Elevated Liver Enzymes

Bobby, again Isle of Skye, 2005 copyIn 2006 the College of Veterinary Medicine, Michigan State University, carried out tests entitled “Serum alkaline phosphatase activity in Scottish Terriers versus dogs of other breeds“, the main objective being “To determine whether Scottish Terriers have higher serum alkaline phosphatase (ALP) activities and a higher prevalence of diseases commonly associated with high serum ALP activity than do dogs of other breeds” Their Conclusions and Clinical relevance stated “Results suggest that Scottish Terriers have higher serum ALP activities than do dogs of other breeds. Although Scottish Terriers also have a higher prevalence of diseases associated with high serum ALP activity, this alone did not explain the higher mean serum ALP activity in the breed.”

Elevated Liver Enzymes. Yes we’ve all been told our Scotties have them. However there doesn’t seem to be anything the Vets can do. Nor do they know, or understand why Scotties have them.

To read the report full click here : Elevated Liver Enzymes

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Bladder Cancer (TCC)

P1060546Research has suggested that our beloved Scotties are 20 times more likely to get bladder cancer than other breeds. What has been noted is that the most common type befalling our Scotties is “Transitional Cell Carcinoma” of the bladder. But before we continue focussing on bladder cancer, here’s an unfortunate list of other cancers our Scotties are at high risk of getting when compared to other breeds

  • bladder cancer and other transitional cell carcinomas of the lower urinary tract;
  • malignant melanoma;
  • gastric carcinoma;
  • squamous cell carcinoma of the skin;
  • lymphosarcoma and nasal carcinoma.

Other cancers that are known to commonly affect Scotties include

  • mast cell sarcoma and
  • hemangiosarcoma.

So, continuing with bladder cancer and TCC the symptoms we need to be aware of  with TCC is blood in the urine, straining to urinate and frequent urination. However, as usual, symptoms can also be associated with other infections, like “urinary tract infection”.

It is always advisable that if you notice any difference in your Scotties character, please get in touch with your Vet.

In carrying out further research on this “problem” I stumbled across references to dogs that had been exposed to herbicides. It would seem that there was a significant increase of TCC in dogs that had been exposed to lawns or gardens treated with herbicides and/or insecticides. It is a well known fact that herbicides are suspected of causing several cancers in humans. With the latency period being much shorter in dogs, it may be much easier to link early exposure with cancer. The dog genome has recently be completed mapped by scientists in America and more work by vets and scientists is now being undertaken to identify those human cancers/ailments which can also be contracted by dogs and our scotties in particular. This shorter latency period is helping vets treat dogs with symptoms that we humans can be afflicted with, and if successful in the dogs, the outcome will look good for us.

However, getting back to today’s environment, if you think your scottie may be predisposed to bladder cancers, perhaps a routine urine test should be carried out every 6 months. This is more directed towards our scotties who have reached a more maturer age of 6yrs and over. It would certainly provide a baseline for future tests, and by having the tests done every 6 months, you will be able to treat the symptoms just that little bit quicker. Obviously there is a cost associated with regular check ups – do speak with your Vet first to find out how deep your pockets should be!

As is usually the case, diet may play an important role. My own research and reading about bladder cancers, came about because Kelpie had to have bladder stones removed. It seems that our Scotties should be offered fresh vegetables, at least three times a week. In particular the emphasis is placed upon carrots! They “help us to see in the dark” or so I was told when growing up, so why can’t they help with bladder cancers in the dogs. No one knows for sure just what quantities of fresh vegetable to give, but I ensure that fresh and steamed carrots are available at all times for my scotties.

If anyone has any advice that can be shared, please either add your comments here. If you have any articles you would like added to this topic, contact us at sparhawk@me.com and we’ll do our best to include them here.

Cerebellar Abiotrophy or Scottie Cramp?

Cerebellar Abiotrophy (CA) or Scottie Cramp affects Scottish Terriers. Sometimes this is confused with Scottie Cramp simply because of the unsteady nature of the Scottie when experiencing a bout of “Scottie Cramp”. Here we try and highlight the differences

Cerebellar Abiotrophy (CA)

Initially thought to be “Scottie Cramp” because of the unsteady nature of the back legs, the goose-stepping gait and other irregularities in movement it has taken many years for a true diagnosis to be found and it wasn’t one expected by the owners of those Scotties affected by this “condition”.

It appeared that a new disorder was afflicting Scottish Terriers and became known as Cerebellar Abiotrophy or CA as confirmed by Dr Jerold Bell, DVM, the geneticist working on this disease in the breed.

CA is a progressive degenerative disease resulting from the premature loss of brain cells in the cerebellum, causing ataxia – or the inability to co-ordinate movement. Again this condition has been proven to be hereditary.

This disorder is late on-set and so symptoms will not generally be noticed for some time, but as the brain cells progressively die off, the irregularity in co-ordinated movement will become more apparent.

Scotties with this disorder can live out a full life span; their mind remains normal throughout the disease but they may eventually require assistance or support.

Further Reading : wobbly scottiesCerebellar Abiotrophy: It’s causes and diagnosis, Dr Jerold Bell, 2004

Scottie Cramp

Caused by a disorder in serotonin metabolism that causes either a  shortage or an overdose of available serotonin. It is inherited as an autosomal recessive trait, and often occurs in puppies and young dogs. The condition does not progress as the dog ages, but remains at the same level throughout its life-span. So if your Scottie exhibits a goose-stepping gait and arched spine after either exercise or over excitement you really should make an appointment with your Vet to have your Scottie checked out. It is highly recommended that you do not breed with Scotties exhibiting this condition.

Further Reading : Scotty Cramp, Chris and Hanna Hunter, Pointchester Scottish Terriers, Holland

Which is it? Scottie Cramp or CA

The symptoms of both these conditions are so very similar that only a Vet would be able to distinguish between the two. The main point here is that a Scottie with Cerebellar Abiotrophy will exhibit symptoms that are “constant and progressive“, whilst the symptoms of Scottie Cramp are “occasional and not progressive“.

This article is only intended to provide you with brief information to help you when you speak with your Vet. It remains imperative that any unusual behaviour your Scottie is exhibiting must be diagnosed by your Vet.