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Hypertonicity and Episodic Falling - Management

Dhicon_thumb By DogHeirs Team | January 05, 2011 | Comments (0)

Overview | Symptoms | Treatment | Management

Special care can be given to dogs with Hypertonicity/Episodic Falling, also known as Hyperkinesis, Falling Cavaliers, Collapsing Cavalier Syndrome, Scotty Cramp or Paroxysmal Hypertonicity Disorder to minimize the severity and decrease the frequency of episodes. Typically, affected dogs will recover without treatment within 10-60 minutes, although stiffness may last for hours. Anecdotal evidence suggests that lifestyle changes to remove known stressors and supplement diet may help considerably. In addition, accupuncture may also be effective for some dogs.


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Managing Episodes

During episodes, it is important to stay calm and to keep the dog calm, as fear, and anxiety can add to the stress of the situation and may prolong or increase symptoms. Try to comfort the dog by holding it gently and do not force the dog's legs to assume any position. Keep the dog as cool as possible, and allow it to rest as much as it wishes after the episode.

If your dog has an extended episode or frequent severe episodes, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Lifestyle Changes

Cooling Devices: Dogs may overheat during episodes. This can be due to exertion combined with the inability to pant because the jaws are clenched.  Canine coolers such as cooling beds,  cooling mats and cooling vests have all been used to moderate temperatures during and after episodes. In addition to cooling devices, submerging an affected dog's feet in cold water will help.

created at: 2011-01-05     created at: 2011-01-05     created at: 2011-01-05

Examples of accessories that can help dogs affected with Hypertonicity/Episodic Falling. (Left) A canine cooler can serve to keep dogs cool at home. (Center) A vest cooler keeps dogs cool while out and about. (Right) A portable water bottle with an easy-access bowl is small enough to carry comfortably, but large enough to keep dogs hydrated.

Water: Conversely, over-heating may trigger episodes. Therefore, it is important to carry or have access to water at all times.

Removal of environmental stressors: Careful attention must be paid to identify and minimize triggers that initiate episodes, including stressors, excessive play and owner behaviours.

Diet: Reports suggest that affected dogs respond to dietary changes. Notably, Vitamin E has been linked to a reduced frequency of hyperkinetic episodes in dogs with Scotty Cramp. Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant and a suppliment of approximately 100 IU per day has been recommended.


Acupuncture: Acupuncture is an ancient procedure used in traditional Chinese medicine for the treatment of whole-body conditions. Small-gauge needles are applied to various points on the body for the purpose of eliciting physiological responses in the treatment of almost any disease or condition, particularly for relieving pain.

Acupuncture has been successful in treating arthritis in both humans and canines. One study found that acupuncture enhanced the efficacy of antibiotic treatment for canine otitis crises. Favorable acupuncture results have been reported in the treatment of many other canine conditions, including the following:

  • cardiovascular disorders
  • chronic respiratory conditions
  • dermatological disorders
  • gastrointestinal disorders
  • gynecological disorders
  • immune-mediated disorders
  • male reproductive disorders
  • musculoskeletal disorders
  • neurological disorders
  • reproductive disorders
  • thoracolumbar and cervical disc disease


Risks: Acupuncture may not be effective or should not be used in several situations:

  • extremely anxious pets sometimes can be so excitable that the release of their own adrenaline counteracts acupuncture's benefits
  • certain medications, such as corticosteroids, can decrease the effectiveness of acupuncture
  • cancer; selecting the wrong points can actually accelerate the cancer growth


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