Coonhound paralysis in dogs is a terrifying disease that cannot only paralyze your dog; it can very quickly take their life.
In most cases, this disease will gradually worsen over a period of days, but in the most severe of cases, it can completely paralyze your dog within 24 hours.
If this does occur, your dog’s respiratory muscles may also become paralyzed and your dog will not be able to breathe. Once this occurs, their life is in severe jeopardy.
Coonhound paralysis in dogs is also known as Canine idiopathic acute polyradiculoneuritis, or ACIP.
It is also referred to as creeping paralysis, as in most all cases, this is exactly what it does.
It is a widespread disorder of your dog’s peripheral nervous system that starts very rapidly, and as a result, quickly damages your dog’s nervous system.
The brain and the spinal cord make up the central nervous system in your dog.
The nerves that leave their spinal cord make up what is referred to as the peripheral nervous system.
Coonhound paralysis damages the nerves themselves, as well as the myelin.
The myelin is a specialized substance that surrounds several of your dog’s nerves and allows for the rapid transmission of nerve impulses.
The exact cause of coonhound paralysis in dogs is still not fully understood, but what is understood is that it is the most common inflammatory nervous disorder in dogs.
It is believed to be the result of an immune mediated or autoimmune process that is associated with your dog’s inflammatory cells.
The inflammatory cells are the white blood cells, and when they become inflamed, they affect the nerves.
By design, your dog’s immune system is made specifically to protect from this type of infection by attacking any type of foreign objects.
However when it becomes compromised by an immune mediated condition, the immune system suddenly targets and begin to destroy it own cells.
In this case it is your dog’s nerves. However, there is a huge misconception with this disease; it is not always related to raccoon's.
Coonhound paralysis most commonly develops in dogs that are exposed to raccoon's, especially hunting dogs.
However, what makes this disease even more compelling is that it is also found in dogs that have had no previous exposure to raccoon's at all.
Breed and sex also have nothing to do with the disease, as it can and does attack any breed.
However, it is still widely held in the medical community that exposure to raccoon saliva is the catalyst for this disease.
In normal dogs, electrical signals travel from their brain, down their spinal column, and then follow the path of their individual peripheral nerves.
These nerves branch out and supply your dog’s muscles throughout their body.
When these electrical signals reach the muscles, it allows for the contraction and movement of the muscles.
However, coonhound paralysis in dogs stops this flow, which will then set up a series of symptoms that will help an owner identify it very quickly.
The first set of symptoms with this horrifying disease usually starts within 7 to 14 days of contacting it.
However, it is very important to understand, that if the reaction in your dog is extreme, these symptoms can develop within 24 hours.
The first sign of Coonhound paralysis in dogs is a slowly developing stiff gait in your dog that is quickly followed by a series of slow reflexive movements.
There is no one in this world that knows your dog better than you do, and in most all cases you will be the first one to pick up on this change in reflexes.
Although this sounds difficult, the next symptom will tell you all you really need to know about these changes; your dog vocal ability starts to weaken.
This is the most telling of all signs that other reflexes are also weakening.
As the disease progresses, there are another series of symptoms to watch for.
The first will be labored breathing that is followed by a decrease in your dog’s muscle bulk.
This may also be slightly difficult to spot at first, but not if you watch their face very closely. As your dog’s muscle bulk diminishes, their facial muscles also become very weak.
However, the most alarming signs are yet to come; complete muscle weakness, muscle loss, and severe pain.
As coonhound paralysis in dogs spreads, it will begin to weaken all four limbs at the same time, reaching the point where they become completely paralyzed.
At this point, your dog becomes extremely sensitive to most everything, including even the slightest touching or stroking.
However, there is some good news with this horrific disease.
Unless all of this occurs within 24 hours and instead develops slowly, as serious as it appears, most dogs do survive this attack.
There is no one specific treatment for coonhound paralysis in dogs, and most dogs will fully recover within 3 to 6 weeks.
There are some cases, however, where it may take much longer as well as some cases where your dog may never fully recover.
The first method of treatment is with your dog’s bedding.
You will need to make your dogs bed is as soft as possible, simply because they are parlayed and as a result will develop bed sores.
Water beds are also an option, again to help with the bed sores.
You will also have to help your dog in turning themselves several times a day to insure that their lungs are not being compressed on one side.
This is extremely important, as compressed lungs also lead to other infections.
Physical therapy is the next step, as muscle atrophy leads to muscle shrinkage. Massaging and moving your dog’s limbs manually will also have to be done several times a day.
If you have a whirlpool bathtub and can lift your dog in it, it will also do wonders in the treatment process.
However, perhaps the most important form of therapy will be with your dog’s ventilation.
You may have to use a respirator on your dog in cases where they have also developed respiratory muscle paralysis.
If your dog has developed this condition, unless a respirator is used, they may not survive. It can be expensive, but it may be the only chance your dog has with this complication.
Dogs that are affected by this disease in most all cases are still able to urinate and defecate, but it will be extremely important to keep them clean and sanitized.
Urine scalding and other types of skin infections and irritations can rapidly develop if you do not. As a result, proper hygiene is very important.
Coonhound paralysis in dogs is one of the most, if not the most, frightening experiences that both your dog and you will ever face.
Understanding the symptoms and catching them as early as you can, may save your dog’s life.
Once this wicked disease has been identified, treating them properly and letting it naturally run its course should help to get your dog back to normal in most all cases.
If they do not return to normal, you than may have to make a very difficult decision.