Coonhound Paralysis

This blog talks about our experience when Goya (our 150lb English Mastiff) came down with coonhound paralysis (also called acute idiopathic polyradiculoneuritis).

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Details of first bout with coonhound paralysis

This is my description of Goya's earlier experience with coonhound paralysis. Bonnie asked me to post it, because it described different aspects of our shared experience.

We believe Goya had his initial experience coonhound paralysis in the summer of 2003. The progression of the disease was fairly typical, he had a fast onset of the paralysis with a slow recovery. The details are below. At the time of the onset, Bonnie was on a business trip, and our kids were away. The main reason to go over this here, is that this experience eliminated many false starts in diagnosing Goya's current condition.

  • One Wednesday in late June, Goya started to stumble. By Thursday evening he was having difficulty walking, so he went to the local Emergency Vet. They had no idea what was happening, but did notice he was having difficulty with his back legs. I had to drive across the state on Friday, and the Vets assured me that he would be fine.
  • When I got back Friday evening, he couldn't move his back legs. I could still help him move by putting a towel under him and holding up the rear of his body. Rather than going back to the emergency vet, I waited until Saturday morning to take him to his normal vet.
  • By Saturday he definitely needed help moving, but I was still able to handle him myself. Our vet did the standard blood work, and found nothing. However, this also meant that we probably didn't have an emergency situation. We made an appointment for Goya at the Orthopedic Surgery Vet for Monday morning. Bonnie would be home by then also.
  • Over the weekend, Goya was sleeping on the first floor of our house because getting him up and down the stairs was difficult. He also had several accidents in the house because we didn't really know how to take care of him yet.
  • On Monday morning the Orthopedic vet, was also convinced there was something wrong. It was pretty obvious by this point. He had 3 hypotheses since it didn't look like a spinal problem or brain problem but instead a peripheral nerve problem:
    1. Myasthenia Gravis which is a general muscle weakness. It can start almost anywhere, but the main problem with this disease is that it can affect the esophagus causing a type of pneumonia. Goya showed no response to the in-house test (Tensilon). The more complete test for this disease takes about a week to come back from San Diego. The common treatment was to nurse and give an anticholinesteras medication. The side-effect we were told to watch for was a weakening of the heartbeat from the medication. The vet wanted to start this medication immediately, because of the pneumonia danger while we waited for the San Diego results.
    2. Tick based disease. The most common is Lyme disease, but there is also Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and tick based paralysis. The diagnosis for this disease requires a blood sample to be sent to a testing center in North Carolina. The vet sent a blood sample to the lab, but since this is an enviromental situation, and the vets hadn't seen other dogs in the area come down with tick based diseases, and the vets didn't find any ticks on Goya, the vets thought this diagnosis unlikely.
    3. Everything else.
  • We started the Tensilon treatment, and Bonnie monitoring Goya's heart stopped the treatment when she couldn't sense his heartbeat anymore. Goya recovered from the treatment but still couldn't walk.
  • We moved out to out back porch. Sears had a tent meant for a picnic on sale that we bought and set up on the back porch. The tent kept the bugs and rain away, and we moved out to the back porch, sleeping on air mattresses.
  • After a several weeks all the test results were in, and were negative. We had exhausted the vet's capabilities in Pittsburgh, so we loaded Goya in the car and took him to Ohio state to see a neurologist.
  • At Ohio state, they kept Goya overnight and did minor surgery to see if they could stimulate the nerves to move, and if not then to take a muscle sample to send to a lab in LA. In the process, they also thought it was Myasthemia Gravis, and gave him Tensilon. They did this even though they had the test results, and Bonnie told them Goya's previous experience on the drug. Sometime during the night they stopped the Tensilon, because they noticed a weakening of his heartbeat. At the end of all the tests, they told us they had no idea. It might be coonhound paralysis, or a missed diagnosis of a tick borne disease or some muscle myopathy. They said we had to wait for test results, and they gave us an antibiotic.
  • 4 days later he was starting to walk. When we called Ohio State, they asked why he could walk. We were convinced that he had a tick borne disease and the antibiotic helped cure him. We are now convinced he just happened to recover from coonhound paralysis at the same time that we gave him the antibiotics.


  • At Tue Mar 28, 11:02:00 PM EST, Blogger Bonnie said…

    A little more about how not-all-the-way-down Goya was during this first bout, and how we moved him around.

    Goya could always lay sternally, get himself into that position, roll onto his back and ask for a belly-rub, and crawl on his belly, in the summer of 2003. He just couldn't get up and sit or walk. Since he could do all these things, he seemed like a normal mastiff, sleeping, changing position, asking for a belly rub. He was not lethargic or "not himself". This level of activity confused the vets -- he wasn't "down enough" for most of their possible diagnoses to fit.

    There is about 10 feet of stone patio between the covered porch and the grass in the back yard, and Goya desperately wanted to relieve himself in the grass, so we had to devise a way to get him to it. Two adults could lift him with a hand sling in the back (which we bought from the vet) and just a beach towel under his chest in the front. The beach towel was too hard to work with, so we bought the largest harness they sell in PetSmart and put that on him to provide a "handle" in the front. I took sheepskin covers for seat belts, bought at an auto supply store and put them around each of the straps of the harness so they wouldn't rub against him (we kept the harness on all the time because it was hard to put on and take off). This cushioning worked really well. The real sheepskin is washable and really cushioning -- and the ones that go around seat belts already have velcro to hold them around the straps, so they were effective and easy. They cost about $10 apiece for the real sheepskin. He was so cute in it -- he looked like he was wearing a sheepskin vest. I still have the harness and the sheepskin and intend to use this trick again when he gets strong enough to start walking a little.

  • At Tue Jun 20, 06:37:00 PM EDT, Anonymous scarlet said…

    i'm sorry for Goya..i think now everything it's ok...i'm a italian veterinary student....and searching articles for my thesis about periphereal neuropaties...i have found a link to your's very difficult to make the correct diagnosis of coonhound paralysis...hope that Goya get well...bye

  • At Thu Nov 15, 07:32:00 AM EST, Anonymous Kate said…

    I live south of Pittsburgh and stumbled upon your blog while attempting to find long term prognosis for dogs having had coon hound's disease. I have a 15 year old whippet, Alice that was affected nearly 4 years ago. Her symptoms progressed very rapidly. At 10pm one evening she was wobbly and by the next morning could only lay sternally and even had trouble raising her head.
    Fortunately I have an excellent small animal vet who immediately recognized the symptoms. She mentioned my dog was the third case she had seen in 30 plus years of practice. After a phone consult with Ohio State she sent me home with antibiotics, steroids and some muscle relaxants.
    It took Alice almost 2 weeks to be able to stand unaided. During this time she never lost bowel or bladder control. (Obviously my 30 pound whipped was easier to manage.) I had to concoct a sling with towels and padded straps to get her in and out for relieving herself. Throughout all of this I was amazed at her determination.
    Having no body fat it was easy to see how quickly her muscles atrophied. Even though Alice could stand after 2 weeks she still could not get up herself and it took her another 2 weeks to be able to move forward on her own. She still needed support as she was so wobbly.
    She continued to improve over the next 6 months but ever so slowly. This was a whippet who ran at speeds of 35 mph and then jumped on the couch to sleep. I knew she had reached a milestone about 1 year post when she concentrated, aimed and launched herself on the couch.
    She has continued to improve slowly. I had lots of people telling me throughout this journey that I should euthanize her, but her attitude was always good and I never felt like she was in any pain. Today she lives with 4 other house dogs. I have to watch she does not get spun around or dumped. She walks a little like a crab but still can trot or even pong around a bit when the mood strikes her.
    It is difficult at this point to separate if some of her stiff gait is a residual or just a manifestation of old age which is finally catching up with her. She is happy and every morning goes out with my rescue Weim and Goldador to explore the yard. There was never any explanation for how my dog might have succumbed to this condition. It helped to read the posts. Thank you, Kate

  • At Sat Dec 01, 05:39:00 PM EST, Anonymous Missing Molson said…

    Unfortunately,I was watching the emergency vet show on tv tonight when I saw a Chow dog come in with the same symptoms my dog Molson-a golden retriever-came in with.My ears perked up because I had to put my dog,my baby of 12 years,to sleep because he could not stand up and all bloodwork was great and x-rays were great.The 3 vets I took him to-all very experienced vets could find nothing wrong with him.I was giving my dog subcutaneos fluids and hand feeding him and assisting him outside with a towel under his legs.He was getting worse over the course of a week and people were telling me I was only keeping the dog alive for me and I was not helping my dog.Other than the voice changes and the paralysis he was responsive and happy.He was confused about not being able to stand up though.This dog was my baby and if I would have had any vet tell me about this disease,I know in my heart right now Molson would still be alive!! I wish I would have had the support I needed to know what I was doing by hand feeding my dog and doing the fluids was not hurting him but would have saved his life.I just called 2 of the vets and left a message about all of this.Maybe by telling them I will somehow save another dog,and owner, from killing their dog like I did.I am so hurt and angry right now.

  • At Sun Dec 02, 08:13:00 AM EST, Blogger Bonnie said…

    To Molson's Mom and/or Dad,

    My heart goes out to you for your loss. This is a terrible disease because it is so rare that many vets know nothing about it.

    Hopefully new media, like TV shows and blogs, can spread the word about this and both owners and vets can become more informed and help our babies.


  • At Sat Jan 19, 08:18:00 PM EST, Blogger Rachelle said…

    I have a Mastiff that seems to be going through the same thing. I have a Veterinary Mannual that describes various illnesses and symptoms. I had just decided that the Coonhound Paralysis was a match. My question for you is wheather the antibiotics you were giving were a Tetracycline based or Penicillin based antibiotic. Tetracycline is the most commonly used in suspect tick microbal infections (Lyme) and Penicillin is most often given for something of an infectious nature. I have both, and am wondering which one you had success with.

  • At Sun Feb 03, 10:48:00 AM EST, Blogger Bonnie said…

    The antibiotic they gave Goya was Doxycycline, BUT all the vets agreed that it wasn't what helped him the first time; it was just coincidence that he got better when we put him on it (they said). It didn't seem to help him the second time, so maybe they were right.
    Good luck to you and your mastiff. It's especially hard with these big babies.

  • At Fri Feb 22, 11:06:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    This morning my golden retriever Max was diagnosed with coonhound paralysis and he is not even one year old. At 8 am he could not get up and by 5 pm he could not even lift his head. I am so scared, I have 4 small children and I have no idea how I am going to take care of Max in this condition. The vet did not say anything about a long recovery-she said he should better in 4 to 5 days. What is the average recovery time?

  • At Sat Feb 23, 11:06:00 AM EST, Blogger Bonnie said…

    Max's mom,
    I don't know if anyone has ever collected data that would reveal an average recovery time. So many vets know nothing about this disease and it is often mis-diagnosed.
    My search of the web said things like "4 weeks to 6 months", but there are comments in this blog from people who have dogs who recovered enough to stand and be helped outside in a few days (see Kiera's story at

    I hope Max is one of the short-recovery ones. Certainly such a young age probably works for you.
    Hang in there,

  • At Sun Feb 24, 06:03:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Just so you readers know what to expect, my dog, Gallahad, has relapsed with this for his third time. The first two were relatively short in term,(days) but this last one is taking a great deal of committment. He has been down for almost 6 weeks now. He did experience loss of bladder control in this last one, but not in the previous two. I think that of all the things that actually made him feel better, the Reglan has made the most obvious impact on his attitude and ambition. It's an anti-inflamatory. The muscles do atrophy quickly. Pasta and baked potatoes help a little. Rubber baby sheets under the blankets and Depends are really a necessity when it gets this bad. His reflex kicks are getting stronger and more immediate now, but he still won't try his back legs. I see progress, but it's really slow this time. Hang in there - I intend to.

  • At Mon Feb 25, 05:22:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    My experience has been that the first time took my dog down very suddenly and completely. We didn't know what was wrong so we tried treating as if it were a toxin or poisioning. I gave Activated Carcoal Capsules to help absorb the possible toxin, Dandelion Root to clear out his liver, 500 i.u. of Lactated Ringers (fluids) under his skin to keep him hydrated and help flush him out, and then kept him warm. The next day he was weak, but interested in soup. By the third day he was up again. He still drug his rear foot a little, so we knew it wasn't the last we'd seen of this thing. The second time was pretty much like that, but the third time has been the long haul.

  • At Wed Aug 13, 12:03:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Carol said…

    Hi from Germany,
    I'm so happy to have found this blog! We have a gorgeous puppy, Benjo, who came dowm with Coon Hound disease two days after we collected him from the breeder. He is a beautiful baby Golden Retriever who is full of life, even though his back legs don't move as they should!
    Luckily, our vet recognised the condition and acted quickly and sent him to the University Clinic in Munich! He is now part of a research paper into this little understood disease. His symptoms were identical to those of Goya. He can stand for a few seconds now, but no one seems to know how things will develop from here. He is having therapy He is very happy and active. We hope with continued therapy he will be able to walk normally in the near future. The vet believes that he had a reaction to his vaccinations. He is a real fighter and we are very optimistic, however, the vet is very concerned because he is growing very quickly but his tendons in his legs and paws are not developing. She has warned us that we may have to have him put to sleep if he doesen't respond to his therapy - a horrible thought!

  • At Wed Aug 13, 02:47:00 PM EDT, Blogger Bonnie said…

    Best of luck with your baby. If you find anything new or have any comments on things we posted, we'd love to have them on this blog. If you start yoiur own blog or website about your experiences, send me a link and we'll post it in the blog sidebar.
    We're hoping for the best,
    Bonnie & Gary

  • At Fri Mar 27, 02:38:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Julie Irwin said…

    I live in Adelaide, Australia with my little fox terrier cross, Bella. She started to have difficulty walking ovar a period of about 3 weeks, then rapidly developed full paralysis in her legs over the following week. Her voice started to change and lost the high notes out of her bark. The local vet and our chiropractic vet didn't know about coonhound disease and thought it was a spinal problem and referred her to a specialist vet. This vet did the usual tests but quickly realised that it could be coonhound disease. He was treating 4 cases at the same time. Bella lost all movement in her legs and eventually couldn't wag her tail or lift her little head. There was no specific treatment available. She recovered gradually over the following 6 weeks with help from us to put food and water where she could reach the bowls, and carrying her outside to go to the toilet. I did take her to a pet acupuncturist who treated her every 2-3 days during the worst 3 weeks. This definitely had an effect on her spirit and gave her a boost ... the effect of seeing a happy dog looking so hopeless and unhappy was heartbreaking to watch, and the acupuncture improved her outlook. It's hard to tell that it had any other theraputic effect but I'm sure it improved her immune system and led to a faster recovery. Bella is now able to walk and run, she is still having trouble jumping up onto her favourite chair but this is due more to muscle weekness and is gradually improving.
    Anyway, I just wanted to let Australians know that this disease is affecting our dogs too, so it doesn't have to be related to racoon bites. My vet suggested that it may have been triggered by Bella eating something that was off, so I've been more strict with her diet and feed her home cooked meals now. I'm avoiding giving her fresh chicken wings and necks, which were a big part of her diet before.

  • At Fri Mar 27, 09:10:00 AM EDT, Blogger Bonnie said…

    I'm so happy to hear that Bella is better. She'll continue to get stronger -- Goya got back to 100% normal after his first bout.

    I'm glad acupuncture work well to raise her spirits. We tried massage for Goya but he was always anxious around strangers and having the stranger touch him all over when he couldn't move away stressed him out more than the massage relaxed him. So we didn't try anything more with outside help -- I just manipulated his limbs as the vet and physical therapist showed me. Each dog is different.

    Hugs to you and Bella,

  • At Wed Apr 22, 06:32:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I am devastated. My 3.5 month old Australian Shepherd has Coonhounds disease. He is presently in an emergency clinic on IV and a catheter. Now the neurologist wants to send him to a clinic for a respirator. It is $ 1500.00 per day - and has said there is no guarantees. The neurologist recognized the disease - but wasn't sure if it was a parasite. He has been tested - but the results are not back. This puppy is the greatest dog....and I don't want to lose him. He is on steroids.....does anyone know - will all of this work - or if I bring him home will he recover on his own.....

    He threw up the night before....was great a lunch the next day - and then by 5:00 pm he was dragging himself across the kitchen floor. By morning the next day at the hospital his front legs were paralyzed too. Now it is just his tail that wags......

  • At Wed Apr 22, 06:52:00 PM EDT, Blogger Bonnie said…

    Dear owner of the Australian Shepherd puppy,
    I am so sorry to hear about your puppy. There are so many things that this could be (please read the part in the blog where my husband explains some other possible causes of paralysis), but if it is Coonhound Paralysis, everything I have heard or read is that it can effect the ability to breathe and if it does, there is no choice but a respirator. Once the dog is breathing by himself, then the rest is nursing and waiting.
    But if he needs that respirator, he needs it.
    Our thoughts go out to you and your puppy.
    Bonnie & Gary

  • At Sun May 17, 05:07:00 PM EDT, Blogger paterricardus said…

    My Jack Russell mix collapsed yesterday morning -- the first sign I had that anything was wrong. I took him to the vet immediately, and he first diagnosed it as tick-related paralysis. However, we could find no tick evidence after several thorough examinations. When there was no improvement several hours later the vet suggested the possibility of coon dog paralysis. He had not seen a case in 25 years, but I'm grateful that he came up with the diagnosis so soon. He plans to consult with the neurologists at Auburn Vet School tomorrow morning (Monday). I'm praying that this will be one of the quick recovery cases. He's only two, so his age is in his favor.

  • At Thu Jun 10, 04:28:00 PM EDT, Blogger Pam said…

    I have a Spinone that seems to be suffering this malady. He has been on steroids for a few weeks now. Was doing pretty good until recently. We are weening him off because he is suffering from muscle weakness from the steroids. We have done acupuncture and chiropractic to no real benefit. Should we just ride this out?

  • At Thu Jun 10, 04:34:00 PM EDT, Blogger Pam said…

    I have a Spinone that seems to be suffering from this malady. He fits every one of the symptoms except no contact with a raccoon. Not out of the realm of possibility as we have a country home. We just keep pretty close tabs on him. He was chasing cats up trees and our Chiropractor thinks coondog paralysis is partly a severe back injury. The vet has tested and ruled out a whole host of other possibilities. Really stumped by this.

    He has been on steroids (last resort) for several weeks now. He was doing tolerably well until he developed muscle weakness from the prednisone. We have started to ween him off. He is already in 24 hours and in pretty bad shape. Should we continue and just ride this out? I will do whatever it takes to save this very good friend.

  • At Thu Jun 10, 04:43:00 PM EDT, Blogger Bonnie said…

    There is no need for contact with a raccoon to have this disease!!! Goya had it twice and had never even seen a raccoon to my knowledge since we live in the middle of a big city. The name is a misnomer and you should not think your dog doesn't have this because there was no raccoon contact.

    This whole blog is about "riding it out" -- because that seems to be the only thing you can do for a dog with coonhound paralysis. For Goya, he was his normal goofy self most of the time, except that he couldn't move. He was in no pain, just a bit confused. For a mastiff, not moving and being confused is pretty close to their normal state ;-) So it was an easy decision to ride it out, nurse him, and figure out all the tricks of nursing that we have put in this blog. If your dog seems to be in pain, or seems to suffer from not being able to move (mastiff just lay around all day anyway, so that wasn't terribly disturbing to Goya), your decision will be harder.
    Best of luck, Bonnie

  • At Fri Aug 27, 01:55:00 AM EDT, Blogger rose said…

    I have a 10 yr old golden, going thru this right now ...xrays blood work normal... any suggestions they are now giving him antinflamatory is there anything else ican do for him,, like vitamins or anything to help him its breaking my heart..

  • At Fri Aug 27, 08:17:00 AM EDT, Blogger Bonnie said…

    I am so sorry to hear about your golden. I remember the pain at seeing Goya so helpless and the frustration at not being able to do anything for him.
    Unfortunately, we never found anything medicinal that actually helped the disease, only the passage of time, which is the frustrating part.
    However, I consoled myself and helped Goya's mood by giving him the best nursing possible. We positioned him in the center of the household -- yes, his double-bed mattress in the middle of the living room floor was in the way, but stepping around him and talking to him all the time was my way of making sure he felt included even if he couldn't move. I did exercises with his legs a few minutes at a time a couple of times a day. He couldn't push back as I did "the bicycle" with each leg for many week, but he could feel that I was touching him lovingly and he could feel the movement of his legs and I was with him. paying attention to him. I clipped his toenails to make sure that when he recovered, his nails would be ready to run (and of course, he got a tiny treat after each nail was clipped) - again, touching and attention were keeping him engaged. We moved the TV into the room he was in, so the family could cuddle with him whenever we watched TV. Stuff like that kept his spirits up and we knew we were doing everything we could for him, so it kept our spirits up too (most of the time).
    With a golden, you might be able to use a wagon and take him from room to room with you, or one woman with a german shepard dog who could hold his head up, dragged him around from room to room on a thick towel.
    So while I can't tell you there is a drug or supplement that will help, I can encourage you find ways to continue to engage with him as often as possible and keep him in the middle of his family (even literally, in the middle of the busiest room).
    Our thoughts are with yioiu,

  • At Fri Aug 27, 12:32:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    My Bassethound is 7 years and came down with Coonhound paralysis about 4 weeks ago. Lucky she only has it in her rear legs. With a towel we can take her out to pottie and she eats well. She was 65 lbs and is now 58 lbs. Vet said a couple of weeks she would walk. Didn't mention we should do physical therapy on her legs. He gave her antobiatics, muscule relaxers and Metacam for inflamtion. She is standing for a few seconds on her own and walks with the help of her towel sling. I see from the blogs it will take longer then the 2-3 wks the Vet said.

  • At Fri Aug 27, 05:31:00 PM EDT, Anonymous rose said…

    Thanks Bonnie , I do include Mr Beans in everything still.. I have 2 other dogs who are wondering why he doesnt want to play with them as he was always the one to romp and play.. Im waiting to take him in the pool again he loves to swim but the vet wanted me to wait a week he wants to see how he is doing his next apt his tuesday .. I hate when he trys to get up he falls down just makes me want to scream out for him... We do all the supportive measures but still breaks my heart ..Had a freind come over today and looked at him she asked how long i was going to make him suffer i wanted to throw her out!! He is still full of life Im not going to give up on him... soorry but hardly ever use my gmail on aol

  • At Sat Aug 28, 02:16:00 PM EDT, Blogger Gary said…

    To the owner of the basset hound. It may be a short bout. Your symptoms more closely match Goya's initial bout which was about 4 weeks. Mainly his back legs were paralyzed, and like you we used a towel (for a while) to help him. It was quite amazing how fast he recovered. The speed of recovery was partly why we wrongly attributed his recovery to the antibiotics the Ohio State vet gave us because they had nothing else they could do.

    The second time, Goya was almost completely paralyzed. He couldn't lift his head. His autonomic system still seemed to work. He could breathe, defecate, etc. He took a long time to come back that time.

    By the way, the hand sling we got from our vet was much easier to use than a towel. However, we had the back legs of a 150 lb dog to support, rather than a 75 lb dog.

  • At Mon Dec 27, 09:09:00 AM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I live in Adelaide Australia also! My dog Leo, an 8 yr poodle/maltese x was very healthy and active.Over a period of 8 days he became totally paralysed in all four legs, had an altered bark, was unable to urinate and unable to defecate. We had to learn to give him a cathatar and an enema. Diagnosis was slow with the chiro vet being the first one to recognise Coonhound on day 9, however the local vet did not agree, wrongly thinking bladder and bowel weren't symptoms. She referred him to the neuro surgeon however he has been unable to diagnose Coonhound as such. We have currently spent $6000, so far with few answers. As coonhound is an auto immune disease affecting the nerves I have found that the more extensive the organs and limbs affected the longer the healing time as nerves take a notoriously long time to repair.We are now at week 10 and had a relapse at week 5 and are not quite at the point in week 10 we were at week 5 but Leo is showing signs of getting strength and reactive movement back into his legs and is able to sit up sternally on his own again. He is not back to scrabbling and dragging himself off his bed as he was in wk 5 but we assume a setback makes a recovery a bit longer anyway. I believe the cause of the setback was because I administed a dose of Frontline Plus as he was out on the sandy grass and I didn't want him getting bitten by sandfleas. He went back to square 1 within 24 hours. I now believe this happened because his immune system was already fighting itself with the Coonhound and the Frontline also works on the immune system and this overloaded it and set him back. I would be very interested to hear from other owners if they had administered any immunisations or vaccinations throughout or just before their pups came down with this disease. Anyway, after all the tests and money spent, I now know the best and probably only thing we can do to help Leo is to keep him hand watered, hand fed and turned over regularly while he can't do this for himself. The next important thing is to make sure he is always on a supportive but soft surface so his poor little bones don't get over stressed and create bedsores. The most important thing then is to give him as much aquatherapy as possible so that he does not loose his muscle mass, so that when his nerve endings do finally repair and do their thing, his muscles will be able to support him so that he can hold up his own weight and walk again. My husband an myself bought a dog buoyancy vest and paddle his legs in the bathtub daily mimmicking a walking motion. One holds the front legs and the other the back legs and walk him for 1min, 2min, 3min, 2min, 1min with the same rest time intervals in between. We also take him to a friends pool and attach 2 leads to the top of the vest and swim him around the pool. He just dangled at first but impoved fairly quickly with his back leg thrusts and his front feet are now sometimes paddling slowly. He definately can't stand up out of the water yet. I wish we had had this knowledge at the beginning and maybe he would be walking again by now. I understand for those wanting to know how long it takes. I want to know the same. It has been 10 weeks so far, but I have spoken to a couple of owners now and I believe it is, before setbacks, around 100 days. It is a long haul but with a sling to move your dog around, with water therapy and with a converted child's pram to take your little mate for walks in, it is really a case of the dog will recover as long as you, the owner, can stay the distance. It is tiring but it needn't be expensive. In our case the $6000 spent has told us more how healthy he really is, rather than why he has contracted this debilitating disease. We still have to give him a cathatar twice a day (was 3 times) tho, as his bladder muscles and the nerves aren't talking properly yet. Thank goodness the vet taught me how to do that! My $6000 would be a lot more if we had to get that taken care of by the vet. Good luck. And thanks to Bonnie and Greg.

  • At Tue Dec 28, 02:31:00 PM EST, Blogger Gary said…

    To Leo's owner, we only have anecdotal information, but no vet we talked to had a test that had a definitive diagnosis of coonhound paralysis. Coonhound paralysis was the diagnosis when nothing else was diagnosable. This was at least somewhat disconcerting. Goya did have bladder problems, but was always able to defecate, though he hated doing so inside. So from my anecdotal information I wouldn't have ruled out coonhound paralysis from those symptoms.

    I am really sorry to hear about the relapse at week 5. We didn't see such an event in either of Goya's bouts with the diseases. He steadily (though very slowly) got better.

    Best of luck.

  • At Sun Jun 19, 12:27:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    We have just brought our mini doxie Bria home from five days of hospitalization with a diagnosis of Coon Hound disease. She can hold her head up and wag her tail, turn herself, roll on her back and resist my pushing gently on the underside of her paws, but is otherwise immobilized. It came on suddenly, in the classic way, back end compromised, bark weakened, then spreading immobility. We too were told she might need to be on a respirator for $1500 a day. I told the vet that was not an option for us financially. We are long retired and after two economic downturns, must carefully shelter what's left of what was at one time an ample nest egg. What do young people who are struggling in this economy do? Something's wrong with a medical system where the heroic options are only available to the pets of the wealthy.
    In the two days she's been home, Bri's made tiny improvements in the two days she's been home. She's 'voicing' her affection with the typical doxie pleasure grunts as of last night and this very moment is barking with her two companions at some activity out on the meadow trail beside our housefor the first time since the severe onset. Her bark is weak, but determined and we're all cheering!
    We have lots of raccoons around here, but our dogs are never out of our sight in our little garden (if unsupervised, they'll dig), and otherwise are only out on leashes.
    We too have placed her in the center of activity on thick, soft bedding. She urinates on depends type pads and then I wash her back end and tail and use that as another opportunity to massage her. I'm working her legs, flex and extend and paddle, three or four times a day, hand feeding her and offering her water regularly. She hasn't defecated in three days, but the vet said not to worry as she did once in the hospital.
    The thing that really brought her out of the depressed state she was in when she came home was putting her in a sleeping pouch for warmth and carrying her on a walk down to the ocean in front of our home. She woke up! Was so enlivened by the breeze and the smells. We sat on a bench on the bluff and she sniffed and looked around alertly, then licked my face as if in expressing her happiness and appreciation.
    Fortunately because we're retired we can make our lives work around her needs until she's up and going again.
    I really appreciate this blog and the opportunity to hear others' experience with this disease. One thing I will do is find a Chinese medicine practitioner to prescribe her an adaptogenic immune modulating herbal protocol. That might be the one medical intervention that could address the problem of overblown immune response.
    Best of luck to everyone here and their canine companions.

  • At Sun Jun 19, 01:03:00 PM EDT, Blogger Gary said…

    To Bria's mom. Our hearts go out to you. The ray of hope we can give comes from Goya's 2 experiences, is that the waiting and nursing you are giving Bria can pay off. We hope you will have a similar experience to ours.

  • At Sat Jul 30, 11:19:00 PM EDT, Blogger Milou's Parents said…

    We live in South Korea and we suspect our 6-year-old fox terrier, Milou, has coonhounds disease. She started with a pronounced change in here voice, then became clumsy, back legs affected the most , then all four limbs became paralyzed.
    This happened over three days.

    Our vets keep telling us it is not coonhounds and think it may be Canine Ataxia or Cerebellum Malformation. We had an MRI done. It shows some pressure on her cerebellum from the spinal cord but the MRI specialist said “it doesn’t match her clinical symptoms.” They also noticed the spinal cord was u shaped in the second disc instead of round but again “does not match clinical symptoms.”

    She was treated for three days with large doses of steroids and responded well; we brought her home and she continued to improve for three more days to the point that she was able to walk up the steps from the garden into the house, although very unsteadily. The next day she was down again and we took her back to the hospital. She is being treated with steroids again.

    The vets insist that it can’t be coonhound’s disease because there has never been a recorded case in Korea. The vets are very upset and are concerned that she might go into respiratory distress and are suggesting euthanasia.

    We are not willing to give up on her. Her main vet is a diagnostic specialist and admits to be completely stumped by her case. Milou is alert, curious and is the same loving dog she always was…she just cannot stand up.

    Has anyone heard of a case of coonhounds in Asia?

  • At Mon Aug 01, 09:13:00 AM EDT, Blogger Gary said…

    Hi Milou's parents. I have not heard of coonhound paralysis in east asia, though we have had someone post here from Australia.

    I don't believe that Goya ever responded to steroids. So that fact would lead me to doubt that she has coonhound paralysis. There wasn't a diagnostic test when Goya was going through his bouts, so there may be no way to be sure.

    My best hope is that Milou's experience is like Goya's first bout, that lasted only a couple of weeks. Nursing care and love is easy to do for that period of time, and is greatly rewarded.

  • At Fri Jan 13, 09:54:00 AM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I have a 1 1/2 year old GSD. She was bitten by something 8 days ago on the end of the nose. She had an abscess so we took her to the vet where they cleaned it out and gave her antibiotics and another booster just to be safe. Six days after the bite all swelling is gone and her typically happy self. On the seventh morning she had no movement with her back legs. they would just collapse when she tried to stand on them. Took her back to the vet and x-rays showed nothing. So they sent me to an emergency vet where they did bloodwork and more in depth x-rays and checked her neck and spine for growths or anything out of the ordinary. everything checks out fine and now she cannot get up at all. So i came home last night and obviously could not sleep so i stumbled upon a page describing coonhound paralysis. All the symptoms make perfect sense. I was 100% sure that she was bitten by a racoon, even though ive read they dont have to be exposed to a coon to get it. But she had full paralysis 8 days after the bite. They want to send her to get MRI and spinal tap to check for more diseases, but this totals up to about $4500. Am I doing the right thing by bringing her home and starting physical therapy with her?

  • At Wed Jun 06, 07:24:00 PM EDT, Blogger marcelle daniels said…

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • At Wed Jun 06, 08:26:00 PM EDT, Blogger marcelle daniels said…

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • At Sat Jun 23, 09:55:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I have an 11 yr old chihuahua. About 6 days ago I noticed that she was walking like she was drunk. Anotber day passed and she seemed to be moving a little stiff....the next morning her breathing had become labored and she had thrown up a clear foamy substance. I took her to the vet where the did blood work which was normal. They also did chest xrays and found that 95% of her lungs were filled with a mysterious fluid. She was immediately put on oxygen. Her breathing rate was at 120 and they were able to get it down to 90. It was 1000.00 to keep her at the emergency vet center for 24 hours. My vet was willing to take her and keep her on oxygen. He was able to get her breathing rate to 70 but after taking her off of oxygen for a few hours it increased to 90 again. She is eating and drinking but is weak in her back end and sometimes collapses when trying to urinate. My vet is perplexed and is telling me I may need to consider putting her down. This is not an option for me. I love her very much. If anyone has a pet that experienced the same symptoms please respond asap or it could be too late.

  • At Thu Feb 07, 10:59:00 PM EST, Anonymous DM of NY said…

    We have a Bernese Mountain Dog 9+ years old -2 days after Rabies booster shot the classic symptoms and progression for the worse over the next 6 days staying the same --bareely able to walk--I'd describe his case as moderate-didn't bother with vets who know very little--gave him stanazol low dose aspirin organic cherry juice magnesium/zins/selenium / vit C--upped his protein with tuna and chicken--he is recovering gradually--dogs and people need to be treated medicinally and nutritionally when they are sisk unfortunately MDs and vets have little training in such overall therapies--He's doing better every day and is in good spirits--I'm going to start to decrease Stanazol in afew days--luckily we had it left over from our other pup who passed on--DM of NY

  • At Thu Feb 07, 11:05:00 PM EST, Anonymous DM of NY said…

    To anonymous with the GSD--be careful --it might have been the reaction to the shot she was given and not the bite--DM of NY

  • At Fri May 24, 09:59:00 PM EDT, Blogger marcelle daniels said…

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • At Fri Sep 27, 10:50:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Traci said…

    I would like to thank all of you for all of your information. We have a small ranch with plenty of animals and kids to keep us busy! Our two year old Fox Hound got sick, which mimicked him eating something that did not agree with him. After two days, he did not look better, but worse. The third day he fell into a heap on the floor. We got him to the vet and he was running a fever of 104.6. They felt it might just be an infection and prescribed antibiotics and told us to call if he was not better after two days. He was able to walk, barely, at this point and the fever started going away. By the second day he was completely paralyzed. We carried him on his bed to the vet’s office. She was amazing and figured it out! Blood work was perfect, he was up to date on his shots, and x-rays were perfect. No ticks, no bites, no evidence to go on. She tried to explain what this disease was and I asked if it was like the human form of Gilliam Berea’s disease. Yes, they are very similar. Copper, our dog, has had this now for 3 weeks. We had him on IV’s overnight and since then he has been at home getting spoiled rotten. My mom concocted a biscuit for him made with boiled chicken and chicken broth. The boy eats them and turns his nose up at anything else! We used a kid’s medicine dropper to give him warm water with fresh chicken broth or an electrolyte drink without sodium. He has perked up and is able to move his head and move his tail and back feet slightly. Vocals are affected, which is ok as he is not happy lying down and wants to run, so he lets us know often.  He is able to be propped up to eat on his own now and drink on his own. Our other dogs are jealous and let us know by drooling all over us while we feed him, it’s a crazy family affair!  His did not defecate for over a week, but was fine. When he did, it was loose. Copper was a gift from the woods as we found him in the middle of nowhere at 4 weeks of age and 2 holes through the back of his neck. We made room for him and were thankful for the gift. I pray many nights that we are doing all that we can for him and my heart goes out to him when he is frustrated. Thank you for creating this bog as you helped me in my late night moments of frustration and gave me hope. It’s a long road, but hope carries us the furthest.

  • At Tue Mar 04, 09:00:00 AM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thanks for info.we have a dog with coondog paralysis.No improvement after 1 week.We were considering havind him put down,but now will continue home nursing until he recovers.It is a lot of work but he deserves a chance at recovery.
    PS Here in Alabama we have the only Coondog Cemetery in the world.

  • At Thu May 01, 10:09:00 AM EDT, Blogger Catherine Benjamin said…

    Two weeks ago, my 6-year-old chocolate Labrador retriever fell ill. I noticed she was stumbling when walking, and had trouble holding her head up. The next morning, she couldn't hold herself up to urinate due to weakness in her front legs. Within a couple hours she could not stand at all, and the paralysis extended to her hind legs within 24 hours. She continued to wag her tail and has never lost control of her bowels or bladder. We took her to the vet the morning she couldn't hold herself up to urinate, all testing normal. She was hospitalized for 5 days, where they administered steroids and antibiotics. The vet has ruled out most causes, which leaves us with a variation of Coonhound Paralysis, given the presentation of descending paralysis (most cases present with paralysis of hind legs first). Has anyone heard of a presentation similar to this? She is still unable to bear any weight on any legs, but does not appear to be in any pain.

  • At Wed Nov 26, 12:54:00 AM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thank you for this blog and the information in it. It gives us some hope with our little dog who has coon hound disaese for the last 3 weeks with very little improvement to date. We know it will be a long road a head but will give our boy the best chance for a recovery.

  • At Mon Dec 22, 08:19:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I have a 9 year old Brussel Griffin, he has had coon hound for 4 weeks, he is paralised in all legs, breathing is good and was able to urinate but now is finding it hard. Im at the point of losing hope for him as he has made no real improvments even with theropy, he looks very depressed. None of the vets here in Australia have any clear recovery time or information to help. I have booked him in tomorrow to be put down , but i dont know if i can go through with it

  • At Mon Jan 26, 12:14:00 AM EST, Blogger Lorie Thacker said…

    Hello I have a Doberman Pincher that contracted this Paralysis for going on 5 weeks now... We are Looking for advise as to tricks that work for taking care of him to rehabilitating his legs etc...etc... I have read that swimming really helps but we do not have a pool! And it is Winter here now! Can they get better without swimming therapy? And we dont have the money to pay for a rehabilitation (program)etc... I have been giving him Activated Charcoal, Apple Cider Vinegar, Damascus Earth, & a quality Coconut oil.... My son & I are soo overwhelmed!!! Please HELP US! Here is my email address... :-)

    Thanks Lori, Collin & Blue

  • At Mon Jan 26, 01:37:00 PM EST, Blogger Gary said…


    Goya had a treadmill in a pool. It was a fairly complicated piece of equipment at the vets. It was also somewhat expensive. Swimming would also probably worked at the beginning, but the pool-treadmill allowed them to put more weight on Goya's legs over time.

    Lynda mentioned she was using a bathtub and walking her dog in the bathtub partially filled with water. However, her dog is substantially smaller than a doberman, and I'm pretty sure it wouldn't work for most dobermans I've seen.

    The key is to take some of the weight off the legs and get them to move. If you have a harness, you might be able to use a tree branch to partially lift him. You could rig up some pulley at the top so that you could walk him in a circle, and a proportion of his weight would be off his legs. I'm not sure it will easily work, but it is the only idea I could think of.

  • At Sun Feb 22, 10:12:00 PM EST, Blogger Thompson's said…

    My Mabel, our 8mth black and tan coonhound, started developing symptoms, quickly, at the beginning of this month.

    On Tuesday, 3 Feb, she fell hard twice in our kitchen (hard wood floors) when when she had been playing full speed w/ the kids earlier in the day. After that fall, she could not stand well and kept 'slipping' on the floors and had a hard time standing up. She spent most the day and the next in bed, only getting up when needed. But getting up was very difficult. I thought she was just sore, but then noticed she was dragging her paws and tripping when we were walking. She didn't even get up in the morning to greet me when I came down in the mornings.

    My husband finally saw her on Saturday (away for the week) and advised me to take her in. So on Monday 9 Feb the vet saw her and took xrays, they were normal. She ran a bunch of tests but concluded she didn't know what was wrong with her, but felt it was neurological.

    She prescribed Clindamycin and Doxycycline b/c she didn't know what was wrong and wanted to rule out a tick borne disease (though it has been colder than dirt here in VA).

    Mabel is a coon - so her nose is to the ground all the time - she is up to date on her shots. She is also a complete leash dog - so there has not been any direct contact with a racoon - but we live in the country and I know we have coons in the area. So it is possible she came into contact w/ some droppings. I don't know if this could be the cause of her symptoms.

    I am calling the vet tomorrow to request a prescription for steriod and muscle relaxer. She is improving, but it is very slow. She seems fearful almost of the hardwood b/c she cannot keep upright, her muscles seem weak. She also falls A LOT still both on hardwood and the carpet runners (bought those to help her w/ her traction). She is still tripping and falling and losing her balance - but it does not seem as often - though she goes in stages.

    Thank you for blogging your result and comments that follow. This is a self-diagnosis that I am giving her - but her vet hadn't a clue and this seems to be the only thing I can find that match her symptoms.

  • At Mon Jun 08, 03:37:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hello there
    My lhasa Wiggles came down with similar symptoms last week. It started with a weaker / hoarse bark then progressed to hind leg paresis 3 days later, then front leg weakness the very next day. On top of that, he contracted pneumonia, they think it's from aspiration. So they had to treat his pneumonia first.
    The most frustrating part is we went to an emergency vet clinic, told her about the weak bark and she said it was related to the pneumonia. Then the next day when his hind legs were involved, she told us he had a full blown ruptured disc. Fortunately, we got him transferred to another facility with a neurologist who refused to do CT scan as it requires anesthesia due to his pneumonia, examined him the next day and said that since he does not have any pain, it cannot be a blown disc.
    Today 6/8, his pneumonia has improved so they will start him on 2 high doses of steroids 12 hours apart to see if there is any improvement, then back him down. Seeing from your blog and others, that recovery might be slow, would we see any improvement just 24 hours after steroid treatment?
    They are also sending his blood to do tick borne test but it might take a week to get the results back.
    Thanks for any information.

  • At Sat Nov 21, 12:27:00 AM EST, Blogger Unknown said…

    Hi. I lived in Ontario, Canada. Our 4 year old pitbull mix came down with this diease. He was doing excellent until he decided on one of our ventures out to pee. He had enough strength after resting all day to run and attack another dog. My husband got him back. But our other dog Rottweiler mix attack our (sick) other dog. We unfortunately had to put pitbull mixed down because his injuries were so bad.
    My question if anyone knows or experienced it: Do I have to worry about my Rottweiler mix contracting this disease.

  • At Sat Nov 21, 11:41:00 AM EST, Blogger Gary said…

    To anonymous in Ontario. I don't think there is much of a chance of the Rottweiler getting the disease. My other dogs were in constant contact with Goya and never showed any symptoms.

  • At Sun Feb 07, 07:57:00 PM EST, Blogger W Watterson said…

    Our Shepherd/Terrier Mix, Buster,(50 Pounds), showed symptoms of Coon hound Paralysis Thursday, Jan. 14, namely, an altered gait, ...and rapidly deteriorated, not being able to walk at all by 10 am Friday. At that time I suspected something wrong with his Central Nervous System, and thought he would have to be put down. It was a sad day. The local vet agreed and sent us to a neurologist in Chicago (1 hour drive). Since it probably was CNS I immediately started applying a drop of Frankincense Essential Oil and a few others on his spine, diluted with coconut oil, as Frankincense is known for supporting the CNS. At that time, Buster could still scoot a little with his front legs. The Neurologist suspected Coon Hound Paralysis, and kept Buster overnight for observation in case it went into his lungs, and gave him a spinal tap to rule out an Auto Immune Disorder, which it wasn't. We signed a DNR in case it went into his lungs, as we did not want him intubated, and said "Goodbye," just in case. The Dr. told us the paralysis would get worse before it got better, resulting in flaccid limbs, with up to a 3 month recovery, and there is no treatment. HOWEVER, the next morning when he checked on Buster, Buster BORE WEIGHT on his front limbs for a moment. He was very surprised. We picked him up that day, Saturday. I got an essential oil regimen from a friend who knows a lot about Oils and Pets. 2x a day I massaged into his spine 1 drop each of Cypress (circulation), Frankincense (CNS), Idaho Blue Spruce (trauma) and Copaiba (magnifies effects of oils and good for inflammation) diluted with coconut oil. I also did the physical therapy ROM prescribed. By Monday he was sitting up! By Thursday, he was walking ON HIS OWN. By Sunday he was walking close to a mile. This was just one week after coming home from hospital. The next week he was able to climb stairs and jump on and off the couch. And today, 3 weeks later, Buster went 2 miles with me on the bike at a good clip, just like he used to. I am so thankful for Young Living Essential Oils.

  • At Sat Jun 04, 09:58:00 PM EDT, Blogger Unknown said…

    I am so happy to have run across this blog. I am caring for my sister's dog who is down for the 3rd summer with coonhound paralysis. I could not find any other info from people who had dogs that had experienced it more than once. It has been so confusing wondering whether it was actually it or not.


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