Coonhound Paralysis

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

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Physical Therapy experiences so far

Goya has been to Physical Therapy (PT) three times now.

The first, about 3 weeks ago, was an evaluation session that lasted about an hour and a half. A vet, a physical therapist and three vet-techs surrounded him (all women -- Goya loved that) and gave him lots of attention while figuring out what shape he was in. They determined that he did not yet have normal reflexes yet, especially in his back legs. They took videos of him in his livestock sling, with 4 of them holding it (2 on each side) so they had a record of his state when he started PT. He mostly dragged his feet during that video. They told us that he was not yet a candidate for any of their fancy machines, so they gave us several exercises to do with him several times a day. These were the following.
1. put him into a sternal position and, tempting him with a treat, lure him to move his head far left, far right, far up and all the way down.
2. put him in the sling on the hoyer lift and lower him slowly until his feet are just on the ground. Hold his legs in standing position (body width apart, back as far as a normal dog stands) and lower him just a little more so he supports his weight for a second.
3. do bicycle with his legs to get them warmed up, then do range of motion (ROM) with each joint (we had already been doing this).
4. Get him to push with his legs against our hands.
We had varying success with these exercises at home, which we will write about in a separate post.

At the second visit, 10 days later, Goya was stronger -- lifting his head higher and more often and laying sternally for longer periods of time. They decided to put him in the submersible treadmill. This is a basically a treadmill in an aquarium, that they fill with water and put a life-preserver on the dog so the dog mostly floats. This allows him to not have to support his weight, but when the treadmill is turned on, he has to move his feet in a walking motion to keep up with the treadmill. He seemed to like this -- or at least not react negatively in a violent way (he was mildly stressed, e.g., panting). They decided that he did so well, that he should come back twice a week, but I had to go away for a conference and so did the vet, so we didn't bring him back for another 10 days.

At the third visit, yesterday, Goya was even stronger. We took him straight to the teadmill. While putting on the lifting "duds" (sort of a neoprene vest with straps, neoprene pants with straps, and a chest&stomach life preserver), we kept having to roll him over, but as soon as we did, he would pop back up to a sternal position. He had been doing this at home quite a bit, but he was doing it a LOT during his prep for the treadmill. It's great that he is strong enough to do that, but he was a pain to prep. He did well in the treadmill, but the best thing happened when we were carrying him out to the car. He was in his sling and four of us were carrying him (2 on each side, just like with the video taken during the first visit). I was in the front and i could see that he was placing his front feet appropriately for walking and even supporting a little weight. Sally (the physical therapist) was in the back and she said "hey, he's walking!" (moving his legs appropriately and bearing a little weight) and made us pass by the car to make a circle around the parking lot so he would keep making his legs work right until he got too tired to do so. So good day at PT!


  • At Wed Mar 24, 11:51:00 PM EDT, Blogger Kim said…

    Thank you so much. My dog was just diagnosed with Coonhound paralysis. She has been down for 1 week now. She is eating and is able to control her bowels and bladder. All four limbs are paralyzed and she hasn't been able to lift her head. Although, today I saw her lift her head for a few minutes and that seemed to exhaust her. Thanks so much for your blog. You have given me some hope and good ideas.

  • At Thu Mar 25, 06:37:00 AM EDT, Blogger Bonnie said…

    I am sorry to hear about your pup. Best of luck with her and please come back to this blog to post about her progress. The more people share their experiences and solutions to particular aspects for caring for their paralyzed dogs, the more we'll be able to help our furry friends comfortably back to health.


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