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, September 26, 2006

Good news and bad news about Goya

First the good news.
Sometimes Goya surprises us. When we got home from work three times this past week, Goya was not in the room where we left him. We don't know if he managed to get into a standing position and walked, or whether he crawled (well, once he was on the back landing -- 5 steps down, so I hope he walked). He never does this when we are home. When we are watching him, he only gets into standing position on the sidewalk in front of Starbucks. He claims the other surfaces (grass, carpet, tile) are too slippery for him to get up.

Now the bad news.
He is limping on his left front leg now occasionally. It does not seem to be associated with the days he surprises us. Sometimes it is in the morning, sometimes at night. It has been getting worse since Sunday. Sunday morning he limped a little, we gave him some aspirin and he seemed to feel better, so Gary walked him to Starbucks. Monday it seemed worse and he didn't want to walk all the way to Starbucks. He just walked to the corner, got distracted by meeting another dog, and wanted then wanted to walk home again. This morning, he was limping so badly that we didn't even try to take him to Starbucks. We are trying to get an appointment with the vet because he now seems to be in pain, whereas before he just seemed weak. I'm worried.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Response to comment - Dakota

(Lara, I hope you don't mind that I elevated your comment to the top level. We find that people don't seem to find information if it is in comments and responses to comments.)

We got this comment recently:
I have been reading through you blog, and it is helping us alot with our Golden Retriever who is believed to have coonhound paralysis. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences. Our golden 'dakota' had a VERY fast onset, and we thought she had ingested something at first. We rushed her to the vet, and they dismissed her thinking she had drank some beer. The next morning her front paws weren't able to move either, so she was hospitalized over night. We have had her at home now for 2 days. She wags her tail, and has really happy moments. The medications seem to depress her alot. And I cannot imagine how frustrated she is. Any advice on ways to keep her moving? She will shimmy out on the lawn to go to the bathroom. And we are encourage her to crawl...we just don't want to push her too much. Any advice would be much appreciated!

I am glad our experiences can help Dakota.

As we've said a bunch of times, coonhound paralysis is hard to diagnose -- there is no specific test for it, so the vets have to do a lot of tests to eliminate other things (see Gary's post on March 28th). If it is coonhound paralysis, the vets say there is no medication that helps, so once they determine that it is indeed coonhound paralysis, they will probably take her off medication. What is she on? Antibiotics in case is it lyme disease? Or an anticholinesteras medication in case it is Myasthenia Gravis. If the latter, you need to be very careful about her seeming sluggish. It can be a sign that she doesn't have Myasthenia Gravis and she is having a bad reaction to the medication. They put Goya on that the first time he had this problem and it almost stopped his heart.

I also felt that I couldn't imagine how frustrated Goya was. Mastiffs are tempermentally suited to laying around the house anyway, unlike Goldens, so Dakota must be even more frustrated. To keep Goya less depressed I made sure that the other two dogs were almost always with him (they thought that a mattress in the living room was a real luxury, so they wanted to cuddle with him). We brought the TV into the living room, and I worked on my laptop all day in the living room, so we were in there with him the vast majority of the day. We bought a video game chair that was really comfortable, but put me on the ground instead of on the couch, so I could work right down at his head level and give him a pat often.

We did physical therapy with him. Slowly doing "bicycle" with each leg, getting him to push against my hand, or if he couldn't push, holding on to his paw and tickling his toes so he would jerk back against my holding his paw -- bicycle always worked, but the others only worked once he could move a bit. It sounds like Dakota can still move, so these exercises should work.

I got one of the "as seen on TV" ionic dog brushes and did a lot of brushing because he was geeting stinky from just laying around. I kept up with cutting his toenails so when he did get up to walk, they wouldn't be in the way.

I got animal movies and played them on my laptop put right in front of his face. That seemed to cheer him up for all of 5 minutes, so it probably isn't worth the bother.

When he was well enough, I held his favorite chew toy for him (a plastic gallon milk bottle). This made him move around a bit, trying to keep contact with the chew toy that kept moving away. (But it was frustrating too, so I had to keep moving it back to him.)

Mostly, we just stayed with him. If there are any people she especially likes who could visit and pet her, I'm sure that would cheer her up.

Good luck to you and Dakota. If you have any more questions, please post. Bonnie