Coonhound Paralysis

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

Monday, April 09, 2007

URGENT - to Murphy's owner, sro

Dear sro,
Your vet is wrong, wrong, wrong -- the vast majority of dogs with coonhound paralysis RECOVER if nursed. Some in as little as a few weeks (like Goya's first bout with it three years ago), some longer. PLEASE find a new vet; someone who can help you with nursing questions.
Please read about Goya's recovery -- it wasn't 100% but he was mobile and happy to walk to Starbucks every morning. And please follow the links Gary put in the first post or two in this blog -- they point to veterinary pages talking about the disease and prognosis.
Good luck to you and Murphy,


  • At Sun Jul 29, 10:01:00 PM EDT, Blogger Vet2Be said…

    My Golden Retriever was diagnosed with Coonhound paralysis today. It has been a week long battle to find the correct diagnosis. I have been doing physical therapy with her for the last week just to get her muscles in tact, but last night her breathing became labored. And she is having a very hard time ingesting fluid. We had to puree her dog food and feed it to her via syringe. She is also on IV Fluid due to severe dehydration.
    I was just wondering if your dog ever had any respitory problems? I am concerned it might set into her diaphram.
    I am incredibly distressed about this so any advice or websites or books even about this disease would be of great help.
    This is a great site to have! Thank you!

    Chelsea and "Luckie"

  • At Mon Jul 30, 05:58:00 PM EDT, Blogger Bonnie said…

    I am so sorry to hear about Luckie.
    No, Goya never had respiratory problems, although some other owners have reported that their dogs had to be on respirators for a while at the worst part of the disease. Signals to the central muscles come back first, so even if she does have to be on a respirator, it won't be for long (a couple of days is the most I have heard).
    The worst that Goya got to was not being able to hold his head up or wag his tail, and his bark got weak -- all those are central things. The wag was back in a couple of days; the head took longer (you can probably figure it out from my blog post about the timeline of the disease).
    I never found any books or websites that gave much information (I kept seeing the same old prose, over and over) -- that's why we started the blog and hope that people contribute their advice and experience. I'm sorry I can't be more helpful.
    Best of luck to you and Luckie and if you find any more information, please put it on the blog.

  • At Wed Aug 22, 08:05:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Bonnie & Gary, I want to first thank you so much for what you have taken the time to do with this blog. I know you have helped so many people.
    I believe Rocky, our 7 1/2 year young Golden has this disease. The sypmtoms are identical to those described. It has been 6 days now since we noticed him loosing coordination. They have run two sets of blood work, the EMG, and a spinal tap. Although the neurologist had originally thought it was Coonhound paralysis, after the tap, yesterday, he said there was elevated protein and he was concerned that there might be something else (possibly menengitis) going on. I just talked to him and he said we could take rocky home with us (he is still paralyized in the rear). My concern is that if it is menengitis that we should be giving him antibiotics now but they won't. Do you remember if Goya's spinal (if you had one done) came back with an elevated protein count?
    Again thank you so much for this web site.

  • At Thu Sep 06, 11:58:00 AM EDT, Blogger Bonnie said…

    Rocky's owner,
    I'm sorry it took so long to answer -- I've missed a few posts recently and I have to figure out why...
    Anyway, as I remember, Goya's bloodwork was always in the normal range for everything. As I understand it , that's part of why it is so hard to diagnose coonhound paralysis -- there are no markers that show up in blood tests.
    Perhaps Rocky has something that is treatable! That would be a relief.

  • At Thu Sep 20, 04:39:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Doug Koempel said…

    Hi Bonnie & Gary,

    First let me say "thank you" for the detailed account of yours and Goya's ordeal involving Coonhound Paralysis. The actual care of Goya is a full-time job in itself - let alone you having found the time to write such a detailed history of your experience.

    We have a Rottweiler (Shooter) who is into his 5th week of what we believe to be Coonhound Paralysis. I say "believe" because, as you noted, there is no definitive test for diagnosis. It seems to be diagnosis by process of elimination. And in our case, many other things have been ruled out; e.g. Myasthenia Gravis, Tick Paralysis, Rabies, Lyme Disease, blood parasites, etc.

    Nevertheless, we're geared up for a long ordeal and have gotten our nursing care down to a workable routine. Although Shooter has not progressed to the point where we would be able to benefit from many of your rehab procedures, we're definitely going to start the "sternal position/treat tempting" exercise that you outlined. We hadn't even thought of putting him in that position. He's been either left side/right side or sitting up (with our assistance.)

    Shooter's hind legs are completely flaccid, so it's hard to believe that he may ever be able to walk again. Nevertheless, we're given hope and encouragement by reading your accounts of Goya's slow road recovery. And I’m sure there are countless others who have found your blog who are similarly encouraged by your story.

    We will keep you posted (literally) regarding Shooters progress.


    Doug & Tammy

  • At Sat Sep 22, 05:00:00 PM EDT, Blogger Bonnie said…

    Doug and Tammy,
    Best of luck to you and Shooter.
    Yeah, Goya's legs were totally flaccid as well, and we just kept believing the vets and the web that if we kept nursing him long enough, his body would eventually heal itself and it did. "Keep the faith."
    Bonnie and Gary

  • At Thu Oct 11, 02:01:00 PM EDT, Blogger cyrille768 said…

    Hello Bonnie
    My dog Ralph came down with this disease about 3 weeks ago and I really appreciate the blog you have started concerning it. It was so helpful in the first few days. He's coming along fine now but his paralysis is still below his knees and elbows.
    What a strange disease this is. It makes you wonder how many dogs have been put down from people who just don't know about it.

    Thanks again

  • At Sat Nov 17, 03:32:00 AM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi, Our dog, Keoki (9yo akita shepherd) contracted CP in July. My daughter-in-law gave him excellent nursing care and rehab and by Oct. she was able to start intense PT using a harness. We continued PT at the beginning of Oct. using the front harness and a small girth strap for his hindquarters. He was very motivated by food and by the end of Oct. was pretty much back to normal--could even raise his leg to urinate. We also gave him some herbal remedies during his recovery process. Well, this past Monday he relapsed. I don't know whether he had another coon encounter or if this disease includes relapses. He is currently flat out paralyzed again and very depressed. Does anyone know if relapse is common and whether the recovery is longer or quicker.
    today, he has also become less interested in food (like "Luckie") but we are able to give him water. We set his front legs under him and lift his head up. He is able drink more this way until he gets too tired from holding up his head. He appears to be very thirsty. I hope that he doesn't move on to respiratory problems this time. Thank you so much for this blog on Goya's recovery. The information here is the only support system for dealing with this disease. Jan and Family

  • At Sun Nov 18, 05:01:00 PM EST, Anonymous cydunning said…

    This has been such a great site to read about Goya and all the others who have contributed their personal experiences with this baffling disease. I wish I had had something like this four years ago when my Tibetan Terrier, Ziggy had coonhound paralysis. We experienced so many of the same trials you all have gone through (including such things as: the trouble with diagnosis, the distress over elimination, the physical therapy, the unknowing whether we were even dealing with the right disease). Ziggy was initially diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis, bocculism, lyme disease and finally coonhound paralysis.

    Although he never had contact, to my knowledge, with a raccoon, we suspected an immune reaction to treatment with K-9 Advantix (not Advantage). This was the only thing out of the ordinary that preceded his symptom progression from leg weakness (falling down) to total limb paralysis within a few days.

    Ziggy never had trouble breathing and could always lift his head and wag his tail, but could not roll over for about a month. Then he eventually was able to lie sternally, then raise up on front legs, then crawl within another two months. He was motivated by toys and would crawl toward them using his front legs and then chew them up (bless his heart).

    Finally he received physical therapy and with the help of an exercise ball, a sling, the underwater treadmill, and lots of patience, we finally got him back on his feet. The total duration of disease progression and recovery lasted about 6 months.

    Ziggy has since passed away, but over two years passed after recovery from the coonhound paralysis.

    I wanted to respond also to the people who have had recurring bouts with this disease (including Keoki - Jan and family). I was told by the neurologist who diagnosed Ziggy that a recurrence was possible and if it occurred, it could be worse the second time around. I believe Bonnie discovered this to be true with Goya, as well. However, I would certainly encourage people to retain hope and just be patient because full recovery is possible and nearly guaranteed.

    Good luck to all of you...
    And thanks again for this wonderful resource.


  • At Sun Nov 18, 08:20:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thanks for your comments Cyd, It does seem worse this time than last. It breaks your heart to see him. After he drinks water, he sounds congested for a while. Has anyone experienced this? Did the neurologist say that it takes longer for recovery the second time around? Jan and Keoki PA

  • At Mon Nov 19, 07:03:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Keoki passed over the Rainbow Bridge today. Guess he didn't have anything left in him to fight this thing a second time. Jan and Family

  • At Mon Nov 19, 08:45:00 PM EST, Blogger Bonnie said…

    Jan and Family,
    We are so sorry to heat about Keoki.
    We had this sort of relapse with Goya the first time he had coonhound paralysis. He went down in July, had recovered by September, but went down again about 6 weeks later. That was the time that the vets treated him with doxy (which they said years later had not done anything -- that his recovery had been a coincidence). We ut him back on the doxy and he got better again within a few days. That made me think that the doxy was helping him.

    Two and a half years after that, he became paralyzed again, and that was the 8-month process that we've been writing about. This time it was much worse.

    If this sounds confusing, that's because it was. Diagnosis that's very hard to make, medication that isn't supposed to do anything but he gets better, reoccurrance for no decernable reason -- this is a very confusing disease.

    Our thoughts are with you Jan and family,
    Bonnie & Gary

  • At Fri Jan 25, 05:47:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thank you for your informative Blog, I have also been unable to find much information about people's actual experience with their dogs and CP. My dog Shyanne, a 5 year old Golden mix, showed the first sighns in early Oct. 2007. She was stiff legged in the back and usually fell to the left. The vets were bewildered. For a week or two she showed some improvements and for a short time walked almost normally. Then, about three weeks after the first sighns, she gradually got worse until she stabalized. Since late Oct., she can move her legs a little but cannot walk or stand. She stopped wagging her tail late November. she has showed little change for the past two months. Shyanne is happy, can hold her head up, eat and drink by herself, and use the bathroom so long as someone olds her up. She can still bark and enjoys laying in the yard and barking at the horses. We have tried chiropractic work and acupuncture. her vets suggested the possibility of CP, but they told us dogs with that usually get better after a month or two. I noticed several accounts of dogs who have had this for 6 or eight months. i know that I have not given a very detailed account of Shy's health situation, but does this sound like it could be CP from your experience? We have ordered her a "quad cart", its a dog wheelchair, so hopefully this will help with physical therapy.
    thanks again

  • At Sat Jan 26, 06:43:00 PM EST, Blogger Uli said…

    Hi Bonnie and Gary, I've been reading your blog with interest. I have a skunk who became paralysed and I searched the Internet for weeks and months to find out what it could be. The most likely thing I came up with was Polyradiculoneuritis (coonhound paralysis) but caused by toxoplasmosis. I was wondering if you could read my skunk's web page
    and let me know what you think? He was put on prednisolone and end of October (I haven't updated his web page since September) I tried to slowly wean him off which made him a lot worse again so after 2 weeks I put him back on the full dose and he has been getting better but still not as good as he was before I tried to wean him off. I know steroids are not supposed to help but it looks like they did? He can crawl at the moment but the right front leg is still lame and often he just doesn't want to move and I don't know why. I would appreciate your opinion as to whether it could be Polyradiculoneuritis or not... And what treatments I should try. We don't have any physical therapists anywhere near and Tyler doesn't like water. So I'm just doing range of motion (?) exercises and making him crawl a few times a day so he'll build up muscle.

    I hope your Goya will not go through this ordeal again.

    Best wishes

  • At Sat Feb 02, 12:38:00 AM EST, Blogger Kris said…

    Dear Bonnie and Gary,

    I hope you are still receiving notifications of comments to your site.

    I would like to thank you for all the info you have posted on this site. I hope that Goya is still up and walking around.

    My 6 year old Black Lab x Rotti is finally home after being struck down with what is suspected as Coonhound Paralysis a week ago.

    Thankfuly she has now stabilised and is able to sometimes lift herself to sit sternally, wag her tail and this morning when I woke up she had scooted herself across the lounge!

    We are now in the process of working out how we are going to rehabilitate her and the info provided in your site has been invaluable. Thank you!

    We were very surprised to find out that our dog could possibly have Conhound. We live in New Zealand and don't have Raccoons here! I now understand that it is a immune disorder.

    Your information has inspired me to share our experiences with other people in the hope that I may be able to help someone else get through this like you have for me.

    Thank you again for all your information.

    Kristina and Kiera

  • At Sun Feb 03, 09:56:00 AM EST, Blogger Bonnie said…

    Ashlee (Shyanne's mom), Ulrike (Tyler the skunk's mom), Kristina and Kiera, and anyone else reading,

    I am sorry that I haven't kept up with comments. As I just posted in the main part of the blog, Goya died of cancer 10 months ago, and quite frankly, it has been too painful for me to write to this blog very much. Perhaps now that I've written about Goya's death, I will be able to post more.

    Shyanne's progress does seem similar to our experience the second time. The first time, Goya was almost back to normal in 6 weeks, but the second time it was 8 months. So the disease might be more variable than the vets know about.

    I'm sorry Ulrike, but I know nothing about skunks. I read your website and there are a few differences. Tyler could scratch himself with is back legs; Goya couldn't move at all. Tyler seems stiff to you; Goya was always flaccid until he started to recover and then he was only able to give a little resistance.

    Kristina and Kiera (are these two human names. or is Kiera the dog?), best of luck to you. Scooting across the lounge sounds like great progress!

    Good luck to all of you and please keep coming back to share your experiences.

    Bonnie & Gary

  • At Wed Dec 15, 11:46:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I like this site. Really nice place for all

  • At Thu Mar 17, 12:22:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    OMG that is great! I adore your work! Guess I am not as up-to-date as your regular readers! I swear I have fallen in love with this blog... Fabulous writing! You're an outstanding and talented person, keep up the individuality :)

  • At Thu Dec 04, 11:48:00 PM EST, Anonymous Lynda said…

    Not sure this blog is still on going but I had to post a comment. Our boy Toby has come down with Coon hound about a month ago and is still unable to walk but is getting stronger with his back and neck muscles. It is very dishearting watching him go through this but this blog has given us some hope for a recovery. That's for posting all your stories. Lynda

  • At Fri Dec 05, 06:49:00 PM EST, Anonymous Lynda said…

    Hi I posted the last comment a couple of days ago. Wondering if anyone else is going through this battle with their dog at the moment? We are finding the journey very discouraging with very little improvement. Maybe we need a little moral support and advise. Will our little boy EVER walk again ?

  • At Sun Jul 31, 12:07:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said…


    My 18 month old Cocker had coonhound and reading these blogs has made me feel slightly more at ease. We are in week 6 now and his tail started moving. He doesn't have any strength in any of his legs yet..however put him in the paddling pool and he will move all four's slow but it's movement.

    I must say it's extremely exhausting for both him and I. He cries more and more each day. Some days are better than others.

    Coonhound isn't that well known in the UK so everything we do we just have to hope is helping.

  • At Mon Oct 23, 07:16:00 AM EDT, Blogger Naturalherbs Solutions said…

    You can utilize Astragalus root extract to improve the optimal functioning of your immune system and area off fatigue. Due to this reason, it is a good herbal remedy for  Myasthenia Gravis Natural Treatment .

  • At Tue Jul 31, 08:21:00 PM EDT, Blogger B Hems said…

    We are in our second round of this. First diagnosed 2 years ago. Do you know if recovery is similar for re- occurrence?


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