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, July 09, 2012

Short note about this blog

Bonnie and I recently moved to Manhattan. We have a great apartment, and take our 3 dogs for a walk in Central park 3 times a day. We now have 2 mastiffs, and an English setter. The first walk of the day and the last walk is when dogs can be off lead. The setter loves that part, and runs all around us easily getting more exercise than she got in Pittsburgh. One mastiff we got from rescue, is about 5 years old, and is a little slow. The other mastiff is Bonnie's mid-life puppy, and is about 2 years old. They stay on lead all the time.

Our dogs get lots of interest, and they are often photographed as NYC points of interest. One of the people we were talking to, mentioned that one of her dogs liked to chase raccoons on Long Island where she spent the week as a vet tech. This dog caught a strange disease that her vet had only heard about in Veterinary school. Bonnie and I both said coonhound paralysis? Yes it was, and she was fairly certain that she had read this blog and found it both useful and inspiring. Her vet didn't know what to do. He had never seen a case. He thought she had learned more from this blog and other internet sources than he knew.

The key point for me is this interaction was evidence that this blog is still serving it's purpose. It is giving people hope, and providing them with ideas on how to handle this illness. It was great to run into someone that actually had read the blog and found it useful.


  • At Sat Jul 21, 02:05:00 PM EDT, Blogger gilyn said…

    Thank you so much for this blog. It's been a continuing source of real world information and inspiration as we navigate this obstacle-laden path with our own dog.

  • At Tue Sep 11, 03:24:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Jacquie and Robert said…

    Our German Shepherd, Charlie, walked into the waiting room at the UGA vet clinic on May 28 and did not walk again until August 20. When the UGA vets told us that they could not do anything more for Charlie we were devistated. They thought he had Coonhound paralysis and that the prognosis was that he would walk again, they just could not tell us when. Our heads told us they were giving us their best information and a correct diagnosis, but our hearts told us were taking Charlie home to die. However after finding your blog hope returned and we could see that there was a light at the end of the tunnel. After a tough three months, Charlie has started walking again. Thank you so much for your blog, I don't think we would have survived this journey without your help.

  • At Mon Nov 12, 01:43:00 AM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Your blog has gotten me through one of the most terrifying weekends of my life. My dog, Red, came down with Coonhound Paralysis last Friday and I've been referencing this blog very frequently since then. Goya, Gary, and Bonnie, thank you so much for sharing your experience with the virtual world so others could have guidance and inspiration during such a frightening time.

    By the way, Red's doing pretty well. He spent Friday night at the hospital but was able to come home yesterday. We've been providing much supportive nursing care (turning, massaging, feeding, catheterizing him, trying to get him to have a bowel movement, etc).

    By today, he has made progress and is able to hold his chest up and wiggle his core around. Still can't move his legs much and the back two are pretty flaccid. He has come a long way since Friday though (he became completely paralyzed from the neck down over a very short period of time) and I pray he can recover like your beautiful dog, Goya, did.

    Thanks again from the bottom of my heart,


  • At Mon Nov 12, 02:36:00 PM EST, Blogger Gary said…


    So happy to hear that Red is doing so well. Nursing care worked wonders for us.

    Best of luck

  • At Tue Nov 13, 10:14:00 AM EST, Blogger Frankly Speaking said…

    Our dog, a 5 year old Australian Shepherd...who has one of the biggest and best souls I know... Zeke... is in his 4th week of paralysis. Fortunately it has not affected his respiratory system yet or his ability to do his business. He is able to get to the sternal sitting position on his own. He can scooch around to get to his bathroom spot outside. Doing Range of Motion and making sure he stays hydrated is of big concern. I cart him around in an old red wagon and have gotten quite strong carrying him about..he weighs 70# or did and I weigh 112, upstairs, into the his favorite place besides my lap..the front seat of the truck.

    What I'm wondering about is the last day or so, he has begun to lick his front legs which are the most affected by paralysis. I'm hoping that he is feeling a tingly sensation which could indicate repair of nerves and not just a projection of distress or boredom.

    Have any others that have had recovery of their buddies seen this? The last insult would to have to put a collar on him. He hates them.

    He has had too many interactions with coons....the most amazing being the time about 3 years ago, a crazy racoon lunged at my bare legs as I entered the garage. Zeke flung himself at the coon and stopped its attack. The racoon instead latched onto the front of Zeke's chest and throat. He ended up having stitches after I was able bludgeon the crazy racoon off of him.

    So I have to do the best by Zeke. I just worry that I am doing this for myself rather than what is right for him. Thanks for you ear.

  • At Thu Feb 14, 12:31:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi! My name is Megan and I am currently caring for my dad's GUIDE dog, a 6 year old yellow lab named Mannix who is unfortunately fighting his 4 th episode of coonhounds paralysis. He's been down for 4 days now. We have also noticed Mannix will have major licking of his feet towards the end of an episode we think his feet must be getting sensation back. This condition is so heart breaking! Mannix was the best guide dog ever & kept my Dad safe for several years.. We owe it to Mannix to get him through this.

  • At Thu Feb 14, 01:05:00 PM EST, Blogger Gary said…

    Megan, My heart and best wishes go out to you. 4 episodes is a tremendous burden on both the dog and the family. It is also even a better indication than Goya that Nursing care can get a dog through an episode.

    I wonder about Mannix's experience in the multiple episodes. Goya's second episode was much more severe. I don't believe we would have thought he would come back if we didn't have the short first episode. Are Mannix's episodes getting worse, or lasting longer?

  • At Mon Mar 04, 05:00:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi Gary! Thank you for your response! The first 2 episodes with Mannix were mild in comparison to his 3rd. His first 2 episodes his front legs were mostly spared.. We were able to "sling" him with a towel to take him out to potty & within 3 weeks he was almost back to normal. His 3rd episode was his worst. He had to go back to Guide Dogs for the Blind's vet clinic to be cared for as he was completely paralyzed, barely able to hold his head up. He had none of the respitory issues, thankfully! He was at guide dogs for 3 months. It was heartbreaking. He was officially retired as a guide dog. Once he could walk he came home. After a few weeks he was doing so well that my Dad asked the vets & trainers at guide dogs to reevaluate Mannix's guide dog status. They were shocked at how well he was doing, he was strong as ever & super happy to. E back on the job. This 4th episode we are dealing with now is milder compared to his last. He is down front & back so my husband carries him out to potty. He can & does crawl all over the place. And we have decided to adopt him! My Dad has applied for another guide dog. We are hopeful that of his environment changes maybe he won't get this again!? Any thoughts on that? We know he never had contact with a raccoon, so we are assuming its something else in his environment that is triggering these episodes. I asked my husband the other night how long do we do this? He said we do it until Mannix is done. That's the heart wrenching part of this is he still the happiest dog I know. And he adapts so easily to how his life has changed. I know our neighbors think we're crazy hauling a huge dog in & out. But we are hopeful he will recover! What choice do we have?'! Thank you so much for listening..-megan

  • At Mon Mar 04, 08:45:00 PM EST, Blogger Sue Laufer said…

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • At Mon Mar 04, 08:51:00 PM EST, Blogger Sue Laufer said…

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • At Mon Mar 04, 09:04:00 PM EST, Anonymous Sue said…

    Our female Labradoodle, Zoe, developed Coon Hound Paralysis after having received vaccine (including rabies) in the summer of 2011. Approximately two weeks after she was vaccinated, she was diagnosed and did not recover completely from her paralysis for 3 months. Thank goodness she did recover completely. She is now due for her 3 yr rabies vaccine and I'm not sure what to do. We live in Massachusetts and our vet has said that she can override the vaccination requirement which of course puts Zoe at risk for rabies. I am considering having her evaluated by a holistic vet to determine what alternatives may be available. I understand the killed rabies virus tends to be associated with most adverse reactions. I'm not sure whether she received the killed or attenuated live vaccine. I will ask her current vet to check her antibody titer. Any suggestions out there?

  • At Tue Mar 05, 01:57:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    To Zoe's owner,
    I think the best thing to do would be to have a titer test done on her. If her titers are good I don't think she would be at any greater risk of getting Rabies than a vaccinated dog would be. We are thinking of doing this for our dog also. Even though, we are pretty sure his episodes were not caused by vaccines. Good Luck with her!

  • At Tue Mar 05, 09:01:00 PM EST, Anonymous Sue said…

    Megan- thanks so much for your response. I spoke to my vet today and in her opinion the titer test is really useful only if you're traveling out of the country with your dog and a foreign country requires it. I suppose an owner would also have additional peace of mind knowing that their dog's titers provided adequate protection. As for our dog who presumably had an adverse reaction to the vaccine (which as it turns out it was not rabies but Leptospirosis and Lyme) the issue is whether or not we risk the paralysis by vaccinating her for rabies prophylactically. My understanding is that even if her rabies vaccination was up to date, if she was bitten by a rabid animal, they would vaccinate her immediately again. In that scenario, we'd obviously risk the paralysis or she wouldn't survive the rabies.
    It's complicated and I'm still not sure what we'll do, but thanks again for your input!

  • At Mon Oct 14, 09:38:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    This comment is 2 years overdue. My dog survived a bad case of coonhound paralysis nearly 2 years ago. I referenced this blog regularly during the ordeal, and it was not only informative, but quite honestly helped encourage me to keep pushing though when I know others might have made a fatal choice about his future. After a month down and paralysis in every inch of his body - he started to recover. I learned canine physical therapy and taught him to walk again over the course of a couple of months. 2 years later - he is 6 years old - and it's like it never happened. 100% recovered. It was one of the most terrifying and sad times of my life. Thanks for all of this information to help get us through. Despite there being little information online, I learned all I could, and eventually his vet said I knew more about coonhound paralysis than even he did. We can never advocate too much for the health of our family members - canine or otherwise. I believe his case was caused by over vaccination (standard vaccination in the US). He now only gets the rabies vaccine as it's the only one required by law. He's been healthy ever since. (Knock on wood.) Thank you again for this great resource.

  • At Sat Mar 01, 07:34:00 AM EST, Blogger Baldeo Yadav said…

    I read your blog. Such a great information which is very helpful for us.Thanks for your consideration. If anyone wants to any tips for pets then come with us and get tips for pets.Thanks again.

  • At Sat May 10, 05:09:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  • At Wed May 21, 12:40:00 PM EDT, Blogger shannon bedhief said…

    Thank you so much for this blog and the useful links. My 6 year old yellow lab started her coonhound paralysis struggle on May 5 , 2014. She is still in the hospital at U of Penn in Philly ... Anyone still active here on this blog? I've gotten tons of hope from all the stories... Just my heart is broken into a million pieces watching her with this disease. I will stay with her no matter how long it takes. Just some days I'm strong and other days I cry for my girl all day long. She's one of my children. And such a sweet loving smart girl. Why why why why must she go through this hell ??? I can't tell you what your words have done to help me help her through this !!!

  • At Wed May 21, 01:01:00 PM EDT, Blogger Gary said…

    Shannon, I'm so sorry to hear about your Lab. I do want you to know that the UPenn group are really first class, and can do everything they can. The key though is the nursing care you can provide. Best of luck. Let us know how it turns out.

  • At Wed May 21, 08:28:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Sue said…

    Hi Shannon- our dog Zoe had Coon Hound paralysis presumably from a vaccine. It was devastating while it was going on but she has made a full recovery since. It took a good 2 months before she was fully functional though. Supportive care was all we could do really, but once she left the hospital after 7 days, she to better and better slowly. Good luck. Prognosis is good ...that's what we were told!

  • At Sun Dec 07, 06:32:00 PM EST, Anonymous Lynda said…

    Hi to you all. Hope someone can read this. My little dog Toby is going through this terrible condition for 5 weeks now and still very little improvement. It is very disheartening and it is breaking my heart. Hope he will recover. Only want to see him move one of his legs to give me some hope.

  • At Fri Dec 12, 04:56:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Our 5 year old golden has been diagnosed with coonhound paralysis today. Such a scare. I had never heard of this disease. Our vet says it is quite rare especially here in Southern Ontario. She is at the hospital now and we know she will be cared for very well. Hopefully she will recover fully in the next few weeks. I understand we will probably have to do therapy for her for some time until she recovers. Well that's something we will do with no hesitation for our wonderful Amber. I'm now relieved more than ever. As many have mentioned it is a heartbreaking sight seeing your pet lying there and you have no idea if this is the end or if there is hope. We're very hopeful.

  • At Fri Dec 12, 06:34:00 PM EST, Blogger Gary said…

    Lynda, 5 weeks is soooo long. Goya was down for months, and I want you to know that it was a struggle. I believe if Toby has coonhound paralysis he will recover. That certainly is my experience.

    You are lucky that Toby is "little" though I don't know what that means. Part of the impetus for writing this blog is that handling a "big" dog has its own difficulties.

    Best of luck.

  • At Fri Dec 12, 06:37:00 PM EST, Blogger Gary said…

    To anonymous from So. Ontario

    Best of luck. You are at the beginning of this journey, and I believe your friend will be there wandering around your house and yard at the end.

    Best of luck

  • At Mon Dec 15, 05:45:00 AM EST, Anonymous Lynda said…

    Thanks Gary for your reply. You are wonderful giving people like me some hope with this terrible condition. I have noticed over the last couple of days his back is wriggling more and he is gently pushing off his back legs when we are picking him up. We are doing physio 3 times a day and hydrotherpy in our bath too. But I can see it is going to be a very slow recovery. Hopefully I can post good news in the new year.

  • At Mon Jan 26, 04:37:00 AM EST, Anonymous Lynda said…

    Well it has been over a month since my last post but in that time we have experienced a lot if improvement in Toby. He is now moving his legs in the water both front and back and is 'walking ' in the bath tub. He is attempting to stand up on his back legs and and tends to walk along on his elbows at the front. His bark is also returning. We know he has a long way to go but feel so much more positive as we are seeing small improvements almost daily. Can't wait to see him actually walk again!

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

    Lynda, That is great news about Toby. Our experience is once you can see improvement, the improvement accelerates. The disease disappears, and unfortunately physical therapy begins. Goya needed substantial physical therapy to build up his muscles, but he was down for months the second time.

    Walking in the bathtub sounds very innovative. Wouldn't have worked for Goya, but for a smaller dog I love it. Goya's water physical therapy is basically the same thing. Be sure to have a good drying off party after the work. The drying off was Goya's favorite part.

    Glad to hear the good news, and best of luck.

  • At Mon Feb 02, 06:18:00 AM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    We can't believe it. Toby worked unaided yesterday for the first time in 3 months almost to the day he was struck down. Stood him up in his harness and he just walked off down our passage! Today he walked outside too without harness or support. He just needs us to stand him up and off he goes. He is of course exhausted after his walking but that is to be expected. All the physico work and persistence has paid off. Thanks for this site too as it gave us hope and many ideas on treatment. Feeling on top of the world.
    Cheers Lynda & Toby

  • At Sat Feb 07, 12:42:00 AM EST, Anonymous Lynda said…

    Hi again. Toby has now been walking for 6 days and can get up on his own as well. Can't tell you all how delighted we feel after 3 months of nursing, physicotherpy and hydrotherpy. We feel we have our boy back. To anyone else reading this with their dog in a similar position as we were 3 months ago, have FAITH, your dog will recover. Thanks again Gary for this blog. Really helped us.
    Lynda & Toby

  • At Mon Nov 07, 11:39:00 PM EST, Blogger Celeste Sinclair said…

    Hi, not sure if this blog is still active, but my Ruby was diagnosed 3 weeks ago and is still completely paralysed. I guess I just need to see any improvement to know that she will eventually come right.


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