Causes of Coonhound Paralysis
Coonhound paralysis is thought to involve an immune-mediated attack of antibodies directed against a dog’s own peripheral nerves. It may be precipitated by contact with the saliva of a raccoon following a bite incident, although there is no known scientific reason for this connection. There may be a viral or bacterial agent involved that has not yet been identified. The actual cause of this condition is not well-understood.
Dogs who suffer a bout of idiopathic acute polyradiculoneuritis do not develop immunity to the condition. They remain at risk of subsequent episodes if they come into contact with the causative agent at some later date. Until the cause of this condition is identified, prevention is not possible.
The time from onset of clinical signs to complete paralysis can be as short as 12 hours or as long as 10 days. Owners who notice early symptoms often are not overly concerned, because their dogs are alert and continue to eat and drink normally. As the disease progresses and the dog deteriorates, it becomes increasingly obvious that something is seriously wrong. Until the affected dog recovers motor function in its legs, it will need supportive nursing care around the clock, because it will not be able to rise, stand or walk without assistance. Soft bedding and daily physical therapy are important to a full recovery. As long as supportive therapies are continued, the prognosis for this condition is very good.