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Weakness in the hindlegs which progresses to the front limbs, difficulty breathing (in severe cases), and changes to facial expression and strength may be seen in your pet; studies show a relation between exposure to raccoon saliva may be a causative factor, hence the name of the condition. Additionally, it is theorized that immune-mediated disease, reaction to vaccine, and certain types of infection may be related.
Changes to the neural pathways will produce clinical signs that are quite apparent; however, other illnesses may need to be ruled out before the diagnosis of acute canine polyradiculoneuritis can be reached.
Acute canine polyradiculoneuropathy is also known as coonhound paralysis. Change in bark, weakness, and loss of bladder control are a few of the symptoms that present with this disease.
It is suspected that coonhound paralysis is related to the excessive stimulation of the immune system, which could be caused by contact with a raccoon’s saliva. Once your dog is bitten or scratched by a raccoon, the symptoms will develop within a week to two weeks. This suggests that there is an immune reaction to the saliva of the raccoon. Other causes that are suspected are:
The examining veterinarian will want to rule out other illnesses that present similarly, which may include:
Blood tests may be performed to verify underlying disease or infection. Clinical signs (such as hind end weakness and respiratory issues), and information from you about your pet’s recent whereabouts or roaming habits may be able to provide clues as to the diagnosis. It is important that you relay all the information you can, whether you feel it is relevant or not; a timely conclusion as to your pet’s present condition is essential due to the dangerous complications that can develop.
The veterinary specialist will recommend inpatient care where the dog is closely monitored. If your dog is experiencing severe respiratory problems, intensive care will be recommended. This means that your pet will likely need oxygen support, recumbency care (turning at intervals and a catheter for urination, for example). IV therapy is essential if your dog is dehydrated due to being unable to get access to water. Nutrition provision will also be important during the therapy and recovery period.
Physical therapy may be required during the recovery period when there is paralysis or reduction in muscle mass. Extra cushioning for your pet as he rests will provide the comfort he will need during his convalescence period; the veterinarian may suggest that you turn your dog at regular intervals so that he is comfortable and to avoid sores. Your veterinarian will discuss other special considerations that could be necessary, including hand feeding and attention to toileting needs. The rate of recovery will vary from case to case, although most canines who experience this illness will need several weeks to a few months extra care before they are back to their usual form. There are some pets who experience residual effects from acute canine polyradiculoneuritis.
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