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Possible coonhound paralysis?

Species: Dog
Breed: Chocolate Lab
Age: 5-8 years
My dogs front right leg went out on him last night. He was on waiting list for ACL surgery on back left leg. Took him to the vet today. They could see nothing on xrays, white count really active on the blood work.

He had his regular vaccines about 2 1/2 weeks ago. I am wondering if it could be Coonhound Paralysis, but the vet says it starts in the back legs and moves forward. When I read the symptoms, it really sounds like Coonhound paralysis. We live in the country, but I do not know of any direct contact that he has had with raccoons. He is predominantly an inside dog. They had sent the dog home with no solutions and I cannot afford to go crazy testing. They are testing for Lyme tomorrow.

Thanks,
Melanie


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Oh, so sorry to hear that Harry is having these problems. This sounds very worriesome.

Coonhound paralysis is a condition that can affect dogs after contact with racoon saliva (although some dogs get this without any known racoon contact.) It causes the immune system to damage the nerves so that the legs are paralyzed.

There is a theory that some dogs can get coonhound paralysis after receiving certain vaccines. The vaccines need to be what is called a recombinant vaccine. It is worthwhile asking your vet if this is possible. If so, the vet will likely contact the vaccine company and they may help you with paying for tests and treatment.

Unfortunately it is difficult to test for, but muscle biopsies sometimes give us an answer. Dogs can recover from this but it can take several weeks or even months for them to fully recover.

It is much more common for coonhound paralysis to affect the back legs, but it is still possible for a front leg to be affected.

I think the lyme test is a very good idea. Any time there is lameness in multiple limbs, lyme is a possibility.

It is also possible that there is a cellulitis (muscle infection) in the front leg. This could be the result of a bite wound or other type of penetrating injury.

Then, there are more rare conditions such as a parasite affecting the spinal cord. These can be hard to pick up without doing a bunch of expensive tests.

I really hope Harry is doing better soon!

Dr. Marie

---This question was asked in our Ask A Vet For Free section.---


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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. AskAVetQuestion.com and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.