Case Study: Rehabilitation of Coonhound Paralysis in Dogs

Halley in Early Stage of Coonhound Paralysis

by Krista Niebaum, MPT, CCRT, Director of Rehab Therapy at Scout’s House


Coonhound paralysis is an acute polyradiculoneuritis that was first recognized in the Coonhound breed and appeared to be associated with exposure to raccoon saliva (via a scratch or bite). However, it is now known that it can affect any breed and also occur without any apparent raccoon exposure. Current thought is that Coonhound paralysis is an immune-mediated disease with onset of signs occurring 1-2 weeks after exposure to the trigger. Typical signs include a stiff-limbed gait that progresses to weakness or paralysis of all limbs (LMN tetraparesis or tetraplegia). Weakness usually begins in the hind limbs, then progresses forward to involve the forelimbs. Muscle atrophy rapidly occurs. Spinal reflexes are lost but pain perception remains intact. In many affected dogs, the ability to vocalize is compromised. Respiratory paralysis may also develop, necessitating mechanical ventilator support. Signs can continue to progress for up to 10 days, then may last for up to 4 months. Pain sensation remains intact and bowel/ bladder continence is maintained.

Treatment options for Coonhound paralysis are limited, but the prognosis for full recovery is good. Glucocorticosteroids have not been found to be effective. High dose IV immune globulin therapy can be used but is expensive. Time for the damaged axons to remyelinate is required. Ensuring that good nursing care and nutrition is provided at home is key. Physical rehabilitation is also believed to maximize functional recovery.

Halley, a female Brittany Spaniel, was estimated to be 4 ½ years old when she was left in a shelter drop box in northern California. At the time of her intake examination, she was only able to wag her tail. She was also able to breathe without difficulty. Otherwise, Halley was paralyzed. As she arrived at the shelter without any history, several diagnoses were considered to explain Halley’s tetraparesis, including spinal trauma, tick paralysis, botulism, myasthenia gravis, and rabies. After thorough examination at the veterinary emergency clinic, Halley was given the diagnosis of Coonhound paralysis. Halley was a very lucky girl as she was rescued and then fostered by a member of the American Brittany Rescue group one week later. When Halley was discharged to her foster owner’s care, instructions were given for passive range of motion activities and an appropriate repositioning schedule to avoid skin breakdown. She was also referred to Scout’s House for physical rehabilitation.

Halley arrived at Scout’s House for her rehabilitation evaluation four weeks after she was initially left at the shelter. By that time, she had regained the ability to actively move her head and neck against gravity through small ranges of motion, but she remained dependent with all functional mobility. She lacked voluntary movement of her trunk and limbs, but she was still able to wag her tail. Spinal reflexes were absent (except perineal reflex, which was normal). She presented in lateral recumbency and required complete assistance to move to and maintain sternal position. When moved into a supported sitting or standing position, Halley required complete assistance and was unable to accept weight through any of her limbs. Muscle atrophy was observed throughout all four limbs and trunk, and the abdomen appeared distended due to lack of abdominal tone. Pain perception was present, but she still lacked withdrawal. Halley was continent of bowel and bladder; her owner carried her outside several times each day for eliminations (performed in lateral recumbency). Despite her debilitated status, Halley appeared in good spirits and wagged her tail whenever someone interacted with her.

Halley was initially seen at Scout’s House at a treatment frequency of one session every 1-2 weeks. These early sessions included neuromuscular electrical stimulation use, Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation techniques to begin addressing trunk stability, and stretching/soft splinting of bilateral carpi due to mild flexion contracture development. Focus was also placed on owner education and instruction in an appropriate home exercise program. Halley’s foster owner was instructed in positioning methods for joint protection and postural re-education, passive range of motion and stretching techniques, and her own proper body mechanics to avoid injuring herself when transporting Halley around her home and yard.

At approximately two months after onset, Halley was able to maintain a sternal position without support (once positioned) even while eating her meals. She also began showing voluntary movement of proximal musculature of all four limbs (forelimbs greater than hind limbs) and increased trunk control. Given this improved strength and motor control, facilitated rolling activities were initiated to promote independence when transitioning between lateral recumbency and sternal. Balance activities, such as small-range reaches for treats while positioned in sternal, were included in her program. Two weeks later, Halley’s foster owner reported observing Halley moving herself into sternal. She was also starting to scoot/commando crawl short distances in the home.

At three months post-onset, Halley’s treatment frequency was increased to two sessions per week as her strength and endurance gains allowed for a more intense rehab program. Neuro-Developmental Treatment techniques were utilized to assist and facilitate transition from sternal into supported sit. A physioroll was used to support Halley in a standing position while gentle weight shifting and manual contacts encouraged activation of anti-gravity musculature.

At four months, Halley’s foster owner reported that Halley was able to stand without assistance for two minutes (once assisted into stand). She continued to require facilitation during transitions from sternal into sit (minimal assistance) and sit into stand (moderate assistance). One week later, Halley was able to independently move herself from sternal into sit. Therapy sessions continued to include facilitated sit to stands and progressed to include pre-gait activities such as standing weight shifting in water and use of an overhead lift with sling support “on land.”

When the five month mark was reached, Halley and her owner (who had now formally “adopted” Halley) surprised the rehab staff by walking into the clinic. Halley’s gait was slow and stilted, she demonstrated a wide base of support with her hind limbs, and she lack tarsal flexion bilaterally during swing phase, but she was able to ambulate on level surfaces without assistance. Although a front harness was still used for safety, Halley was also able to perform all transitional movements independently at this time.

Halley continued her therapy intermittently over the following three months to address coordination, gait quality, and mobility over varied surfaces, including stairs. Underwater treadmill walking, Cavaletti rails, wobble boards, and weaves were added to her program. Today, she is able to negotiate stairs, trot over uneven ground, jump up onto the owner’s bed, and has even participated in mock field work with other dogs in the local Brittany club. Although Halley’s prior level of function is unknown, her current mobility suggests that she has experienced a full recovery.

As demonstrated by Halley’s case, Coonhound paralysis can be a debilitating disease with a prolonged recovery time. However, with time and consistent care from a dedicated owner and rehabilitation team, the functional outcome for these patients can be excellent. Watching a previously paralyzed dog running and playing in a field is certainly a wonderful reward for everyone’s hard work.

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30 Responses to “Case Study: Rehabilitation of Coonhound Paralysis in Dogs”

  1. Gita says:

    I would much appreciate any more information about the techniques as my dog (which has mammary gland tumour) has suddenly become progressively unable to use rear, then front legs and now cannot sit up by herself.

  2. scoutshouse says:

    Gita, I wish we could help you but the State of California has very strict rules about practicing physical rehabilitation therapy without having first done a physical examination on the animal. Your best resources would be either your veterinarian or a rehab center near you. If you aren’t sure if there is the latter, please let us know where you live and we will let you know if there is a rehab therapy center nearby.

  3. Gita says:

    We are in Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur…I am gently massaging every day and in fact last night she actually sat up- I mean stayed sitting up fora few seconds several times on her own-I have also noted down some web resources for dog massage…
    I would much appreciate any small guidance you are able to give

  4. Pat Fisher says:

    I’m a rehabilitator of raccoons in Northern Michigan. I’ve had this happen 4 times with animals in my care now,after apparently recovering from raccoon parvo (feline panleukopenia,or “Feline Distemper”): they are apparently recovered,then start to stumble,then over several days the condition progresses to complete loss of motor function,except they are able to lift their heads and eat and drink and talk. This happened to 2,4 years ago;one was euthanized,the other I kept for 1 1/2 years,trying everything under the sun to make her better. She became rigid,like a living rigor mortis,and I finally euthanised her as she was definitely no longer happy. I didn’t have parvo for 4 years,but it hit this year just before I was to release the remaining 15 animals(I had 33–thank God I’d released the others a few weeks before). I managed to save 12 using the human drug Tamiflu;the other 3 I probably could’ve saved had I known in time they’d been vomiting up their meds;I then dosed everyone rectally,and all recovered completely,or seemed to,then 2 of them developed the creeping paralysis mentioned above,getting worse everyday. Any ideas or suggestions are soooo welcome. Thanks.

  5. Elizabeth M. says:

    What a great article, and I’m so happy Halley was able to recover. Not all dogs are that lucky at all. The article outlines exactly what we endured from December 2009 to March 2010 with our 10 year old Jack Russell, Mindy (non-raccoon). At the end of March, after home rehabilitation (at our vet’s recommendation) she started walking on her own. The road to recovery was very long, and although she cannot (yet) jump up on the beds, I’d like to find more information on the longer term issues we may face. Our vet has said to give her a little more time, especially throughout the summer for improvements. Currently her muscles and body twitch, sometimes a whole body twitch, other times more localized to limbs. This happens 24/7; it wakes her at night, she does a loud moan and moves into another position (similar to restless leg symdrome in humans?). Any direction to what we possibly could expect on the horizon would be kindly appreciated.

  6. sue blakey says:

    Hi there, We live in New Zealand (no raccoons!!!!) and our little 11 year old Jack Russell came down with this disease 6 weeks ago. He was cleared of all the other possible diagnoses, in particular Myasthenia gravis and had classic polyradiculoneuritis symptoms. I have terrible melt down days where I cannot believe he will ever walk again and these articles have been so uplifting for me. His muscle wasting is awful but we have him swimming, with support 3 times a day in our pool and all legs are moving really well. But on land his legs do nothing. Over the last few days he has been demonstrating some strong wriggling and rolling and trying to come to us when we ask him to but he cannot seem to get any purchase in the limp little legs. I would be very interested in how to get him into sitting position. His forelegs are just like little bits of rope dangling!! We stopped physio ( but do the swimming instead) because of his screaming and yelping which our specialist says was due to hyperaesthesia and not pain but I am not convinced he isn’t hurting he snarls and screeches,yelps when we try to stretch his tendons. His voice is much stronger now and he has had good head control since about Week 3. Very interested in some info on the physio and techniques you used for getting him into a sitting position even though the front legs are useless. and what we can do to facilitate his legs getting some movement.. There is absolutely no support in his legs at present.

    Many thanks



  7. Elizabeth McBain says:

    Hello Sue, I know first-hand how heartbreaking this is, and all the uncertainty that comes with it. I made a sling for Mindy that attached to a duffle bag strap, which we would use to walk up and down the hallway, with her just paws just above the floor, as an aid to assist her in walking. Her legs did nothing. We fashioned this to a baby walker so she could be in on “the play” but she just watched, couldn’t move. My young sons found more fun with putting her on top of the babywalker sling, and pushing her around the house chasing our other Jack Russell. Although silly at the time, we noticed how her bark improved (loves to bark and chase), her head turning improved, and she loved being in on the action. We played tug-of-war with a toy and she held on longer over time. Leg-wise, we used the same sling with pool noodles fashioned to it for a swim or soak in the bath-tub or laundry tub, and massaged them gently while watching TV at night. She did not like this much, but beared it and just enjoyed being curled up on our laps.
    Eventually she got stronger and started squirming around and steadying herself using her shoulders on downwards to paws over several weeks. She moved about on her elbows a lot, paws knuckled inwards, and tried to push with her rear legs. We tried to get her to a sit position, but it wasn’t until she butted up against the couch (to keep from sliding backwards) that she could sit. Give this a try, having some support to keep from sliding ~ and be sure to give a treat for every effort.
    I wish you the best of luck. If you need further info or pics, please contact me.
    Kind Regards,
    Elizabeth McBain

  8. Brenda says:

    My 9 year-old 95 lb. black lab, Angus, was bitten by a coon August 2009. He could not stand for 2 weeks but within 4 months had a full recovery. He was bitten again in Feb 2010 and started his 2nd round of coon hound paralysis on 3-1-10. He lost complete mobility, no barking, no tail wagging, and could not perk his ears. He could eat soft food, could breathe without assistance, maintained bowel control, and could stay in a sternal position if you helped him get there. I personally did 3 hours a day of massage therapy and range of motion therapy. He lost over 20 pounds and his muscle wasting was devastating. For nearly 6 weeks he made little to no improvement but was able to stand up on his own after 4 months. By 7 months the only remaining evidence of his condition is an over-exagerated lifting of his back legs when he steps over anything bigger than a soup-can-sized object. Additionally, he does run but both back legs work together — more like a bunny hop. If you are going through this condition with your dog, TIME is really the only thing that will make them better. Therapy definitely helps with muscle wasting and in the recovery AFTER the necessary time has elapsed. Expensive food, holistic meds, acupuncture, etc. may make you feel better but I do not believe they helped my Angus get better. It took the necessary TIME before he started to improve. Love my Angus 🙂

  9. sue blakey says:

    Hi Elizabeth,
    Thanks for your lovely note back in December. We are still struggling with Tas – it is now 6 months and I am getting very depressed. Commando crawls and up on his back legs but front legs just not able to support him properly or walk. He tries but legs cross over, or curl under and he falls sideways and backwards. His personality is back and he is an absolute character but we can see how frustrated he gets at times. would love your email so I can write at length. Have written again to Lisa and hopefully she will have some more good advice.
    Hope your little girl has now fully recovered!
    Kind regards



  10. Elizabeth Whitton McBain says:

    Hello Sue! Please check your name/email link/Starboard page, hope my email address shows up there. Yes, in a way Mindy has recovered from Coonhound paralysis, but she still exhibits many quivers and shakes at all hours of the day or night. Her limbs (muscles, tendons and ligaments) are very hard, and she walks stiff-legged some of the time. We’ve tried massaging her limbs and then applied heat therapy to see if it alleviates the stiffness and twitching. We’ve also changed her diet to more of a protein and carbohydrate diet (eggs, ground beef, potatoes and macaroni as the main ingredients) because these muscle quivers and tremors seem to take a lot of energy from her, and she leans up very quickly. She can drop an easy 3 pounds in a week if she’s not fed on schedule, and often enough (many small meals, similar to diabetic diet in humans). Her blood levels are normal, and our vet has her under observation ~ along with notes we have on her eating and exercise. He is thinking that she may have developed something similar to rippling muscle disease (RMD) which does have a medication, but we’re trying to avoid that at this time. We’re all waiting to see if it worsens. We have a hunch that she may have had this ailment long before the CHP. She has always had a weak bladder which we blamed on hormones and was prescribed Stilbestrol. When she had CHP the leaky bladder stopped. When she started moving around and walking it resumed, and with the quivers and RMD it’s worse.

    One of the measurements we used to see whether or not she was her old self again was the distance she could jump, and whether or not she was back to her old days. I guess we can say that fortunately the steaks are safe on the table or counter now. Before she could jump vertically up to the level of the counter or table and grab a steak if it was close to the edge in a flash. She could also jump straight up onto our bed, something she can’t do now unless she takes a good run at it, but even then it’s not always a success. With the leaky bladder this is a good thing.

    I sincerely hope Taz is making a little progress. We took video of Mindy when she just laid there, then when she commando crawled (I love that reference!), and her first steps. I’m hoping there is a little progress for you. Please keep in touch & let me know if the email link has not worked.

    Kind Regards
    Elizabeth McBain

  11. Annie Beckett says:

    We are two weeks into the acute polyradiculoneuritis experience with our 9 1/2 year old female mini Doxie Bria. The onset was classic. She had the full neuro diagnostic work up and everything else was eliminated. I can’t tell you how helpful it was to me to come across this case study and the comments. I’m gently massaging Bri’s limbs 6-8 times a day and using a rolled towel to assist her in putting her weight on her paws just a little. She attempted a commando crawl yesterday, but gave up almost immediately. She easily rolls from side to side (this wasn’t the case a week ago; I had to turn her), and she has a very erect sphinx position. She wags and has begun batting at me with her front paws when I blow gently on her face, a game we’ve always played. She wags, wriggles and barks, but sounds like a mouse barking!
    We’re going to take her back to the hospital where she was for five days of diagnostics and care for some physical therapy training. I had begun to be very discouraged about the course of this, despite having been told it can take 6 months or more. I needed to hear people’s stories. This site has given me renewed hope. Bria has two Doxie companions, one her son, who are attentive and comforting to her. I can see now that it’s likely she’ll do well over time. Many thanks.

  12. Tara says:

    Hi Sue, My dog Sam a 10 year old mini fox terrier has just been diagnosed. How is your dog getting on. Sam is in his 6th day and still in hospital and he cannot go to the toilet by himself. We live in Australia and I just cant seem to rap my head around this disease. No answer is the worst. How do you cope when you are working. I am now in the stage of do I give up my job to care for Sam. I love him dearly and this is the most heartbreaking thing I have ever encountered. I await your reply.

  13. scoutshouse says:

    Hi Christa, we’re sorry to hear you’re having to go through this with Bob, but you’re on the right track. You can use rolled up towels or blankets as bolsters to help keep him sternal. Be sure to move him regularly so that he doesn’t get pressure sores. And if you have a rehab therapy center where you are (there are some in your area), it would be worth your time and money to schedule an exam for him; they can give you a home exercise program if you can’t afford therapy, although (of course!) therapy would be ideal. Best of luck to you both–Scout’s House

    P.S. Be sure to read our Case Study on Coonhound Paralysis (under Health Resources/Health Library–bottom of the page) on our website at

  14. bossymom62 says:

    Am so sorry to hear about Bob .We to have been through the same thing with our boxer Laila . And its a long recovery . Its been 2 years since we had to rush her to the vet when we let her out to use the bathroom one cold snowy night & she didnt come back to the door to come in . & my husband went out to see where she was & found her laying in the snow not able to walk. we didnt know what had happen . we called our vet & they ask us did she have any blood anyplace and was she in pain , when we said she didnt appair to be in any pain they told us to bring her in when they open at 7am or we could take her to the ER but it would cost 150.00 to 300.00 and if she was not in pain or bleeding then he thought we should wait . so we did because it was already 3am but that 4 hrs seemed like 12 hrs .any way
    i when she first got this she was in the hospital for 3 weeks . then we figurged that after the first 2 weeks all they was doing was PT on her & we could do this ourself at home . we was already paying them 300.00 dollars every week & we loved her so much but we just could not afford that . so I ask them to show my daughter and I how to do what needed to be done ,at home .we didnt like leaving her at the vet anyway they was so rude because they told us that she would be better put down when she was tthere on the 3rd day.we wanted to put them down at that time . so we brought her home and made her a big bed in our living room and took turns working with her . and we used a toewel around her hip to help her walk and to take her out to use the bath room . or to walk her to her dish to eat , even tho her dish was right beside her . we made sure we walked every day . and we made her go out to use the bathroom . some people put them diapers on their pets but that dont help them they need the excersise .
    Our boxer does everything she wants and is very spoild . she is still weak in her hips and still has trouble getting up and down at times and sometimes has trouble getting on our couch and walking up steps and when its cold its more trouble as i read up on .coonhound paralysis they will alway have trouble with their hips and may not ever recover . so I hope i helped you .
    my lalia is now 6 years old

  15. Tara Hemsworth says:

    Hi Christa, I to have a 10 year old fox terrier who has coonhound disease. We live in Australia so not alot is known here about the disease. Sam has been paralised for 7 weeks 3 days. He only has movement in his head and can wag his tail. He has very little bark at all it went two weeks prior to going down. You are fortunate that Bob can still urinate. Sam has had a cathedar the whole time. Keep going by what I have researched he will come good with time at least that is what I am counting on.
    cheers Tara

  16. Christa says:

    Thanks everyone for their kind words of encouragement. I am so glad I know what Bob has and that the prognosis is a good one. I think I would be at my wits end if I didn’t know what it was and thinking that he will be like this forever. Scoutshouse, we live on a small island where unfortunately there is no physiotherapy for dogs. There is however an acupuncturist that I will look into and I am moving his legs many times a day and massaging him.
    As this disease plateaued Jan 1st, I will say that he is now 14 days into it. Nothing has really changed. His tail still wags, he can eliminate, move his head around and hold it up and still squeaks when he tries to bark. Getting him to eliminate is an adventure as he usually had quite a ritual when he could walk, which quite often involved leaning up into a wall or tree 🙂 Bob seems quite alert and is quite often frustrated that he cannot move around freely. I think we are very lucky that it didn’t go as far as his lungs and he still has the functions to eliminate! He loves going on the walk and looking around at things in the make-shift sling I have made to carry him.
    I will keep you informed as to how we are progressing and let you know what happens with the acupuncture. Did anyone put their dogs on any kind of supplements with any success. I heard the collidieal silver worked.


  17. Tara Hemsworth says:

    Hi Christa, This is Tara from Australia. I am on 8 weeks and 2 days now with Sam. Still no movement. We did acupunture for 5 weeks and he has been on chinese herbs. I dont think either have helped. Just think you are gonna have to ride it out. Time and patience. Important to keep those limbs moving. Sam is the same as your dog no movement whatsoever in all four limbs just head and tail. Hang in there.

  18. Christa says:

    Thanks for that Tara. I will see what happens on my end with that and let everyone know. Tell Sam to keep his head up and his tail wagging 🙂

  19. Elizabeth M. says:

    I’m so glad to be updated on the progress of other dogs afflicted with CHP. The big uncertaintly, outside of visits to the vets leaving some of us with more questions than what can be answered, is time. Some dogs are afflicted moreso than others, some take shorter periods to recover. Breathing spasms (raspy difficult breathing episodes that happened every once in a while) were also tough on us. Watching your pet try and breathe – having obvious difficulty, had me worried. I recalled my midwife’s approach during my first child’s labour where she loudly breathed in and out — very — very — slowy, in a low tone. I spoke to Mindy in a low soft tone, and breathed in and out slowly, sometimes while crading her on my ribcage. As nutty as it sounds, there were a few times this actually worked!

    Today Mindy is 12 years old, having suffered CHP 3 years ago (Dec 2009-Apr 2010). The weight she had lost has been recovered, her breathing is fine, she snores loudly for a little dog but that might be age, and the bond she has with us is stronger. Limbwise her tendons still seem very tough and tight, and her muscles still quiver, but she is otherwise her usual Jack Russell self. Body-wise we would consider her 90 to 95% of her former strength. She still needs to take a run at getting onto things that are higher up, but is making it most of the time. Outside, well, she has great balance, lifting her alpha leg up to pee against trees or just on her own which was a far cry from the writhing and flopping she did to evacuate a poop or pee in the snow when she couldn’t use her limbs.

    I would suggest to everyone going through this to stick it through and keep an open mind for this ailment and the unique experience you (and your dog) have lived through. For Mindy we still massage her limbs when sitting on the couch watching TV, hoping the tendons will soften, or at least stay flexible. We are glad from the start that she wagged her tail no matter how bad things were. That indicated, as one vet said, ‘no spinal injuries and if there was any pain, it would be difficult to tell’.

    Taking a video, lots of pictures, and spreading awareness (thanks Sout’s House!) will hopefully help other people enjoy a great number of years with their pets as well.

  20. Tara Hemsworth says:

    i have a question for you Elizabeth, How long before Mindy had movement back in her legs. Was it the full 4 months. I am at 8 weeks 2 days with my dog Sam and no movement whatsoever in all four limbs. I believe that most dogs show movement within 6 to 8 weeks. Rapidly losing hope. I await your reply., cheers Tara

  21. Christa says:

    Yes Elizabeth, I would also like to know the progression of Mindy’s illness. How long did the breathing difficulty last? Bob is having the same problem and I find walking him in my arms like a baby really calms him down. It is awful watching him gasp for breath and I know how it feels, as I have asthma myself. How long was it until you noticed movement in her limbs? I know all these things differ but it would give those of us still going through it something to look towards. Neither I, nor my vet thought that Bob could just have breathing problems some of the time and now I see this has happened before with another dog. This I find is all valuable information for pet owners who are going or will be going through this. It doesn’t seem like there is a lot of information out there.

    The other thing I find interesting is the larger than I imagined proportion of Jack Russels afflicted with this disease. Could it be that they get into things and contact with other animals more often?

    Tara, hang on and don’t lose hope. As you see with others, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

    All the best,


  22. Tara Hemsworth says:

    Thanks for your kind words Christa. My road is coming to an end. I cannot get anymore time off work. It will be 9 weeks at end of this week. I have been on unpaid leave anymore and I will not have a job. I dont know what to say Christa I was full of hope and faith up untill now. Sams legs have wasted so bad even though I am doing the physio 3 times a day they are not sustaining. You are right it seems to be the Jack Russell breed and foxies that seem to be afflicted. Here in Australia there is not alot known about this disease and I have spent hours surfing the web for answers. What I have been gathering is usually by 8 weeks some improvement in legs should be happening. I have not seen any sign of improvement in Sam for weeks not anything. I am crying as I am writing this. been doing alot of that lately. It would not be so bad with Sam if he could urinate but he has had a cathedar in the whole time. He still has a mouse like bark which started 2 weeks prior to going down. He also had a vaccination 2 weeks prior to all this which I am sure must of triggered something. The vets here are only really guessing that it is CHP as there is no real test. I wish there was a magic cure as this little guy is gonna leave a huge hole in my heart. I hope you find a way to see it through with Bob I wish I had more time to give Sam. This is such a nasty affiction, hard to rap your head around.
    All the best to you and Bob.

  23. Elizabeth M. says:

    Tara & Christa, I’ll try and find a way of getting more info (notes, pics, video) to you directly. In regards to the leg movements, we had a period of time (4 to 6 weeks) where there was no movement at all. Any movement from then on was only from her rear quarters and originating from the hip with no movement from the lower part of her legs. Mindy would propell herself around at about week 8-10 by planting her muzzle down on the floor then “seal pupping” herself into another position or to her bowl adjacent to her bed. Her front legs started working from shoulders to elbows shortly after that. It was about this time when we held her in a stand on all 4’s position, an inch off the floor that she showed some signs of moving her legs in a walk. It was maybe a couple steps at he beginning (without weight) but was a guage between no movement and coordination to limbs from brain for natural movement. The experience was almost like a rebirth of life itself, from moving like a newborn pup to squirming around and lightly pushing with limbs to finally lifting and making those first shakey steps….14 weeks later.
    As for breathing, looking back to my notes, it appears her sporadic breathing episodes, which happened from about the 10th day up to a month and a half later started out minimal, worsened by a month’s end, and then happened only on occasion for 14 days after that. During these episodes, which happened at any time day or night, she would take very short small rapid breaths and whine, maintain eye contact (like “help me”), laying completely on her side. At the worst, they never lasted more than 10 minutes and happened about 8 times day/night. During the wee hours of the morning she’d be awake trying to catch her breath and I’d talk to her, try changing a position, and then she’d get through it and go back to sleep. I did not hold her at this time, just let her work herself through it.
    I have found a few inspirational stories on the web, like Goya the Bull Mastiff who came down with it twice, and a series of U-tube video of Tucker a Jack Russell with CHP (potty pads were used to cover him rather than a catheter). I would not lose hope, and given a situation where I would need to return to work I would most likely do so. There is not much that can be done, just time, and the break might be needed. I did go out to my activities from time-to-time, but I can tell you I made it home in record time to see her, and see small improvements that I hadn’t recognized earlier. Crossing my fingers and sending positive paws your way! Cheers! Elizabeth

  24. Christa says:

    Tara, please try not to give up now. You have come so far already. Is there anyone who could take care of Sam while you are at work, or even just look in on? Could you take him to work with you? All dogs are different and I think the ones who have this illness more severely could most likely take longer to mend. It sounds like Sam has been hit pretty badly. And to me it sure sounds like it is CHP, as Bob has exactly the same symptoms as Sam does. It seems like you and Sam have both put a lot of effort into his recovery and time wise it looks like you are almost there!
    Our thoughts are with you,


  25. Christa says:

    I also wanted to mention what is happening with Bob and his breathing episodes. Just like Mindy, his bouts seem to be getting worse and there are more of them. They also started about 10 days into the onset, which was Jan 1st. I have been reading about acupressure points and am massaging the main lung one and the ones on his temple, which are to calm him down. The temple ones seem to be helping, as he gets very freaked out when the bouts happen. He tries breathing and whines and his eyes bulge out. It is very taxing to say the least. When this happens, what I’ve found that soothes him the most though, is what you would do with a colicy baby is I pick him up so that he is lying in my arms with his feet dangling below, cradling his back end and front end under his chest and walk around or walk. I only have to do this for a few minutes and his breathing becomes regular and I can lay him down and he goes back to sleep.

    Well, it’s only been 17 days and I know we have a long way to go. But I feel now that I have found people who have been in similar circumstances really helps. I also feel that now that I am going with the rhythms of this illness and how to react to them is working very well also.

    The best to all who are following this. And never give up hope 🙂


  26. Tara Hemsworth says:

    Hi Christa, I wish you all the best with Bob I hope your outcome is good. I have lost the battle with Sam. I do not have the resources to remain home any longer. My prayers and wishs go out to you and Bob. Please be successful Christa.

  27. scoutshouse says:

    Great news, Christa! Congratulations to Bob–and you. We’re sure it was no small feat getting him back on his feet!

  28. Christine Alvarado says:

    Could anyone provide an email address? I just had my German Shepherd come down with this. We are in the 9th day with no improvement. It is so devastating.

  29. Sarah Morgan says:

    Thank you for this article and all the comments from people all over the world going through this. My puggle (5) had a bad reaction to a rabies vaccine just 3 days ago and within 24hours of this lost her leg function completely and couldn’t even stand. My husband and I were so devastated and rushed her to the vet who thought it may be a number of things (all terrifying). They referred us to an amazing vet hospital where they diagnosed her with polyradicularneuritis also known as coonhound. We are in the UK so no raccoons here just a crazy reaction to a popular jab! We are now 3 days in and know that Winnie is improving already with slight movement happening in her front legs. We feel so lucky that it hasn’t affected her breathing. Hoping to pick her up today and eager to start her recovery therapy. Any tips on therapy methods at home would be greatly appreciated. Love and well wishes to all doggies and owners affected by this sudden traumatic disease <3 Thank you, Sarah

  30. lisa says:

    Sarah, we hope your puggle is completely recovered. If anything like this happens again, please Google “animal physical therapy” or “physical therapy for dogs” for a list of rehab therapists in the UK. There are many!

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