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Coonhound Syndrome in Dogs

Coonhound syndrome (acute polyradiculoneuritis), is also referred to as coonhound paralysis. The name, “coonhound syndrome” was derived because it was once thought to be contracted through contact with raccoons which carried the disease. However, there have been cases where no contact with raccoons has been associated. Whatever its origin, coonhound syndrome acts like an auto-immune disorder, resulting in an immune attack on the nerves near the base of the spinal cord. As a result of the immune attack, puzzling and frightening symptoms arise suddenly.

What are the Symptoms?


Symptoms of coonhound syndrome generally come on quickly over a period of one to seven days. The first symptom that may be noticed is that the dog’s bark seems to sound strange or different. This syndrome causes an increasing paralysis, and in some cases the paralysis begins with the dog’s vocal muscles, having an effect on the quality and tone of the dog’s bark. The primary symptoms associated with this disorder include weakness in the rear legs, which later spreads to the front legs. The dog’s gait can become stiff, the muscles begin to atrophy, and sometimes the dog becomes very tender to the touch.

Initially, at the onset of these symptoms, owners may not be overly concerned. Most dogs with coonhound syndrome will continue to have a healthy appetite, are alert, and otherwise seem fine. Before long however, the symptoms progress and it is apparent that something is terribly wrong. There is no specific veterinary treatment for the condition except to give comfort and support. The symptoms of Coonhound Syndrome can range from mild to severe. Some dogs will only develop milder symptoms, having a shorter recovery time of a few weeks. In worse cases, the paralysis can spread to the respiratory muscles. In these cases, the dog may require respiratory support to allow the dog time to recover from the syndrome.

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