Coonhound/Raccoon Paralysis is believed to be an immune-mediate disease however the pathophysiology is unknown.
The dog’s nervous system and peripheral nervous system are affected the most with cranial nerves being involved in some dogs. Primarily cranial nerve VII and X. Respiratory paralysis is secondary in some patients.
Coonhound/Raccoon Paralysis is most common in North American but can be found in Central and parts of South America. The common factor in all dogs that contract this syndrome is the interaction with Raccoons.
Any breed of dog can contract Coonhound/Raccoon Paralysis it is however; believed that Coonhounds are infected more commonly because of their use in hunting and treeing Raccoons for sport.
Signs of Coonhound/Raccoon Paralysis appear in 7 to 14 days after contact with a raccoon. First signs are stiff joints in the leg region. Some dogs show signs of respiratory systems being affected and facial paresis. It should be noted that appetite and water consumption along with urination and defecation appear to remain normal.
The duration of these neurologic issues ranges from several weeks upwards to 4-6 months depending on the severity of neurologic involvement.
Your veterinarian may run laboratory tests such as Serum immunoglobulin’s and other immunological studies. No X-rays are needed to diagnosis Coonhound/Raccoon Paralysis.
Treatment can be long and difficult. Inpatient should take place in the first 4-6 days when the dog needs to be closely monitored for respiratory problems. In some severe cases ventilator support may be required. Stabilized dogs can return hoe and cared for by family. It is important to encourage the dog to move as much as possible. There are no diet restrictions. Make sure that a paralyzed animal can reach food and water and if necessary hand feed the dog.
Keep in mind that good family care is necessary for a complete recovery of this syndrome. Use soft and resilient bedding and it must be kept clean of all urine and feces. Bathing the dog frequently may be necessary to keep the skin clean and free of bacteria. There is no drug or magic that will cure Coonhound/Raccoon Paralysis, keep the dog hydrated and if necessary use of ringer’s solution done intravenously by the vet may be needed. Finally keep the vet abreast of everything that is going on during home care. Give the Vet clear and honest information, as this is the only way to treat the family dog that has contracted Coonhound/Raccoon Paralysis.
Most dogs are back to normal at the end of treatment. However, it is believed that new contact with a Raccoon can trigger another attack of Coonhound/Raccoon paralysis so it will be necessary to keep the family dog away from any Raccoons and take steps to find ways to keep Raccoons away from the property.