Coonhound Paralysis In Dogs

Alex German
Oct 20, 2009
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Idiopathic Polyradiculoneuritis in Dogs

Acute canine idiopathic polyradiculoneuritis (ACIP) is a creeping paralysis due to acute inflammation of the nerves. This disease is often seen in dogs that live in North America as well as in those areas where raccoons are present but overall incidence is quite low. Any breed is at risk, but dogs that regularly come into contact with raccoons are at increased risk, such as hunting dogs and dogs that live in rural or wooded areas.

Symptoms presented by ACIP are also classified under a condition referred to as coonhound paralysis. Diagnosis with this disease does not necessarily involve an encounter with a raccoon.

Symptom and Types

  • Symptoms usually appear 7-14 days after contact with raccoon
  • Stiff gait
  • Generalized slow reflexes
  • Low muscle tone
  • Weakened vocal ability
  • Labored breathing
  • Decrease in muscle bulk
  • Facial muscle weakness
  • Muscular weakness in all four limbs which may progresses to paralysis in all limbs
  • Pain
  • Oversensitivity to pain stimuli


Besides the known connection that has been made with affected dogs coming into contact with raccoon saliva, the exact cause of ACIP is still unknown. Viral or bacterial infections are suspected to be responsible, and because of the correlation with the nervous system and neural pathways, an autoimmune link is being researched. It is thought that white blood cells may be attacking the nerves.


Your veterinarian will take a detailed background medical history from you before making the full physical evaluation. You will need to provide a thorough history of your dog's health, onset of symptoms, and possible incidents that might have preceded this condition, such as whether your dog has had recent contact with a raccoon.

As part of a standard physical examination, routine laboratory tests will include a complete blood count, biochemistry profile and urinalysis. Usually the results of all these tests are found to be within normal ranges. More specific tests will also be done, including specific testing for determination of abnormalities of electric activity in peripheral nerves, and an analysis of the spinal fluid, which will require a spinal tap, and the brain fluid (cerebrospinal fluid, or CSF), to look for specific infections that may be causing the paralysis.

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