The 'agent' then sets off an overreaction of the immune system, which leads to paralysis beginning in the back legs and moving forward, eventually leading to heart attacks and pulmonary failure. Some dogs will continue to eat and drink for a while, some will not.
The treatment for this disease is life support until the worst passes, followed by gradually increasing physical therapy. Once infected, the dog will always be at a greatly increased risk of contracting it again, but it can be survived with proper treatment.
Some symptoms to watch for are:
- Weakness starting in the hind legs and progressing to all legs
- Weak bark
- Development of severe weakness
- Total inability to stand
- Shallow breaths or difficulty breathing
- Stiff or rubbery back legs
- Loss of interest in food and/or water
- General lethargy
- Resistance to attempts to walk the dog
- Loss of bowel and/or bladder control
- Fluid in the lungs
- Heart attack
See specialty pet websites for details, or do a web search.
"Man, my vet told me my dog was just old, but then I found out about coondog paralysis, and he had all the symptoms. If I had known, they could have saved my dog. I never should have let him poke his nose in that hole under the bush."