Patient of the Month - Jasper
This sweet man is Jasper, a 10 year old cavoodle. Jasper was brought in to see Dr. Lauren on a weekend after his mum noticed some progressive changes. Over the course of a few days his mum had noticed that he was getting weaker, his bark was changing, and he was constantly salivating.
On presentation Jasper had no gag reflex and was struggling to hold himself up, let alone walk. These clinical signs are most commonly seen with snake bites and ticks, however the slow progression over days didn’t fit with snake envenomation and Jasper or his family hadn’t travelled – making a paralysis tick unlikely.
After a thorough tick search and some tests to rule out snakes and other causes of progressive paralysis a diagnosis of Polyradiculoneuritis was reached.
Polyradiculoneuritis or “Coonhound Paralysis” is an acute immune mediated inflammation of the movement and sensory nerves in the body that typically progresses to paralysis over the course of 5 days. Unfortunately, this is an “idiopathic” condition which means a specific cause has not been identified, however it has been linked to feeding raw chicken and the bacteria that is found on it. These bacteria would likely be harmless in most animals but occasionally will be linked with a patient like Jasper.
There is no specific treatment for Polyradiculoneuritis so supportive care and physiotherapy are provided to keep the patients healthy until the inflammation subsides.
As with most cases Jasper got worse before he got better. At the point his paralysis was most severe he was unable to blink, swallow or vocalise, he couldn’t move his legs, and he was unable to go to the toilet himself. His supportive care involved lubricating his eyes, clearing his mouth and throat of the saliva he couldn’t swallow, providing nutrients through an IV fluid line, bladder catheterisation, enemas, and physiotherapy to make sure his muscles didn’t waste.
As his mum wasn’t able to provide the level of care he needed at home, Jasper was in hospital for 3 weeks. During this time his nerves slowly came back to life – he was able to blink and talk to us again, wag his tail, eat small amounts of soft food and take a few steps. Once he was able to blink, stand, swallow and eat, and walk outside to toilet he was able to go home with a very happy and relieved mum. Jasper is still on the mend but is improving every day.