Coonhound paralysis: Part 2

Here is Remus, having his morning fluids in the sun, while April looks on.

Three weeks in, Remus's sense of humor is failing him. He is naturally an energentic dog, fond of scuffling with his sister and rolling on the sofa, making strange growling noises, and this ilness is taking its toll on him.

He is effectively paralyzed from the ears back, unable to walk, move his paws, wag his tail, or move when he is uncomfortable. Yet my vet insists he has a good chance of recovery, so we keep trying. Good nursing care is essential here, and I am lucky that I work from home, so I am able to give him the care he needs. I'm also very stubborn, and refuse to give up or quit, and this helps, too.

I carry him outside multiple times a day, to go potty, to lay in the sun, to watch the birds and the cats and the goats. I lay him on the sofa where he normally sits in the evenings, to watch TV, and I prop him on the ottoman in the front window, where he can see the road and watch the world go by.

Morning and night he receives SubQ fluids with vitamin B complex, but his steroids have finished now. He is not able to chew dog kibble, so he's eating soft food, basically the same food that I cook for my highly-allergic-to-everything spaniel. He's enjoying this, and also liking scrambled eggs and fresh warm milk for added protein and probiotics.

His least favorite part of our daily routine is physical therapy; I'm not able to do as much as I'd like, due to work / farm / baby, but I do PT with him for a short time every day, moving his legs and neck to stretch out those muscles, and then he also does a session every day with a TENS machine that my vet loaned me.

He's a sorry dog, for sure. I've had people ask me why I'm putting him through this, whether I'm doing this for me or for him, why I can't "just do the right thing"; well, professional advice is that he stands a good chance of recovery. It will be slow, but the chance is there. And for as long as he remains under my care, I will give him that chance. I trust my veterinarian, who is also a close friend, and if the day comes when this is no longer the right thing to be doing, if the chance for recovery fades, then I trust that he will tell me. I will cross that bridge when I come to it. But for now, I shall carry him, feed him, water him and exercise him, because he is a much-loved member of our family, and he deserves the support he needs to recover.

His sister is terribly worried about him. She doesn't understand why he won't play with her, and she spends most of her day glued to his side, watching him with a concerned expression.

These pictures were taken approximately a week apart, and you can tell how, just in this short space of time, the muscles in his shoulders and back end have begun to atrophy. Even with the PT and TENS. This is going to be a long, long road for Remus Lupin.

I could be waiting 4-6 weeks to see improvement, apparently. However, I would tentatively like to say that, at three weeks, I see a little improvement in his ability to hold his head up. I have been supporting his head to enable him to eat and drink, but the last couple days he has been slightly more able to do this for himself. I'll take every scrap of improvement I can get right now! It's harder for me to see it, because it is so slight, and I can't see the wood for the trees, but my husband is able to detect it more clearly than I am, as I am his daily carer.

As for a full recovery? Some dogs never go back to the way they were. Others recover fully. I shall report back in due course, hopefully with good news. In the meantime, send all the positive vibes you can his way. I know he would gratefully accept them with tiny little husky licks.

Here's the medical info from PetMD but please, don't self-diagnose this. You need to see a veterinarian if you suspect your dog may be suffering from this, because there are other illnesses - far more severe and dangerous - which present similar symptoms, and will need to be ruled out.

Read part 1 here.