Polyneuropathy in Dogs

Overview of Canine Polyneuropathy

Polyneuropathies are a group of diseases that affect multiple nerves in any combination. In dogs, they may be inherited or acquired later in life.

Causes of Canine Polyneuropathy

Inherited Causes

Acquired Causes

Infectious Causes

Neospora canis, a protozoa

Metabolic Causes

Paraneoplastic Syndrome

Paraneoplastic syndrome is a collective term for disorders arising from metabolic effects of cancer on tissues remote from the tumor. Some of these include:

Toxic or Drug Causes


Coonhound paralysis, which is acute/sudden inflammation of multiple nerve roots caused by contact with an infected raccoon.

Predisposing Factors

Various breeds of dogs may be affected. Specific breeds are associated with specific inherited neuropathies. Coonhounds have a higher incidence than other breeds for acquired neuropathies, specifically, coonhound paralysis.

Inherited polyneuropathies generally begin by the age of 6 months, while acquired neuropathies, depending on the specific disorder, may be seen in all ages.

What to Watch For

Signs associated with inherited polyneuropathies are generally slow and progressive. Signs in dogs may include:

Signs associated with acquired polyneuropathies may progress rapidly or slowly, depending on the particular illness.

Diagnosis of Polyneuropathy in Dogs

Treatment of Polyneuropathy in Dogs

Home Care

Administer all medication and diet as directed by your veterinarian. If any change is noted in your dog’s condition, notify your veterinarian. In particular, if coughing or difficulty breathing is observed, contact your veterinarian at once, as this may signal aspiration pneumonia secondary to a malfunctioning esophagus.

Depending on the underlying cause, life long therapy may be necessary in these patients. It is important to realize that, although in some cases where an underlying disorder has been identified and treated, the associated polyneuropathy will resolve; in others, despite treatment, it may not.

Avoid breeding dogs with inherited or Neospora-associated disease. Avoid contact with raccoons for dogs with a previous history of coonhound paralysis.