Nerve "impulses" are the signals our brain sends down the spinal cord and down the nerve pathways from the spinal cord to our internal organs and limbs causing muscle groups to tighten up or relax.
It's an incredible system with millions of impulses affecting millions of cells in different parts of the body all going on at once in a highly organized (usually) manner.
But things can go wrong.
Things that can cause a slow down, partial blockage, complete blockage, or erratic behavior of these impulses include:
tick transmitted diseases,
minor injuries like pulled back muscles,
major injuries like car accidents and gunshots,
alcohol and drugs,
and chemical and electrolyte imbalances caused by other diseases such as kidney or liver disease or anemia.
And a bunch of toxins, nerve agents, pesticides, and poisons and venoms and mushrooms and toads and inhalant fumes.
It's all pretty interesting.
At any rate, some of the things that can cause havoc with the nervous system cause twitching and jerking. Some cause seizures. Some cause extreme GI disturbances, foaming at the mouth, vomiting, and diarrhea. All of these problems are discussed on other pages.
But sometimes the main problem is the inability to support or move one or more part of the body (paralysis) or the reduced ability to support or move (paresis) and those diseases are discussed on this page.
If you're reading this page because your pet is suffering from paralysis, I hope it gets better soon.
Coonhound Paralysis by Roger Ross DVM
The real name of this disease is a tongue twister; Polyradiculoneuritis, and it's very similar or is the same disease as Guillain-Barre Syndrome in humans. I'm not sure if humans get the disease in the same way as dogs, but in dogs, (usually coon dogs) the symptoms show up about 1-2 weeks after a bite or scratch from a raccoon.
Signs include weakness and different degrees of paralysis.
We think that the disease is an auto-immune reaction in which the spinal roots and nerves are inflamed, but fortunately, most patients recover if given several weeks of supportive, antibiotic, and anti-inflammatory care.
It's easy to mistake this disease for less serious tick paralysis, but in our hospital at least, it doesn't matter too much...we treat them the same way.
Tick Paralysis By Roger Ross, DVM
We see 10 or so cases a year at our clinic, so a fairly common problem.
coming soon...more info, but similar signs to coonhound paralysis. Different cause. But similar treatment.
Also coming soon:
Dealing with paralysis in general, paralysis due to stroke, other diseases, and tumors.