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Coal is a 12 month old Patterdale Terrier who first came in to see us at the end of June this year when he was starting to struggle using his legs. Initially we ran all the routine tests for certain parasitic diseases that can cause issues and he had thorough neurological examinations and radiographs (x-rays). All of these came back normal – which ruled out a lot of things but didn’t give us a diagnosis.
In such a young dog we felt that the likely diagnosis was polyradiculoneuritis. This is a bizarre condition which affects the nerves of young dogs. Although it is not treatable, the usual course of the disease is that the dog gradually deteriorates, then the condition plateaus and then gradually reverses by itself. Over the next few weeks poor little Coal became totally paralysed. Each day he was progressively worse until a point where he couldn’t move at all. It was very sad for all staff and owners to see such a young dog so terribly poorly. He needed constant nursing care as although he still had his appetite, he was not able to eat by himself and of course couldn’t get up to go to the toilet either. Because he couldn’t sit up there was a chance that, without careful supervision, he could inhale and choke on his food instead of swallowing it. We needed to make sure that he didn’t develop any secondary problems associated with lying in the same position for a long time, such as skin sores or problems with his lungs. The greatest risk was that the disease can progress to affect the muscles which support his breathing. As long as this didn’t happen, however, his prognosis was still good.
We knew that while Coal was unable to move by himself he would lose all his muscle. Our qualified in-house Physiotherapist, Sarah, worked really hard with Coal to keep his muscles working.
This meant that when, after nearly 4 weeks, he began to turn a corner, he could start to move. Once he got going, he came on by leaps and bounds – almost literally. Within a further 2 weeks, he was well enough to go home. Look at him go!