On Sunday of last week I noticed Bailey acted a little stiff in the hips. She had some trouble squatting to pee. Her breed is known for hip dysplasia, but we didn't think it would strike instantly and at only eight years old. By Monday I went to let her out and she couldn't stand up; her legs were scrambling for purchase on the slippery tile so I hefted her up but she wouldn't go outside. At lunch Ed carried her out to pee and she flopped down on her belly. Her legs wouldn't support her. She didn't eat or drink anything on Monday or Tuesday, so we took her to the vet.
The vet was baffled as to what was going on. There were several things that it could be including tick paralysis, toxin ingestion, myasthenia gravis or botulism from eating a dead animal. They did some blood work and it came back fantastic. We left her overnight (and two subsequent nights) for IV fluids, steroid injection and antibiotics thinking that these things would help some of the possible causes. Bailey, however, only got worse. She's not completely paralyzed but she has no strength in her legs and can only lift her head, but not hold it up for any length of time.
On Thursday, Ed and I went to visit her and talk to the vet again. At this point we weren't sure what to do because we didn't have money for expensive testing and the next step would be referral to a neurologist. We said we couldn't afford that and we were going to give her one more day to improve and then make a decision. Our vet went above and beyond and called the neurologist and did an exam over the phone with her. Together they came up with the diagnosis of coonhound paralysis (the real name is polyridiculoneuritis), which is a disease that half the time seems to come from contact with a raccoon and half the time is idiopathic, or they just don't know what causes it. The good news is she can fully recover. The bad news is, it could take up to four months.
At this point we had to decide if we could take on her care at home with two babies. She can't go outside to use the bathroom, so we would be cleaning up her mess. We would have to make sure she could eat and drink enough, possibly having to hand feed her.
She's been such a good (if high maintenance) dog, so we decided to bring her home and try to care for her. We had her shaved for easier cleaning. We have her on a thick pile of blankets and bedding which is covered with a waterproof tablecloth and over that we put towels and a potty training pad. We have to turn her several times a day and offer her food and water multiple times as well, not to mention clean her. Poor Bailey. I just know she's so confused.
A big thanks to the staff at Forest Oaks Animal Hospital. They were really great throughout all of this!