Several inflammatory conditions, either resulting from injuries or auto immune diseases may involve the peripheral nerves.
Acquired myasthenia gravis In Dogs
This is a neuromuscular disorder caused by faulty neurotransmitters that carry out the communication between the nerves and the muscles. Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds and Golden retrievers are a few of the breeds that are usually affected by myasthenia gravis. It usually appears in adult dogs, the symptoms starting with stiffness on exercising. Weakness and tremors are the other symptoms, but the weakness usually improves once the dog rests. Weakening of the muscles of the throat and the face usually results in difficulty in swallowing food. The dog may regurgitate the food soon after ingesting it. The condition may be complicated by the development of pneumonia, a common occurrence in dogs affected by this disease.
The disorder can be diagnosed by a blood test, and successfully treated with drugs, but long-term treatment is often necessary. Most dogs recover completely, unless there are complications.
Acute idiopathic polyradiculoneuritis In Dogs
This disorder is characterized by peripheral nerves inflammation. The bite of raccoons, as well as their scratch, is implicated as the reason for this paralytic condition, because the symptoms usually appear one or two weeks after such incidents. This has earned it the common name Coonhound paralysis. However, dogs that are never exposed to raccoons are also known to develop this disorder. A disorder similar to this has been found to occur as a post-vaccination complication which typically appears one to two weeks after the administration of the vaccines.
The symptoms begin to appear as a weakness of the hind limbs, but it can rapidly progress, resulting in the paralysis of all the limbs within a period of one or two days. The weakness may spread to the dog’s face and throat too. In some cases, the weakness may first appear in the forelimbs. Muscle wasting is another symptom that usually becomes severe in a fortnight. However, bowel function and bladder control are not affected. The dog retains the capacity to sense pain too.
No treatments are available, but with good nursing care the dog’s condition may improve considerably in about 3 weeks after the onset of paralysis. It may recover completely in about 2 months, but sometimes it may take up to 6 months too.
Not all dogs recover from acute idiopathic polyradiculoneuritis, the prognosis being especially poor for dogs that have severe symptoms. Death is usually due to respiratory paralysis. The disease condition can recur too, especially in dogs that are more frequently exposed to raccoons.
Trigeminal neuritis In Dogs
The trigeminal nerve that controls the jaw movements gets affected by this inflammatory condition that results in the paralysis of the dog’s jaws. The dog finds it difficult to eat and drink as it is unable to close its mouth. The symptoms appear suddenly, and the paralysis may partially affect the rest of the face too. The dog usually has lack of sensation in the face. It is not known why this disorder develops, but the dog’s condition improves in 3-4 weeks, often getting resolved completely. Intravenous administration of fluids and supplemental nutrition may be necessary during the recovery period.