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Polyradiculoneuritis is a devastating condition. It is a disease of sudden onset which causes weakness or paralysis in all four legs. In the United States it can be secondary to a bite from a racoon (Coonhound paralysis).

In Australia it is usually from an unknown cause. Recent studies indicate a link to the ingestion of raw chicken. It may also be a rare complication of a post vaccine reaction.

It is similar to Guillain-Barré Syndrome in humans.


Polyradiculoneuritis is likely due to an autoimmune reaction where the body attacks the nervous system resulting in damage to nerves and myelin (the insulating sheath that covers nerves).


There is no specific test for Polyradiculoneuritis. It is suspected if there is sudden weakness or paralysis in all four legs. Other diseases which may cause similar signs must be ruled out eg tick paralysis, snake bite

Which breeds are affected

Any breed can be affected but Jack russell terriers and West Highland terrier show up slightly more commonly than other breeds.

Signs of Polyradiculoneuritis

It may start with a stilted gait. Weakness usually starts in the hind legs and moves to the front legs. This weakness usually progresses to full paralysis and peaks at about 14 days. Some dogs may also have further complications - a change in their bark, facial muscle paralysis, difficult swallowing and in the worst of cases - breathing difficulties. Many dogs may be overly sensitive to touch as their superficial sensation remains intact


There is no specific conventional that is considered effective. 

Nursing Care/ Home Care

These guys require a lot nursing care from owners. Feeding, watering, keeping clean from faeces and urine, assisting with urination and avoiding bed sores are all part of this process


Conservative treatments offered by Balance Vet Rehab that may be beneficial for these pets include:


There are no studies that support this as a therapy but anecdotally this modality may have shown benefit.

Home Exercise Program 

A simple home exercise program can help reduce muscle loss and ensure that as the disease resolves the dog can make a speedier recovery

Hydrotherapy with Underwater Treadmill   

This can be a helpful therapy if used at the appropriate stages of recovery.

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