Ten-year-old Ollie the Collie was minutes away from being put to sleep. His Portland, Oregon humans had taken Ollie to the vet after his health quickly deteriorated and he became partially paralyzed.
The vet did a battery of tests: blood work, urinalysis, X-rays. None of the tests showed a cause for what was happening. Home again, Ollie was lethargic and weak. He lost his appetite and would eat only if his pet parents hand fed him. When Ollie couldn’t walk any longer and seemed to be unaware and uninterested in anything around him, his humans reluctantly decided to put him to sleep and out of his misery.
Dr. Adam Stone from Dove Lewis Animal Hospital and vet student Neena Golden were preparing Ollie for his end-of-life care. Neena was comforting Ollie by scratching behind his ears. That’s when she felt a strange bump under his thick coat. It was a tick that probably attached to Ollie when he and his humans had gone camping in eastern Oregon.
Ollie had been wearing a tick collar but the little freeloader had hopped on and settled in anyway. The vet diagnosed Ollie with tick paralysis. The neurotoxin in the tick’s saliva had entered Ollie’s blood stream and caused the paralysis.
A Portland entomologist identified the tick as a specimen of the American dog tick or wood tick. It’s usually found in central and eastern North America (hello North Carolina).
The vet removed the tick. Within half a day, Ollie was up and walking around. He quickly recovered his mobility, appetite and his very worried family. Watch a video of Ollie from KPTV in Portland.
Summer is high-alert season for ticks. The Humane Society recommends checking regularly for the little buggers. Look and feel around the head, neck and ears. Toes, armpits and torso are also likely spots for ticks to attach.
Ticks are small but they grow in size as they feed on a dog. Here’s what the Humane Society recommends to remove a tick. Read complete instructions here.
Step 1: Get your gear
Pair of gloves
Clean pair of tweezers or a commercial tick remover
Step 2: Remove the tick
Wear gloves while removing the tick to avoid contact with your skin (ticks can transmit diseases to people, too).
If you’re using tweezers:
Grasp the tick as close to your dog’s skin as possible, but be gentle! Try not to pinch your dog’s skin.
Pull outward in a straight, steady motion, making sure that you’ve removed the entire tick, since anything left behind could lead to an infection.
If you’re using a tick remover:
Gently press the remover against your dog’s skin near the tick.
Slide the notch of the remover under the tick.
Continue sliding the remover until the tick is caught in the small end of the notch and is pulled free. (The tick will remain in the bowl of the remover.)
Step 3: Store the evidence
Drop the tick into a small container that contains isopropyl alcohol (the alcohol will quickly kill the tick), and mark the date on the container. If your dog begins displaying symptoms of a tick-borne illness, your veterinarian may want to identify or test the tick.
Step 4: Praise your patient
Clean your dog’s skin with antiseptic and make sure to clean your tweezers with isopropyl alcohol. Wash your hands, too! Then give your pup a treat for being a trooper.
Keep an eye on the area where the tick was to see if an infection surfaces. If the skin remains irritated or infected, make an appointment with your veterinarian.
Watch your dog for symptoms of tick-borne diseases. Some symptoms include arthritis or lameness that lasts for three to four days, reluctance to move, swollen joints, fever, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, loss of appetite and neurological problems.
Stay safe this summer and don’t get ticked off by ticks.