This week news outlets all over the country reported about a Portland-area Shetland sheep dog named Ollie that was on the verge of being euthanized due to his failing health and paralysis. Fortunately, after a student veterinarian found and removed a tick behind his ear, the Ollie was fully mobile in about 10 hour after it was removed and is now fine.
I had never heard of a tick having the capability of paralyzing a dog, probably because tick paralysis is a somewhat rare condition.
But just a couple of days after Ollie’s story was in the news, tick paralysis struck a 4-year-old Yorkie in Spokane named Tucker.
“I noticed he wasn’t able to jump up the stairs and get into the house,” says Tucker’s owner Kim Rose told KHQ. “Then I noticed his back legs were not working at all. It was like he was paralyzed.”
Like Ollie, Tucker is fine now, but their stories should be a reminder to dog owners that they need to check their dogs for ticks whenever they’ve been out in heavily wooded or grassy areas where ticks thrive.
Here is a list of symptoms to watch for if you think your dog could have tick paralysis:
- High blood pressure
- Fast heart rate and rhythm (tachyarrhythmias)
- Weakness, especially in the hind limbs
- Partial loss of muscle movements (paresis)
- Complete loss of muscle movement (paralysis), commonly seen in advanced disease state
- Poor reflexes to complete loss of reflex
- Low muscle tone (hypotonia)
- Difficulty in eating
- Disorder of voice (dysphonia)
- Asphyxia due to respiratory muscle paralysis in severely affected animals
- Excessive drooling (sialosis)
- Megaesophagus (enlarged esophagus)
- Excessive dilatation of pupil in the eye (mydriasis)
If your dog exhibits these symptoms and you find a tick on it be sure you bring it to the vet so that it can be identified and its ability to transmit disease determined.