Ollie, the Sheltie Saved by Vet Student from Tick Paralysis

If you plan to take your dog in any areas with high grass this summer, be sure you take precautions against ticks!  Ollie, a sheltie, was close to being euthanized, but a quick-thinking vet student saved the dog from being put to sleep AND provided an unknown diagnosis. 10-year-old Ollie had been camping with his owner, Al, in April, but after returning home to Portland, Oregon, the dog wasn’t himself, displaying symptoms of weakness and lethargia. He was having trouble eating and eventually had to be hand-fed. He became fully-paralyzed, and multiple vet visits weren’t pinpointing the problem. His owners, upset at seeing the dog so miserable, had made plans to euthanize him.

“When his mobility was shot and he was paralyzed, it was just weird seeing him laying there on the floor, knowing he had so much more life him,” said his owners, speaking to local news channel KPTV.

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Neena Golden was a visiting veterinary student at DoveLewis Animal Hospital in Portland and was tending to the pup. She stroked his ears to comfort him, and in the process, found a supscious lump behind one ear. The lump was a tick that he embedded itself into Ollie’s fur, likely while he and his owners were camping.

The tick was causing tick paralysis, a rare condition that few dog owners would recognize. The saliva of certain types of ticks can infect the dog and its neurological system, causing Ollie’s symptoms. Once Neena found the tick in the dog’s fur, Dr. Adam Stone removed the parasite, revealing it was bloated with Ollie’s blood.

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“It had obviously been there for a while,” said Dr. Stone in a blog post about the discovery.

Luckily, Dr. Stone remembered learning about tick paralysis in vet school and told the owners he believed Ollie may be suffering from the disease. After shaving the dog’s fur to search for any remaining ticks, he sent Ollie home, wishing the best for him. The diagnosis was correct, as only 10 hours later, the owners called and reported that Ollie was up and about, and asking to go outside – something he had previously been unable to do. The doctors were surprised by the call, considering they thought it was going to take up to three days for Ollie to heal.

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The owners report that Ollie is back to his old self, just as active as he was before the camping trip. While Ollie did wear a tick collar on the trip, it seems the tick was able to evade the effects of the collar, and lodged itself in his fur. Now Ollie’s owners say they’ll use a tick prevention solution next time they take him out on a long trip to the great outdoors. This story is a warning lesson to anyone ticks. If you’re outside for a duration, and especially in wooded areas, be sure to check your dog thoroughly for ticks, even if you’ve put a tick collar on them, because you can never be sure it will work.

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