PORTLAND, OR -- A DoveLewis Animal Hospital visiting vet student found a tick hidden behind a dog's ear moments before she and a veterinarian were charged with putting the dog to sleep over his undiagnosed ailment.
According to a news release from DoveLewis, the owners of 10-year-old Ollie the Sheltie noticed their dog was lethargic following a trip to eastern Oregon. They took the dog to the vet for a range of tests, but veterinarians couldn't figure out what was wrong with him. About a week after the trip, the dog was almost completely paralyzed and unable to eat or go to the bathroom on his own.
"We were at a complete loss," Al said. "What do you do in that situation? He is part of our family, and we've always tried to provide the best care we can for him."
His owners, Al and Joelle of SE Portland, decided to put Ollie down at DoveLewis.
Visiting veterinary student Neena Golden took a moment to comfort Ollie prior to putting him down alongside Dr. Adam Stone. At that point, she felt a something strange behind Ollie's ear that turned out to be a tick. Even though Ollie had worn a tick collar during his trip to eastern Oregon, the bug had managed to lodge itself in Ollie's fur and stick around for days.
"The tick was very bloated, and there was lots of fecal material from the tick. It had obviously been there for a while," Dr. Stone said.
Dr. Stone thought back to a rare condition he learned about in vet school - tick paralysis.
"I had never seen a tick paralysis case." In fact, this condition is so rare that only one other vet professional at DoveLewis had ever seen a tick paralysis case. The saliva secreted by the tick got into Ollie's system over a prolonged period of time, affecting his neurological system and causing paralysis. It's completely curable.
Hospital staff removed the tick and completely shaved Ollie to make sure no other creatures were hiding in his fur. That night, only about 10 hours later, Al was surprised to hear the clicking of Ollie's nails on their hardwood floor. Ollie was up, roaming the house, and ready to be let outside for a bathroom break.
"We were astounded by the quick turnaround," Al said.
"Thank God we were led to DoveLewis, and they saw the tick and remembered what they had learned years ago," Al said. "Ollie is looking better and better every day."
Ollie's quick recovery even surprised the staff at DoveLewis.
"We were thinking it would take closer to three days for him to heal, if it did turn out to be tick paralysis," Golden said. "When we got the call from his owners that Ollie was doing fine, we all high-fived each other. That might be the one tick paralysis case I experience in my career. It was exciting that we could help."
Today, Ollie is back to normal - lively, active and ready to embark on his next outdoor adventure.