Last Minute Discovery Saves a Dogs Life

A visiting medical student helps diagnose a rare tick related disease.
By JoAnna Lou, June 2016, Updated June 2021
Last month Joelle Meteney noticed her Sheltie, Ollie, was lethargic following a trip to the Umpqua River in Oregon. Their veterinarian ran a range of tests, but couldn't figure out what was wrong.

Joelle was puzzled because on one hand Ollie didn't seem sick. The ten year old pup still had a sparkle in his eye and was responsive. However, he couldn't really move. A week later, it got to the point where Ollie was almost completely paralyzed and unable to eat or go to the bathroom.

When veterinarians told the Meteneys that there was no sign of recovery, they decided to have Ollie euthanized at DoveLewis emergency animal hospital. That's when things took an interesting twist.

Visiting medical student, Neena Golden, was assigned to assist Dr. Adam Stone on the procedure. While comforting Ollie, Neena felt a strange lump behind Ollie's ear, which turned out to be a tick. Ollie wore a tick collar on his vacation, but this bug managed to attach itself anyway, and was hidden by Ollie's fur. The tick was very bloated and had been attached for some time.

Dr. Stone then diagnosed Ollie with tick paralysis, a very rare condition that he had learned about in vet school, but had never seen in practice. The saliva secreted by the tick slowly got into Ollie's system, affecting his neurological system and causing paralysis. Fortunately this scary malady is completely curable.


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The hospital staff removed the tick and just ten hours later, Ollie was already walking again. It was a miracle, especially because of the last minute diagnosis.

I'm so glad this story had a happy ending. It highlights just how dangerous these little bugs can be and how important it is to protect your dogs from ticks. Check out our previous blog post for more information on these pesky creatures!


 Image: Shutterstock