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Tue., April 2, 2013, 6:47 a.m.

Tick paralysis cause of mysterious dog illness

FILE - A June 8, 2010 photo shows a wood tick - or dog tick - clinging to a pencil used for scale, in Springfield, Ill.  Hantavirus, West Nile, Lyme disease and now, bubonic plague. The bugs of late summer are biting, although the risk of getting many of these scary-sounding diseases is very small. Lyme Disease is spread through ticks, the symptoms are fever, headache, fatigue and a bulls-eye rash. (Chris Young / The State Journal-register)
FILE - A June 8, 2010 photo shows a wood tick - or dog tick - clinging to a pencil used for scale, in Springfield, Ill. Hantavirus, West Nile, Lyme disease and now, bubonic plague. The bugs of late summer are biting, although the risk of getting many of these scary-sounding diseases is very small. Lyme Disease is spread through ticks, the symptoms are fever, headache, fatigue and a bulls-eye rash. (Chris Young / The State Journal-register)

ANIMALS -- A dog that walks like it's drunk, or starts loosing control of its legs, or unable to get up could have a number of ailments.  But one thing you should check for immediately is tick paralysis. 

The cure if caught early is as simple as removing the problem-causing tick.

Here's a case in point from Mary Franzel of North Idaho who encountered the problem over the weekend with her dog, Zip:

To my dog owner friends: Yesterday Zip got "Tick Paralysis." It's a toxin that some ticks have that causes progressive paralysis. It started by her not being able to stand up on her hind legs to look out the window. It progressed to her barely being able to use her back legs.

Thank heavens Celeste Boatwright Grace happened to be over for a hike. After ruling out an injury, she thought of this tick borne disease. We found 4 ticks & after a bath I found one more. If the tick is removed soon enough it reverses & the dog usually returns to normal. It can be fatal if the tick remains attached & the dog ends up going into respiratory distress. It's most common in the Rocky Mountains & the Pacific Northwest.

Ponderay Vet has already seen 1 case last week. It is rare, but from now on I'm treating all my dogs with topical tick medication.  A heads up - you may want to treat your dogs!

I tried to post a video of Zip stumbling but my speedy internet connection wouldn't let me. She is very tired today but seems to be walking fine. :-)




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Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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