Spokane ticks could cause paralysis in pets

A warning for pet owners. It's tick season and while they are definitely a nuisance, they can be much more dangerous for your four-legged family members. An Oregon family is glad to still have their dog after a veterinarian nearly put it down because it was paralyzed.  The vet then found a tick behind the dog's ear that was sending toxins into the animal's blood. 

It happened to 4-year-old Tucker here Spokane.  He's a Yorkie and he's up and moving around now, but just days ago it was a much different story.   

"I noticed he wasn't able to jump up the stairs and get into the house," says Kim Rose.  "Then I noticed his back legs were not working at all.  It was like he was paralyzed."  Just a few hours later he couldn't move his legs at all.  Rose took him to the pet ER.  Tucker had tick paralysis.    

"It's caused by a toxin that's secreted through the salivary glands of the ticks," says Dr. Brian Hunter.   Dr. Hunter has been practicing veterinary medicine for 37 years and has only seen about five or six cases of tick paralysis, ever.    

"It can paralyze the diaphragm, the respiratory muscles, and so there is the risk of killing the dog," says Dr. Hunter.    

On the other hand, he says the dog will start to recover pretty quickly once the tick has been removed.   

To look for ticks you can just do a back and forth, massage-like motion all over your dog, feeling for little bumps.  "An immature tick or one that is just starting to attach is going to be maybe half of my little fingernails," says Dr. Hunter.  "Female ticks engorged with blood will be much bigger." 

Rose says she checked for ticks on Tucker and even gave him a bath the week before the paralysis began, but she must have missed it.  Now she's just thankful he's still alive. 

"Dogs are our kids and that's how we treat them and it was just a really awful feeling."

Dr. Hunter recommends using an anti-tick medicine to kill ticks.  You should also regularly check your pets during the warmer months. 

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