Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Death by Ticks: Julia's Story

This story takes place in Philippines. Life is different there. Don't be fast with judgement; it could happen here too.

It started with an owner asking for advice on removing ticks from her dog.

Apparently she's been trying for a while, testing various products and natural remedies. There was no photo of the dog but by the sound of it, there must have been quite a few ticks on the dog.

The best way to remove ticks is to actually manually get them off.

There are different ways of doing that; we like using the Tick Twister. (This is not a sponsored post, we truly love this tool which was originally recommended to us by our vet.)

There are bad ways of trying to remove ticks, such as burning them with a hot match or a cigarette or smothering them with stuff. Stressing the tick out only results in increasing of it regurgitating their pathogenic content.

Unfortunately, Julia was resisting any attempts to remove the ticks manually.

With the dog responding aggressively, the only solution I could recommend was taking her to a vet and having them removed under sedation. They needed to come off.

The owner tried some more stuff to get them to come off, including Frontline. The ticks remained on Julia and she started having loose stools. Then she stopped eating.

Finally, Julia was seen by a vet.

This was seven days after the original question was posted. Julia was full of infection, anemic and needing blood transfusion. Transfusion wasn't available and neither was the money to keep her hospitalized.

Julia passed the morning of the eighth day. Between the blood loss and the infection she had no more strength to fight.

I am not sharing this story for anybody to pass judgement.

I know what it's like to be broke. To have just enough money for bread and cream cheese to live on. Not to have any possessions to sell if money was needed.

Does it mean that poor people should have dogs? This question has been raised many times. Poor people might not have money but they still do have love to give. Life to a dog who otherwise might not have had one.

Should a poor person turn away from a homeless dog because they might not afford it when the dog gets sick?

Instead of judging, we should help. Help by education, help by lending a helping hand.

Meanwhile, for all of us, let's realize that ticks carry real danger.

A neighbor near by where we live now has seen a young moose die in his yard, covered with ticks. If there are enough of them, they are deadly.

And let's get our dogs used to handling, so if they get some they don't fight their removal. And let's all learn when we can try treating things at home and when veterinary intervention is needed.

Related articles:
Twist And Shout: No Dog Owner Should Be Without A Tick Twister
Lyme Is Lame (Pun Intended)
Gus' Missed Diagnosis
Lyme Disease: Treating Lab Results Versus Treating The Dog
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever: Clara's Story

Further reading:
10 Facts about Ticks
Does My Dog Have Ticks?
7 Facts About Deadly Tick-Borne Diseases
Tick-Borne Diseases and Your Pet

Do you have a story to share?

Your story can help others, maybe even save a life!

What were the first signs you noticed? How did you dog get diagnosed? What treatment did/didn't work for you? What was your experience with your vet(s)? How did you cope with the challenges?

Email me, I'll be happy to hear from you!


  1. Ugh, that is terrifying! We usually use tweezers if we don't get to the tick before it latches on, but it's always hard to make sure you don't squeeze it. Looks like I'm getting the tick twister. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Yes, the Tick Twister makes it much easier not to squeeze the body, because you slide it in right between the tick body and the skin.

  2. My dog got a tick and I only got half the tick out. It must have been the good half because it was healed shortly after that. I got very lucky! I fuss over my dogs because it can save their lives. Pet insurance for accidents is reasonable. Do you have a link for the tick twister?

    1. Yes, leaving the head behind can happen. The Tick Twister works very well.