It’s that time of year again when tick numbers surge and we see more and more cats and dogs come through the clinic with life threatening conditions.
Paralysis ticks are found all along the east coast of Australia and every pet that goes outside is at risk of one of these dangerous pests latching on. After they attach themselves to the skin and feed on blood, they inject a toxin that affects the pet’s nervous system, causing paralysis and death if not treated in time.
What are the signs of paralysis tick poisoning?
- A slight wobbliness of the hindquarters which worsens to paralysis and inability to stand.
- A change in the sound of bark or meow;
- Vomiting and/or gagging or refusing food
- Difficulty breathing (slow and laboured, often with a grunting noise on expiration).
You need to contact your vet immediately if your pet shows any of these signs.
Vigilance can be the difference between life and death.
The earlier your pet is brought in to see the vet, the better their chances of survival are as well as minimising the period of time your pet may need to be hospitalised.
If you find a tick on your pet it is best to remove it as soon as possible to reduce the exposure of toxin which may be injected. To do this, in the absence of tick removers (which can be bought at our clinic), a fork like instrument should be placed between the tick and the skin which will make it easy to remove.
Although it’s a common myth, please DO NOT use metho, turps, kero or anything else to kill/poison the tick on your pet.
We also recommend bringing the tick with you for verification.
If a tick is found on your pet but they don’t have any of the clinical signs we still recommend bringing them in just to be safe.
Clinical signs of poisoning usually appear 3 to10 days after attachment of paralysis tick. This means that the tick may have already fallen off before your pet shows symptoms and may explain why you can’t find one on their body.
Apart from potential death if left untreated there are a range of other disorders that may develop due to the paralysis including: pneumonia, cardiac arrhythmia, dehydration and urinary incontinence.
Prevention is the best cure.
There are a number of options to help protect your pet from ticks
- Bravecto – 1 flavoured chew which lasts 3 months
- Nexgard – 1 flavoured chew which lasts 1 month
- Spot on:
- Advantix – spot on lasting 2 weeks for paraylysis tick
- Killtix – Lasting 6 weeks
- Flea/tick shampoos – 0-3 days depending on brand/concentration (note though that some aren’t registered to treat paralysis tick)
- Flea/tick spray:
- Fronteira – Up to 3 weeks .
If you suspect that you pet has encountered a paralysis tick please do not hesitate to call us!