Tick paralysis is a very serious condition that is caused by a small “bug” like parasite, Ixodes Holocyclus, commonly known as the paralysis tick. It is quite prevalent in South East Queensland from late spring to early summer (usually September – March) but can easily stretch from August to April depending on weather/environmental conditions.
Signs of tick paralysis
There are many signs that your pet may be suffering from tick paralysis. No case is the same and some patients deteriorate quickly whilst others show a more prolonged progress.
The following symptoms should be monitored and attended to by a vet:
- Weak or collapsing in the hindquarters – not co-ordinated
- Not able to or reluctant to stand
- A change in vocalisation – not able to bark or meow.
- A change in breathing pattern (panting or strained) – may be subtle
- Strange noises heard while breathing
- Salivating(drooling) unable to swallow
- Mucous present in mouth & throat
- Coughing, retching, vomiting
- Increased breathing effort – difficulty breathing
- Collapsed, unable to move, respiratory paralysis, heart failure, and aspiration pneumonia.
Treatment – What is involved?
After a consultation with your vet, if toxicity is involved the patient will be admitted for hospitalisation and treatment. Medication & sedatives will need to be administered to assist the body in processing the antiserum. Once patients have been assessed as having tick paralysis, a very slow intravenous antiserum dose will be given.
Patients need to be rested & closely monitored during this process. In severe cases, management of the respiratory & cardiac systems may be required, and even ventilation. Often patients with airway difficulties need antibiotic and oxygen therapy.
What do I do if I find a tick?
- Remove the tick/s as soon as possible
- DO NOT give food or water
- With minimal stress transport to the vet immediately
- Bring the tick in a jar for identification
- Remember if you pull off one there is a high possibility there will be more
- Be cautious – even if the dog or cat is showing no signs – THEY CAN STILL DEVELOP TICK PARALYSIS.
Each year many animals become victims and in some severe cases, die, due to tick paralysis. Either very young or geriatric patients are most at risk. It can be unpredictable in nature and it is always best to seek veterinary advice.
No commercial prevention available is guaranteed to 100% kill or repel ticks; however, there are a number of steps you can take to prevent paralysis.
A tick preventative should be used on your pet if they do go outside at any point or if you are in a tick-prone area to be on the safe side. Some options are:
- Bravecto chew/spot on
- Nexgard/Nexgard Spectra chew
- Advantix top spot
- Full coat clip for summer
- Fidos free itch rinse
We recommend both Nexguard Spectra and Bravecto to our clients, as they have a very low risk of producing side effects and are proven to be the best preventatives on the market for preventing paralysis from tick toxin in pets. Bravecto is now available for cats who like to go outside.
If you think your pet could be suffering from tick paralysis, we encourage you to contact us for a consultation as soon as possible.