We’ve recently seen an increase in paralysis tick cases in the clinic.
Tick paralysis is one of the most common preventable causes of death in pets along the East Coast of Australia. Although ticks can be found year-round, they’re most common from August to April. Read on to learn how to keep your pet tick-free this summer.
Did you know that the paralysis tick is only found in the humid East Coast of Australia? Paralysis ticks release a toxin that can lead to limb paralysis, respiratory paralysis, and even death.
Native animals such as possums and bandicoots host ticks and our pets can be affected without even leaving the backyard. Regular checking isn’t enough on its own. You must take the necessary prevention steps.
Although there are a number of tick treatments on the market, we don’t recommend flea baths, flea powders, or supermarket brand products as they are not always effective and are often old or outdated.
Keeping your pet tick-free
There are a few key rules to follow to protect your pet from paralysis ticks.
- Don’t take your pet walking in bush or scrub areas that may be home to ticks – stick to footpaths or well-mown areas.
- Keep your lawn at home mowed and keep shrubs and trees short.
- Search your pet for ticks daily. Run your fingers through your pet’s coat and feel for any lumps (these may be ticks). Search your entire pet but pay close attention to the legs, face, neck, and ears.
- Treat your pet with tick prevention products. For dogs, we recommend the Bravecto chew or top spot, or the Simparica or Seresto collar. For cats, we recommend the Bravecto or Revolution Plus top spot.
Paralysis tick warning signs
When dealing with tick paralysis, it’s important to know what to look for so you can take action as soon as possible.
- Hindlimb incoordination and weakness
- Breathing problems
- Regurgitation or vomiting
- Rapid heartbeat
- Abnormal or lost voice
- Gagging, grunting or coughing
- Difficulty swallowing food or water
Airway constriction in cats may be misdiagnosed as asthma as the signs are quite similar. If your cat is wheezing or having trouble breathing, it is important to check if this is paralysis tick-related.
Although you can remove ticks from your pet yourself, we recommend you visit us to give your animal the best chance of recovery. After we remove the tick and address any side effects, we keep your pet stress free by allowing them to recover in a dark, quiet room.
When you visit us, we will also inform you of the tick prevention methods that we recommend. You can book a tick removal appointment using our online booking portal
Once you take your pet home, avoid excitement and excessive exercise for at least two weeks, so they have time to recover. You will need to feed them smaller meals and monitor their drinking to check that their swallowing is back to normal. Monitor your pet’s behaviour and appearance to ensure that they return to normal; paralysis tick poison permanently binds to nerve receptors and the antiserum used may take a while to remove all the poison.