In some areas of Australia, the paralysis tick is a familiar foe to pet owners. Found along the east coast of Australia, paralysis ticks can cause a debilitating and often deadly paralysis in pets that encounter these parasites. Keep an eye out for the signs of tick paralysis and take steps to prevent ticks on your pet.
There are numerous options for tick prevention in Australia. Pets in ‘at-risk’ areas on the east coast should have tick prevention year-round to avoid tick paralysis. Preventatives come in the form of spot-on treatments, chewable tablets that last between one and three months and collars that last between one and three months.
Although tick washes and sprays are available, these generally aren’t recommended as they don’t provide long-term prevention, and some can be deadly to cats. Ask your veterinarian for recommendations on tick preventatives and pick the product which best suits your budget and lifestyle.
It’s important to continue checking your dog and cat for ticks daily, as this is the best method to detect and remove any ticks promptly. Run your fingers through your pet’s coat from their head to their tail, paying attention to their ears, under their collar and between their toes, feeling for any lumps that might indicate a tick.
By using tick preventatives year-round, knowing the signs of tick paralysis and checking your pet daily for ticks, you can keep your pet safe from deadly tick paralysis.
Symptoms of tick paralysis
Common symptoms include loss of voice or a changed bark or meow, incoordination or unsteadiness on their feet, vomiting and regurgitation, weakness in the back legs, excessive drooling, hindlimb paralysis, complete loss of all muscle movement, and eventually coma and death.
It often takes three to four days from initial tick attachment before symptoms of tick paralysis are noticed by owners, however even once the tick is removed, symptoms can still take 12 to 24 hours to peak due to toxin levels in the blood.
Treatment for tick paralysis
Although prevention is better than cure, treatment for tick paralysis can often be effective if caught early. If you suspect your pet might be suffering from tick paralysis, or you find a tick on your pet, contact your veterinarian immediately. Much like snake anti-venom, there is an anti-tick serum which veterinarians will use to counteract the effect of the toxin on your pet. Additionally, veterinarians will provide intensive care to treat the symptoms of tick paralysis and prevent secondary conditions. Constant monitoring, eye lubrication, urinary catheters, feeding tubes and even respiratory ventilators can be used to support a pet recovering from tick paralysis.
Fortunately, there are many excellent tick preventatives now on the market, making tick paralysis effectively a preventable disease.