Pet Care

Paralysis Ticks

By Morgan | August 6, 2019

As a tiny creature that all pet owners should be aware of, the paralysis tick is not a parasite to be ignored. Found in bushy areas along Australia’s eastern seaboard, paralysis ticks are a fatal threat to your pet’s health if left untreated. Measuring no more than only a few millimetres in length, this little critter can cause death in just a matter of days.

With the repercussions of tick paralysis being so dire and climatic changes expanding its habitat from the far north of Queensland to the metropolitan areas of Melbourne, the importance for all pet owners to remain vigilant has never been greater.

Paralysis ticks prefer a humid climate and are most commonly found in low lying plants and bushes where they will wait for a passing host. While they are most active from spring to autumn, they also remain active throughout the colder months as well. They are easily picked up by your pet from playing or running through low lying flora and will secure themselves anywhere on your pet by burrowing their mouth-parts into the skin of your pet, where they will begin to feed.

Ticks feed on the blood of their host and in the process will continuously inject a small amount of saliva into your pet’s bloodstream in the process. This saliva contains a non-coagulant to stop your pet’s blood clotting as well as a toxin that causes the connection between the nerves and the muscles to become disrupted which leads to paralysis. However, the effects of this toxin don’t just interfere with the muscles that move their legs but also the muscles that control their breathing and their heart, which leads to a life-threatening situation.

So, what are the symptoms to watch out for? We’ve listed them below so you never miss the worrying signs of tick paralysis.

  • Vomiting/retching
  • Weakness
  • Change of bark or meow
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Incoordination
  • Collapse

To ensure that your pet remains safe from the effects of tick paralysis, we recommend the following:

  1. Keep your pet’s coat trimmed, especially during tick season
  2. Use a tick prevention product such as NexGard Spectra or Frontline Plus to assist with stopping ticks from attaching themselves.
  3. Complete daily tick checks by running your hands all over their bodies, from the lips and snout to their tails. Be sure to check in their ears, between their toes and in their armpits.

Should you find a tick on your pet, use a tick remover to detach it. Remember to steer clear of applying alcohol or other substances to the tick and ensure that you monitor your pet closely afterwards, as the effects of a tick can continue for days afterwards and your pet can continue to deteriorate.

At Vets on Call, we believe that prevention is always the best solution.If you live in any regions where paralysis ticks are present, then be sure to speak to one of our vets about prevention.If you notice any of the symptoms mentioned above or notice a tick attached to your pet,make sure you contact one of our vets immediately.

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