Many vets are preparing for what could possibly be one of the worst seasons yet for paralysis ticks. Learning how to spot the signs and symptoms of tick paralysis could save your dog’s life, read on to find out more about why you need to be vigilant to protect your dog from these extremely dangerous blood-sucking parasites.
How can something so small be so deadly?
Not only is the paralysis tick (Ixodes holocyclus) one of the most common on the eastern sea board, it's also one of the most dangerous threats to your dogs health. Paralysis ticks can lead to an animal needing to be ventilated and sadly many victims of these ticks do not recover. Paralysis ticks are external parasites that suck the blood from the host animal and it's the ticks salivary glands that produce the toxin that affects the nervous system of the host. Once paralysis occurs the animal is likely to die in a number of hours unless it is quickly treated by your vet with anti-tick serum. After initial treatment it can still take 48 hours for the toxin to be removed so your dog can continue to deteriorate during this time.
How to spot the signs of tick poisoning
If your dog has come in contact with a paralysis tick they will experience paralysis in a variety of forms. A typical case will start with a weakness in the hindquarters that will then progress to total paralysis of all four legs. Other early symptoms may include the following:
- ‘Wobbly’ in the back legs or unsteady on their feet
- Change in tone of your dogs bark
- Loss of appetite
- Vomiting or dry retching
- Excessive salivation
- Difficulty swallowing
- Noisy panting
Where are paralysis ticks found?
Ticks need humidity and mild weather to develop and aren't able to survive in cold climates. They are most commonly found along the east coast of Australia during the warmer months, but can be found inland in suitable habitats and in northern parts of the country all-year-round.
Find out more about paralysis ticks, by watching our video.
How can I prevent my dog coming into contact with them?
If your dog likes to spend time outdoors, there's no way to prevent them from coming incontact with ticks. There are many paralysis tick preventative products on the market including spot-ons, sprays and tick collars that can be used to help protect your dog from ticks, however even with regular use these do not provide 100% protection. The best way to protect your dog is to physically check them daily. Remember never to use a dog tick product on a cat as this can potentially be fatal.
How do I check for ticks?
The best way to check for ticks is by doing a daily tick inspection on your dog. Start with their head and remember that you're more likely to feel the tick than see it, so make sure you use your hands. Check inside your dog's ears, under their chin and around their throat. Move down the front legs and check in between their toes. Feel along their body making sure to check their belly, and then check down their back legs and in between their toes. Inspect your dog's genital region as ticks can sometimes be found there and finish with their tail.
About the Purina PetCare Advice Centre
The Purina PetCare Advice Centre brings together a team with in-depth knowledge, experience and special interests with the skills to advise about health and nutrition, behaviour, training, socialisation, as well as basic first aid for your cat or dog. Our team of dedicated pet lovers can also provide information about Purina products and services to help you give your pet the best possible care. If you've got a question about any aspect of pet care, then ask the Purina PetCare Advice team.