The paralysis tick – Ixodes holocyclus – is a tiny creature that can have a big impact on any warm-blooded animal. They live in bushland and attach themselves to their host and suck its blood. The blood sucking itself isn’t the problem, the tick’s salivary glands produce a toxin that affects the host’s nervous system and causes paralysis.
Any creature running around outdoors can pick up a tick, but dogs and cats are particularly susceptible because they come into contact with the tick’s environment.
Symptoms of Tick Poisoning
It only takes a couple of days once the tick has attached itself to your pet before you’ll start to see symptoms. Your pet might start to lose mobility in the rear legs and become unsteady, which soon progresses to the front legs. Other symptoms include loss of appetite, panting, coughing, weakness and loss of coordination, breathing difficulties and the bark or meow sounding strange.
Checking your Pet for Ticks
Ticks tend to attach to the front of your pet as they’re walking through the grass and bushes, but it’s important to check your pet all over. If you live in a humid, bushy or coastal area, you must check your pet daily for ticks. The best way is run your fingers through your pet’s fur to feel for lumps, and go over the entire body – your pet will get used to it and even get some relief out of it.
Ticks will attach anywhere they can, so check lips, ears, nose, between toes, armpits and genital areas. If you find a lump, separate the fur, and if it’s a tick, remove it using a tick hook or tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible. Keep checking your pet; where there’s one tick, there could be more.
Treatment of Tick Paralysis
Tick paralysis is progressive, and your pet can still be affected even after you’ve removed the tick, so see your vet for advice and treatment. Your pet will be administered with tick anti-serum and put on an intravenous drip to keep them hydrated.
Fast action and prompt treatment could see your pet back home within a couple of days, but the longer you wait, the less chance of recovery. Without treatment at all, your pet could die, so see your vet immediately.
How to Prevent Tick Poisoning
There are preventative medications available for pets such as collars and sprays, but they don’t work 100% of the time. The best prevention is to check your pet daily and feel for ticks. You’ll soon get better at it, and the first time you find one, you’ll know it’s worth the effort.
Rockingham Animal Hospital
Your pet’s health and comfort are our top priority, so if you live in an area where ticks are prevalent, or you’ve recently been in one and your pet is showing signs of tick paralysis, don’t hesitate. Take them straight to Port Kennedy Vets, your local vet clinic.
Call 08 9524 6644 or contact us online for any enquiries or health concerns regarding your pet. Our wellness programs make pet care easier, and with affordable monthly payments, they’re an investment in the health and wellbeing of your beloved pet.