Tick Paralysis - Vets Choice

Tick paralysis

In some areas of Australia, the paralysis tick is a familiar foe to pet owners. Found along the east coast, paralysis ticks can cause a debilitating and often deadly paralysis in pets that encounter the parasites. Keep an eye out for the signs of tick paralysis and take steps to prevent ticks on your pet.

Tick preventatives

There are numerous options for tick prevention. Pets in at-risk areas on the east coast should have tick prevention year-round. Prevention options include 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 vet for recommendations on tick prevention and pick the product that best suits your budget and lifestyle.

It’s important to continue checking your cat and dog 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 prevention options year-round, knowing the signs of tick paralysis and checking your pet daily for ticks, you can keep your pet safe.

Symptoms of tick paralysis

Common symptoms include loss of voice or a changed bark or meow, lack of coordination 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 after the tick attaches itself 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 vet immediately. Much like snake anti-venom, there is an anti-tick serum which vets will use to counteract the effect of the toxin in your pet. Additionally, vets 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 prevention option now on the market, making tick paralysis effectively a preventable disease.