I’ve seen some extraordinary things in my time working for Animal Emergency Service (AES). They employed me late 2009 and since then I’ve seen some crazy stuff that included watching my first fur-child fight through his battle with cancer.
What has and continues to frighten me despite what I’ve witnessed is the Paralysis Tick. I’ve seen pets walk through the doors minimally affected and walk out again. I’ve seen other walk through minimally affected who needed life support within hours. I’ve also seen others walk through the doors as normal without a sign of infection and they haven’t walked back out those doors with their owners again.
While tick season is perceived to be seasonal, in reality emergency vets in SEQld see them present all year. What is clear is that the months where winter starts to warm in Queensland is when these critters come out of slumber.
I’ve had the opportunity to work closely with an Australian leading expert in tick paralysis since I commenced my career at AES. Dr Rob Webster is a Fellow in Emergency and Critical Care Veterinary Medicine with a keen interest in the treatment of Tick Paralysis. I’ve worked with him in writing articles about this ailment over the years and these are the facts:
Signs of tick paralysis in pets
Changes in vocal noise, wobbly legs, difficulty standing, no want for food or water, heavy breathing, and I’m not kidding – finding a paralysis tick.
What to do if you find a paralysis tick on your pet but they look normal
You’re not out of the woods. The venom causes paralysis in pets within minimal time on occasion and other times it takes a little longer to present. When paralysis occurs, it’s vital pets receive expert veterinary treatment to ensure their survival.
I’ve found a tick on my pet but I don’t know if it’s a paralysis tick
It is vital you seek emergency veterinary advice especially if you live in South East Queensland. The Sunshine Coast, Brisbane, Gold Coast and northern New South Wales are hotspots for paralysis ticks given the climate and conditions.
I can’t stress this enough, if your pet is wobbly on their legs, having trouble breathing, not wanting water or food and panting heavily, or you’ve found a tick – you need to seek veterinary help. Tick Paralysis takes affect differently amongst every pet and the one advice I can give is that the earlier treatment is received, the better the chance of recovery.
What is a Paralysis Tick?
Paralysis ticks are parasites that feed on animals. Their scientific name is Ixodes Holocyclusis. They feed on animals and are most active in South East Queensland. Pets who reside in areas where wildlife are active are most susceptible.
The paralysis tick lays up to 3000 eggs in one sitting and their offspring attach to vegetation until they find a breeding host preferably being human, wildlife, canine or feline. They feed on blood while injecting a deadly toxin.
The paralysis tick is a concern for pet owners in the region. While their toxin is harmful to wildlife, their impact on pets is notable and veterinarians have a range of tick prevention products available for purchase in response to this epidemic.
Treatment for Tick Paralysis in Pets
Tick Paralysis in pets can be reduced with products available on the market. Some products are monthly and others quarterly. The treatment for tick paralysis is a sophisticated science. They’ve evolved to be tasty chews containing active ingredients such as afoxolaner which has shown to be an active ingredient for dogs with cat variants currently in trial. Veterinary advice is recommended to ensure your pet has the most current and up-to-date treatment available.
How to avoid Tick Paralysis in Pets
Dr Rob Webster, Director and founder of Animal Emergency Service, shows how to search for ticks in this video…
If your pet is up-to-date with prevention, it’s still vital you conduct regular tick searches especially in warmer months. Take time to hang out with your pet on the couch while you watch Netflix and run your fingers through their fur. It’s a great opportunity for you and your pet to hang out and bond while look for hidden dangers.