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Paralysis Ticks Warning

Warning all pet owners – tick season has started.  Typically the tick season runs from late August through to February, reaching its peak between October and December. Paralysis ticks, deadly parasites native to Australia, have been found to increase significantly in numbers following rain after an extended dry period. Unfortunately, Australia’s mild winter combined with warming temperatures as the rainy season begins means 2015 is set to be another high tick year.

Why your Pet is at Risk

Australia is home to a variety of ticks, including cattle and bush ticks; however the paralysis tick causes animals the most serious problems. Theses parasites are native to Australia; so many native species have some immunity to the tick’s poison. However, introduced species like dogs, cats, horses, cattle and sheep are extremely susceptible to its poison - which is usually fatal. Ticks are found in or near bush or scrubland and are a major problem for pets, especially along the eastern coast of Australia. There is no product available which offers your pet 100% protection from ticks, so paralysis ticks pose a serious threat to your pet’s life.

Tick Prevention

Tick prevention is the key to saving your pet from the dangers of the paralysis tick:

  • Avoid letting your pet roam in or near tick habitat areas, as much as possible.
  • Conduct daily skin checks by running your hands over your pet’s body, feeling for bumps. If you feel a bump, part the fur to check for the presence of a tick. Ticks may vary in size but are dark brown or black in colour. Make sure you pay particular attention to your pet’s head and neck areas. Don’t forget to check skin folds, inside the ears and between the toes.
  • Dr Mark recommends that pet owners should use a combination of tick prevention products for the best possible protection: Dog owners should use a combination of products such as Frontline Spray, Frontline Plus or Advantix applied every 2 weeks and a tick collar such as the Preventic Collar or Kiltix Collar.  Alternatively, this year see's the arrival of two new tick prevention products on the market; NexGard and Bravecto.  Both are tasty chewable tick and flea control products differing only in lenght of effectiveness.  NexGard must be administered every month for effective protection against ticks whilst just one Bravecto chew protects your dog for four months against the deadly paralysis tick.
  • Cat owners should use Frontline Spray every 3 weeks. For those cats that won’t be sprayed, at VetShopAustralia we suggest using Frontline Plus for Cats. While this product does not claim to prevent ticks in cats, at VetShopAustralia we have found it appears to work quite well when applied every 14 days.
  • Some tick preventative products have difficulty spreading through thick or matted coats, where ticks may be hiding, so long haired dogs or cats in high risk areas should be clipped in early spring.

Symptoms of Paralysis Tick

Quickly spotting the warning signs of attachment of a paralysis tick on your pet may save their life:

  • It may seem that you pet has something stuck in their throat, generally they will cough or gag.
  • They may have difficulty walking properly with their back legs and will wobble as a result.
  • They may experience vomiting, heavy breathing or grunts and changes in their vocalisation when barking or meowing.
  • Usually paralysis is progressive, so pets lose the use of their back legs followed by their front legs. 
  • Some animals, cats particularly, may become distressed, anxious and confused.
  • Gradually animals will be unable to breathe in enough oxygen as the lungs become congested and the chest muscles become paralysed.
  • The ascending paralysis over 24-48 hours results in death of the animal.

Tick all the Right Boxes if you Find a Tick

Contact your local vet immediately.

Your pet may start to have trouble swallowing so don't give them anything by mouth.

Keep your pet as calm and cool as is possible.

Promptly remove the tick(s). Do not apply methylated spirits, kerosene or turps to the attached tick as this may cause it to release more poison before it dies. Instead, use tweezers or a tick remover to quickly pull the live tick out of your pet's skin.

Take your pet to the vet, and bring the tick inside a jar of alcohol for identification purposes.