Dec 06
dog looking sad and unwell

Paralysis Tick Safety Tips for Pets

Paralysis ticks (scientific name: Ixodes holocyclus) are largely found along the east coast of Australia from North Queensland to Victoria. They love warm, humid weather so up north they are a problem all year around, and in NSW they tend to peak in Spring and Summer.

When this tick bites and feeds on your cat or dog, they inject their toxin at the same time. The ticks’ toxin affects nerve function, and without prompt attention, can result in fatality.

Signs seen with tick paralysis
It can take up to or more than 5 days for symptoms to be seen after the tick has attached, and can cause the any of following:

  1. A change in their bark or meow
  2. Loss of appetite
  3. Vomiting / Gagging
  4. Lethargy
  5. Weakness progressing to paralysis, often starting in the back legs moving to all four
  6. Difficulty breathing

If your pet is showing any of these signs it’s essential to have them checked out by your local Veterinarian immediately as early intervention gives best chance of full recovery.

Prevention is best
The best thing we can do for our pets is to avoid tick paralysis all together.  Make sure they are on a preventative medication and triple check to make sure it includes paralysis ticks!

Give the preventative as prescribed (see the box instructions) – don’t let it lapse, even a week late is a week your pet will not be protected from tick paralysis! If your unsure if your pet is up to date – they probably are not.

Vet note: Remember you cannot use dog tick products on your cat as they can cause a fatal reaction.

Keep your besties safe

  • Provide your pet with an appropriate preventative
  • Ensure preventatives are taken when due
  • Set a calendar reminder so that it’s never forgotten
  • Check your pet DAILY for ticks – don’t rely on preventatives alone
  • Keep your grass short

Vet note: 5 minute daily tick search. Use your finger tips to comb through your pet’s coat feeling for a lump on the skin. From the tip of their nose to their tail, and everywhere in between! Most ticks are found from the shoulders forward (ear and lip folds as well), but they can be anywhere and are also often found on the paws.

Found a tick?
If you find a tick it must be removed as quickly as possible – if you are near a Vet – head straight there and have the experts remove it.

If you are not close to a Vet you may need to remove it at home. Use a tick removal tool. They allow you to easily lever and twist the tick off your pet’s skin so that the tick’s legs and head are all removed and nothing is left behind to cause an allergic reaction or pass more toxin to your pet.

If you don’t have a tool you can use tweezers or even your finger nails underneath the attached tick as close to the skin of your pet as possible. Do be careful not to squeeze the body of the tick, as this could cause increased risk of an allergic reaction, or risk more poison to be passed to your pet. This method may not remove all parts of the tick that are burrowed into the skin, but at least no more poison is being released.

Place the tick in a container and head to the clinic for your local Veterinarian to identify.

About The Author

Claire is a QLD graduate with 19 years experience as a neighbourhood Veterinarian in Australia and the UK. Animal lover and the founder of VetChat, born from a passion to help pet carers everywhere access trusted advice earlier, for healthier, happier pets. Grateful to be carer to her beautiful Red-dog.