In Sydney we have entered the ‘tick season’ – it’s unofficially Spring and Summer, however in warmer areas up north it can be all year around. One type of tick, the paralysis tick, is a big problem along the East Coast of Australia, and if left to feed on your pet (both dogs and cats can be affected) it will inject it’s toxin which will cause them to become very sick and if left untreated, can result in death.
Signs to look for are a change in voice (i.e. bark), loss of appetite, vomiting, weakness progressing to paralysis of the legs (back legs first) and difficulty breathing.
Do be aware that it can be a number of days from the feeding of a paralysis tick on your mate until signs are seen, this means that even if things appear normal after you have removed a tick, you need to keep your pet quiet for a number of days and monitor closely for any signs that things aren’t well. If you have any concerns, have them checked out by your local veterinarian immediately.
When you’re visiting or live in a tick area: (Tip: always call the local veterinarian to where you are visiting for advice on whether ticks are a problem in the area)
Keep ticks AWAY
- Use a preventative: Chat to a veterinarian about what works best for you and your pet, remembering some products are very toxic to cats. Options include sprays, collars, spot ons (2 weekly), monthly tablets and the newest (and very exciting!) one is a very effective tablet that can be given orally every 3 months.
- Stay away from bushland. Ticks love it here.
- Do a tick search with your finger tips for 5 minutes every day- from the tip of their nose to their tail, and everywhere in between! Most ticks are found from the shoulders froward (ear tip and lip folds as well), but they can be anywhere and are also often found on the paws. Feel over your entire pet every night for any ‘bumps’ that could be a tick.
Get ticks OFF
This is where the information out there is a bit inconsistent to say the least, in Australia there is debate about whether they are best pulled off or killed in situ and simply then allow them to fall off. Without trials to test which gives a better outcome there can’t be a universal recommendation about which is better.
We do know the longer the tick is on the animal the more paralysis inducing toxin they can pass on, so my advice is:
- Remove the tick IMMEDIATELY.
- Tick Removal Tool : Buy one, no buy two. One in the car and one on hand. They are cheap and can be purchased from pet care shops / veterinary clinics. They allow you to easily lever and twist the tick off (all parts attached) your pet’s skin so that nothing is left behind to cause an allergic reaction and no more toxin is passed to your pet.
- No Tool? You can use tweezers or even your finger nails as close to the skin of your pet where the tick is implanted as possible. Do be careful not to squeeze the body of the tick, which could cause increased risk of an allergic reaction or risk more toxin to be passed to your pet. This does risk some parts remaining in your pet, but at least no more toxin is being released. Place the tick in a bag or container so you can show your local Veterinarian.
- Keep Calm. You and your pet!
See your local Veterinarian if you have any concerns and remember that clinical signs of paralysis tick may not be seen on your pet for a few days, even after removal of the tick.