Tick Paralysis in Dogs and Cats

Tick paralysis is a serious illness in dogs & cats and, in some cases, can be fatal. The paralysis tick (Ixodes holocyclus) is found across the east coast of Australia from the Victorian border to the tip of Queensland.

Ticks are found all year round, but are more prevalent in spring & summer, especially after rain. They are carried through the bush by possums & bandicoots (which are immune).

How do ticks affect my pet?

The ticks attach to your pet and suck blood from a vein. In return they inject a potent poison into the bloodstream. Within 2 – 3 days your pet may begin to show the following symptoms:

  1. Weakness in the hind legs, progressing to paralysis in all 4 legs
  2. Loss of bark or meow
  3. Vomiting
  4. Difficulty breathing
  5. Heart failure
  6. Aspiration pneumonia
  7. Inability to control body temperature
  8. Loss of consciousness
  9. Death in some pets

What should I do if I find a tick on my pet?

  1. If you find a tick on your pet you must seek URGENT Veterinary treatment
  2. Remove the tick or ticks if you can
  3. Keep your pet cool & quiet. Do not walk it home
  4. Do not give it any food or water as it may choke

What kind of treatment is required for tick paralysis?

Your pet will be admitted to hospital for intensive treatment which may involve Tick Antiserum, intravenous fluid therapy, sedation, ventilation, anti-vomiting medications and very close monitoring. Hospitalisation is usually 2 – 4 days but in severe cases can be up to 2 weeks. Most pets will recover & return to a normal healthy life but sadly about 5% may succumb to the tick poisoning despite treatment and die.

How can I prevent ticks?

Vet Services by 4 Paws Vet

Very effective products are available from 4 Paws Vet which aid in the prevention of Tick Paralysis in your pets. However, there is no product which guarantees 100% protection. Talk to your vet about the most suitable product for your needs.

During the tick season it is also very important to search for ticks every day on your pet. The majority of ticks are found on the shoulders, front legs, head & neck.

Please check with your vet that the product you use on your cat is safe and registered to use in cats. Do not apply dog products to your cat.

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