A good tick is a dead tick!
Every year dogs and cats in Brisbane die from tick paralysis. Ticks breed in high grass, bush-land and parks, and especially near creeks. The months of highest risk are September-December. We are fortunate in Bulimba and ticks are not a great problem here. However, we do see a number of cases each year and animals going away camping or visiting any bushy areas are at higher risk.
What does a tick look like? When they first attach ticks are very small and dark brown – as they grow larger from sucking blood they become a light grey/green colour. After 2-3 days they increase greatly in size to 5mm-1cm and the pet starts to show symptoms.
Signs of tick paralysis
NB. Your pet may show only one or two of these signs!
Seek veterinary attention immediately – tick paralysis is life threatening!!
- Slightly weak in the back legs
- Completely unable to stand properly on the back legs
- Cannot stand at all on the back legs
- Change in voice (bark or meow)
- Unable to swallow properly – may dribble water or food or cough/gag when ingests either.
- Change in breathing patterns. THIS MAY BE THE ONLY SIGN. Cats often only show this sign.
Beware – this is the most life threatening sign.
- Depressed, slower, disinterested, decreased exercise tolerance
Oh, no – I’ve found a tick!
- Coat the tick with an insecticide – ‘Aerogard’, ‘Rid’, ‘Frontline’, ‘Permoxin’ and LEAVE IT TO DIE. It can then be removed. Old wives’ tales about leaving heads in etc. are just that.
- Do NOT use kerosene or anything else that will burn the skin of your pet
- Telephone your vet for more information or come in to see pictures to help you differentiate the paralysis tick from other common ticks.
- REMEMBER that animals can start to show symptoms of tick poisoning 24 – 48 hours AFTER a tick has been killed.
If your animal is showing any signs of tick poisoning it will need veterinary attention as soon as possible!!
Tick paralysis prevention
NB. No form of prevention can 100% guarantee freedom from tick paralysis as the immunity of the pet, number of ticks and individual tick toxicity are always highly variable factors.
- ADVANTIX SPOT-ON applied every two weeks
- NEXGARD – once a month tasty chew
- SCALIBOR – tick collar, active ingredient Deltamethrin – replace every 3 months
- BAYER ‘KILTIX’ COLLAR – tick collar, active ingredient Flumethrin – replace each 5-6 weeks. Avoid supermarket collars with Amitraz – we find they just don’t work!!
- FRONTLINE TOPSPOT applied every two weeks
THE MOST IMPORTANT PREVENTION is to check your pet daily by feeling over its skin for ticks, as they must be attached for 48 hours to start having a toxic effect. Most ticks are found forward of the shoulder – head, ears, under lips, under chin, around eyes, chest – but they will attach almost anywhere (always check between the toes!!).