What is tick paralysis?
A paralysis tick, otherwise known as ixodes holocyclus, is a blood sucking parasite that can prove fatal for your pet if left untreated.
Why are paralysis ticks so dangerous?
Paralysis ticks excrete a neurotoxin in their saliva which enters your pets blood stream as the tick feeds. Once introduced, the toxin travels through your pets vascular system causing progressive muscular paralysis and in the most unfortunate of cases, eventual death, as the muscular structures of the diaphragm and heart are affected.
What should I do if I suspect my pet has a paralysis tick?
As soon as any symptoms of tick paralysis are detected your pet should be rushed to the clinic as an emergency case so that we may administer the anti-toxin medication required before it is too late. The longer treatment is delayed, the more dangerous it becomes for your pet as the effects of the neurotoxin take hold and the risk for major complication increases.
Tick paralysis patients are graded on a scale from 1A to 4D when admitted to hospital, with 1A being little to no effects of toxin and 4D being unable to walk or lift head with severe respiratory compromise. Few patients make it through treatment successfully when they arrive at a veterinary clinic as a 4D. The earlier your pet is presented to our clinic for treatment the better the chances are of survival and a full recovery.
It is important to note that the intensive nursing care, supportive treatments, medications, and in more serious cases, the mechanical ventilation required for a paralysed patient can be costly, with some patients experiencing a deterioration in their condition before any improvement is seen.
As responses to treatment are very much assessed on a case by case basis, it is impossible to tell from the start how your pet will respond to the anti-toxin medication and how long he or she will take to reach full recovery. Some patients will respond quickly and may be discharged within just a few days, other, more seriously affected animals may find themselves hospitalised for many days or even weeks before they are strong enough to return to a normal life at home.
What can I do to help increase my pets chances of survival?
If you find a tick on your pet and you are concerned it may be a paralysis tick we recommend removing it immediately if you are comfortable doing so. If you would like reassurance or assistance please don’t hesitate to contact the clinic.
For identification purposes place the tick in a sealed bag/container and bring it in for one of our experienced team members to identify.
If identified as a paralysis tick it may be recommended your pet have an examination by the duty veterinarian, in case treatment is required.
Remember the earlier treatment is sought the, better your pets chances are of survival.
Early symptoms of tick paralysis are:
Wobbly, uncoordinated gait whilst walking, particularly noticeable in the hind limbs.
Coughing, grunting and/or a loss or a change in voice.
Retching, vomiting and/or gagging.
Change in respiratory rate and increased effort.
Call us on 4057 8677 immediately if you notice any of these symptoms, it is better to be safe than sorry
How can I protect my pet against tick paralysis?
Tick prevention products we recommend here at BVS:
Nexgard – oral flavoured chew that is given orally once a month
Bravecto – tasty chew given once every 4 months.
Simparica – palatable chew given once a month
There are other products on the market including rinses, collars and spot-ons but in our experience the above products have proven to be the most effective.
Frontline spray – following manufacturer’s instructions spray every 3 weeks for paralysis tick protection
Bravecto – a spot-on treatment targeting fleas and paralysis ticks for up to 3 months
Regardless of whether your pet is receiving preventative treatment or not we recommend regular daily tick searches.