Protect your pet this tick season

Every year paralysis ticks cause illness in more than 100,000 companion animals on the east coast of Australia.

Not only is the paralysis tick one of the most common ticks, it’s also one of the most dangerous. 

Paralysis ticks are external parasites that suck the blood from their host animal. Their salivary glands produce a toxin that affect the nervous system of the host.

Once paralysis occurs the animal is likely to die unless it is treated quickly with an anti-tick serum injected by a vet. Even with the serum, it can take-48 hours for the toxin to be removed, so your pet can continue to deteriorate during this time.

Where are paralysis ticks found?

Ticks need humidity and mild weather to develop and aren’t able to survive in cold climates. They are most commonly found along the east coast of Australia during the warmer months, but can be found inland in suitable habitats and in northern parts of the country all-year-round.

What do ticks look like?

Ticks vary in size between one millimetre and 10mm long, depending on their age. They look like tiny spiders with a white, egg-shaped body. Their body becomes larger and darker as it fills with blood.

How can I protect my pet?

The best way to protect your pet is to check them daily. 

Begin with their head and remember that you’re more likely to feel the tick than see it, so make sure you use your hands. 

Check inside your pet’s ears, nose, mouth, under their chin and around their throat. 

Move down the front legs and check in between their toes. 

Feel along their body making sure to check their belly and check down their back legs and in between their toes. Inspect your pet’s genital region as ticks can sometimes be found there and finish with their tail.

It’s a good idea to use a tick treatment that will either repel ticks or kill them if they attach. Spot treatments, tablets and collars are available and it’s best to consult your vet about which is most suitable for your pet. Read the instructions very carefully as some treatments are for dogs only and can be toxic to cats.

How to spot the signs of tick poisoning

If your pet has come into contact with a paralysis tick they will begin to experience paralysis. A typical case will start with a weakness in the hindquarters that will then progress to total paralysis of all four legs.

Other early symptoms may include the following:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting or dry retching
  • Excessive salivation
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Coughing
  • Noisy panting

What should I do if my pet has a paralysis tick?

Paralysis ticks can lead to an animal needing to be ventilated and many victims of these ticks do not recover. If your pet is showing any signs of tick paralysis you should take them to a veterinarian for treatment immediately.

If you suspect that your dog or cat has tick paralysis you can reduce the risk of complications by withholding food and water before you can see a veterinarian. This is especially important if the dog or cat is vomiting.

AWLQ and RACQ are proudly working together to help Queensland pets. RACQ is offering three months free pet insurance when you either adopt an eligible pet from AWLQ or are a customer of an AWLQ vet clinic.