Be wary of potential pet danger


How to protect your pet against paralysis ticks.

Brown dog lying on examination table at vet
Prevention is the best option for protecting your pet against ticks, according to Animal Welfare League Queensland (AWLQ).

AWLQ Senior Shelter Veterinarian Dr Bridget Brown said treatment of paralysis tick could cost thousands of dollars and was potentially fatal.

“Prevention is by far the best option for you and your pet,” Dr Brown said.

“These days there are many preventative treatments that last one month to several months and are often included in a pet’s flea or worming treatment.

“Check with your local vet to see which treatment suits you and your pet best.”


Paralysis ticks suck the blood from animals and their salivary glands produce a toxin that affects the nervous system of the host.

“The most high-risk tick is the paralysis tick which can cause serious illness or even kill your pet,” Dr Brown said.

“Other common ticks that are of less concern are bush ticks, cattle ticks and brown dog ticks.”

Dr Brown said the warmer summers months, typically from October to March, saw tick numbers at their highest but they were present all year round.

“Warm weather and rain contribute to higher numbers of ticks and tick cases,” she said.

“Ticks are most prevalent in bush areas, areas where there is long grass or paddocks and wildlife.

“Most people who live in suburban areas might think this excludes them but if there are pockets of bush near your house or you take your dog to the park, your pet could be at risk of picking up a tick.”

Tick facts from AWLQ

What do ticks look like?

Ticks vary in size between 1mm and 10mm long, depending on their age. They look like tiny spiders with a white, egg-shaped body. This 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 in conjunction with a tick prevention treatment. It’s a good idea to use a tick treatment that will either repel ticks or kill them if they attach. Spot-on 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 very dangerous to cats and can even kill them. Some can also react with other medications your pet may be on.

How to spot the signs of tick poisoning

If your pet has come into contact with a paralysis tick they will experience paralysis in a variety of forms. A typical case will start with vomiting, a change in ’voice‘ and progress to weakness in the hind limbs that will then progress to total paralysis of the whole body (gastrointestinal, ability to swallow and finally paralysis of respiration). Other early symptoms may include loss of appetite, vomiting or dry retching, excessive salivation, coughing or 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 sadly many victims of these ticks do not recover. If your pet is showing any signs of tick paralysis, you should take him/her to a veterinarian for treatment promptly. 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 regurgitating.

For more information on ticks to go the AWLQ website.

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Things to note

The information in this article has been prepared for general information purposes only and is not intended as legal advice or specific advice to any particular person. Any advice contained in the document is general advice, not intended as legal advice or professional advice and does not take into account any person’s particular circumstances. Before acting on anything based on this advice you should consider its appropriateness to you, having regard to your objectives and needs.