Don’t Get Ticked Off this Summer
We’re often told that deadly paralysis ticks don’t trouble pets in Melbourne, and by and large this is true. However we’ve seen a couple of atypical cases at Prahran already this summer, one a puppy recently arrived from a breeder in NSW, and the other a dog whose owner’s purchased a plant in Gippsland and unwittingly brought a tick home with it… Their poor little dog never even left his garden! If you’ll be heading north over summer you’ll definitely want to read on.
Paralysis ticks (Ixodes holocyclus) are found in coastal scrub areas in the eastern states of
Australia. In Victoria the distribution of the paralysis tick is primarily in the east Gippsland region which extends from the east coast as far inland as Bairnsdale and Omeo. Paralysis ticks are primarily found along the coast of NSW and Queensland.
Ticks are most prevalent from spring to autumn, but can be encountered all year round. You can’t be too careful when it comes to paralysis ticks. Veterinary advice should be sought and any ticks that have been removed should be presented for identification along with your pet. Ticks can be removed by your vet or by yourself, using tweezers or special “tick-puller” implements at the level of the skin by grasping the head and mouthparts, taking special care not to twist or squeeze the body.
Initially you may not suspect your pet has contracted a tick as symptoms may take up to a week to develop. The clinical signs are progressive and potentially fatal. The earlier symptoms are identifed and treatment initiated, the better the outcome for your pet. Paralysis ticks secrete a toxin in their saliva which has effects on your pet’s nervous system, cardiac and respiratory function. The first sign generally seen is a staggering gait due to weakness in the back legs. This paralysis is termed “ascending” as it moves forward in the body and may cause signs such as:
- • A change in your pet’s voice/bark
- • Regurgitation or vomiting
- • Coughing and gagging due to an inability to swallow
- • Grunting on expiration
- • Difficulty breathing
- • Dilated pupils
- • Rapid breathing
Treatment is possible but the outlook can remain guarded for severely affected pets and due to the intensive nature of the care required, treatment often comes with a hefty fee!
Prevention is the best solution and there are simple steps you can take to protect your pet from tick toxicity. Performing thorough daily tick searches on your pet is recommended if you live in, or plan to holiday in a tick prone area. Finding ticks will be made easier if your pet’s coat is clipped short, especially during the tick season. Ticks commonly attach around the head so be sure to check in and around ears and under the collar and also thoroughly check the legs, between the toes and under the tail as part of your search.
Continue to check your pet for ticks for 5-7 days when you leave a paralysis tick area. Products such as spot-on treatments, baths, rinses and collars are available and can be useful in preventing tick attachment but thorough searching remains vital as no product can absolutely prevent tick paralysis.
Talk to us for more information about some of the promising new products available to protect your pet if you’ll be visiting a tick zone this summer.