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Paralysis Ticks – The worst season is on its way!

Paralysis Ticks kill many dogs every year, they are a horrible little parasite that kills a dog slowly and in a torturous manner. They attach themselves to our dogs and burrow into the skin so that can get blood. In doing so they emit a lethal poison that slowly paralyses ours dogs. Often eventually inhibiting breathing and finally the dog dies.

Early detection is a must if you are to save your dog.

Experts say that this year is set to be a very bad Tick season, as reporting vets are seeing many more cases this year already than last year. It is believed that as we didn’t have a very cold winter that this has boosted the breeding season of the Paralysis Tick.

Ticks usually, but not always attach selves to the head, neck, behind the ears and face of a dog. These are areas the dog has difficulty in seeing so wont often be aware a Tick has attached itself. They can also attach between the toes, around the anus, user the tail or anywhere on the dog.

Check your dog carefully

Paralysis Ticks are most common on the East Coast of Australia but cases have been reported in many other regions of Australia.

Tick Bite Prevention

There is no 100% guaranteed way that we have found to eliminate the chance of a Tick bite, I have pulled Ticks from my own dogs and other people’s when the dog has been treated with Spot On Tick Treatments of all brands, this isn’t to say that I wouldn’t use one, but I know that they are helpful, not a guarantee.

Most vets I know and speak with feel the Tick Collar has probably the highest prevention rate of any Tick prevention available but their effectiveness can drop if your dog swims frequently.

There are a few natural or “organic” preventions, but I am not sure of how effective they are as I don’t know of any tests completed.

Natural Preventions

Cedar Oil

Ticks are known to avoid Cedar oil and by spraying Cedar Oil on your dogs coat, you will create a very unattractive environment for Ticks.

Citrus Spray

  • A few people I know swear by this, you cut up a lemon and put it into a jar, fill the jar with boiling water and seal the jar, about 300ml is fine.
  • Leave over night and open and mash the lemon up. Leave another 24 hours with lid on.
  • Open jar and strain liquid into spray bottle, spray your dog with this through a demisting spray bottle, avoiding the eyes.

I have seen Ticks detach from dogs whilst this is being sprayed on the dog. You can treat your dog with this spray every few days in Tick season.

A 50/50 solution of Apple Cider Vinegar and water can be used the same way, with a little more of a potent vinegar smell than the lemon.

Diet

Feeding Brewers Yeast or Garlic can help alter the taste of the dogs blood making it undesirable for the Tick to feed.

Chemicals

Permethrin is probably one of the more common sprays you can apply to a dog that is quite effective, it is available in many forms and of course there are many others such as Frontline Sprays etc

Tick Detection

Each day I run my hands all over my dogs with open fingers through their hair, I feel for the smallest little bump on their skin. Ticks can be very small, starting only a little bigger than a flea. If I find that bump I burrow through the dogs coat and get a visual on it. If it is a Tick I remove it instantly and do a thorough search for more.

This Tick is Fully Fed and this dog would be showing symptoms

Ticks are easier detection is short coated dogs and when the Tick is fully fed as it is of course larger, but many times when the Tick is fully fed, you will be drawn to the dog by paralysis symptoms, and by then it is or may be too late.

Tick removal

What I don’t do that some others do.

  • Don’t tear the Tick off your dog, this can squeeze more poison into your dog and make matters worse.
  • Don’t burn the Tick with a lighter, your will likely create a Tick in distress which again will release more poison.
  • No tweezers, this crushes the Tick and releases more poison and often breaks the Tick in half, leaving the dead Tick body in your dog.

What I do

K9Pro Tick Key

I carry a Tick Key on every set of keys I have and one in my wallet and another in my training bag. Do you think I want to have a Tick Key everywhere I am? Your dead right I do.

The Tick Key is so far the best removal tool I have found because: –

  • It removes the Tick in one piece
  • It will remove a Tick simply every time
  • It will work on the smallest to the largest Tick
  • They are convenient to carry on your keys so are often on hand.

Take a look at this video of the Tick Key in action.

 

[youtube width="715" height="385" video_id="iJg3_598STY"]

 

What are the more common symptoms of Tick Paralysis?

  • Most dogs will become wobbly or unbalanced in the back legs, falling over or reluctant to get up.
  • They may vomit or gag, it is common to notice a difference in the dogs tone of bark
  • They lose their gag reflex, meaning if you stick your fingers in their throat they don’t gag.
  • They will have rapid breathing, lethargic and eventual death.

If your dog affected by Tick paralysis

  • Search your dog for the Tick, remember it may have dropped off and be gone.
  • If you find the Tick, remove it, but know that by the time you have seen symptoms, you will need veterinary care.
  • Get your dog to the vet immediate, if it is late get to the emergency vet, time is critical here.
  • Once your dog is in treatment check your other dogs, yourself and your children, yes they attach to us as well.

Make a habit of every morning and every evening giving your dog a good going over, they will love the extra attention and that means your checking your dog twice a day. Grooming your dog and keeping its coat knot free and clean can also help.

Our Friends at the University Veterinary Teaching Hospital Camden, Faculty of Veterinary Science have also given us this helpful article to share with you.

There has been a lot of media interest in the predictions of a terrible tick season this year. This is a serious concern for people who visit or live near bush areas along the NSW coast and in the Blue Mountains. These are places where bandicoots live and they are the natural hosts for the feared Australian paralysis tick (Ixodes holocyclus).

There are a few different kinds of ticks but without doubt the one that causes the worst problems is the Australian paralysis tick. Once latched onto our unsuspecting dogs and cats, they release a toxin that interferes with the nervous system.

When signs are first noticed (up to 7 days after attachment) they can range from a change in the sound of the bark or wobbliness in the hind legs to a complete paralysis of all four legs. The dog or cat may have issues swallowing, breathing may become difficult and there can also be an effect on the heart, ultimately leading to cardiovascular failure.

In one study, 5% of dogs that were taken to vets died due of the effects of the tick toxin despite treatment. This figure is probably higher for dogs that do not receive any treatment. It is therefore imperative that you should seek professional help if you find an unidentified tick on your dog and cat.

If you live by the coast or a planning a trip to an area where there is a prevalence of paralysis ticks then it is important to reduce the risk of intoxication by stopping the ticks attaching in the first place. No preventative medication is 100% effective but there are collars and spot on treatments that you can get from your vet that will help.

Even when using preventative medication, it is important to check your dogs and cats daily to look for attached ticks. They can mostly be found around the front end of the body including mouth, ears, nose and feet but 20% are found in areas further back on the body.

Dogs with long coats are not more likely to pick up ticks but if a tick is attached then it is more difficult to find. You may, therefore, consider having long-haired dogs clipped for spring and summer. If you find a live tick, it is best to remove the tick as soon as possible. There are easy-to-use tick removers available from your vet and these allow you to safely and quickly detach the tick.

If you do not have a tick remover do not try to remove it by grasping the body of the tick as you could inject more toxin into your pet. You should attempt to keep your animal as calm and quiet as possible and take them to the nearest vet who will remove the tick for you, identify it and start the appropriate lifesaving therapy.

Treatment is aimed at finding and removing the ticks, neutralising the toxin and supporting the animals until they are fully recovered.

This may take a few days of hospitalisation and there may be a significant cost.? Prompt action and vigilance is therefore always advised.

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12 comments

  1. Absolutely awesome. Like everything else they spread towards Melbourne. Love the prevention methods and the tick key. You guys have done it again. Thanks.

  2. An alert worker just found a tick on a cat that had come in for boarding the day before. Surely there should be no ticks in the upper blue mountains in winter. average temp 6-10 deg day and 1-3 deg at night. Thank goodness the worker knew the cat well and so recognised that the cat wasn’t being himself. anyone got any ideas?

    • There are no times when ticks are not a risk, but times when the risk is usually low. We are in Kurrajong and although we have had none here, we know people that have seen plenty.

      Last years tick season was very bad, and this winter they are coming early so it could be a very bad tick season.

      Be very aware and consider all preventions because they are here and deadly

  3. An alert worker of ours just found a paralysis tick on a cat that had come in for boarding the day before. The cat just wasn’t acting his usual self and so she did felt the cat all over and found it. Surely there should not be ticks in the upper blue mountains in the middle of winter average temperature 6 to 10 deg day and 1-3 de3g at night. Any ideas anyone?

  4. Nice article. When I remove ticks with my fingers, the mouth of the tick doesn’t come out easily. It remains attached to my dog. Tickkey should be tried, I think.

  5. Wow thanks guys. It is so informative and has great ideas. Thank you.

    I have shared your tick information on facebook. cheers guys,

    Nicole

  6. Saved as a favorite, I love your site!

  7. Thanks for the article. I have pulled a tick off Jake’s rear leg already this year. Luckily it had not long attached and although a few mm long was flat ie hadn’t started engorging (but it was still a bugger to remove where is the tick key when you need it!). I monitored Jake closely for symptoms, but all has been well.
    Cannot recommend more highly the advice of daily checks, that’s why I found the bugger early. Don’t think you are safe just because you have applied a spot on preparation. We have known several dogs at our parks on the Northern Beaches who didn’t make it through paralysis… 🙁

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