A good tick is a dead tick!
Every year, dogs and cats in Brisbane die from tick paralysis. Ticks breed in high grass, bush-land and parks, and especially near creeks. The months of highest risk are July-December. Wildlife are hosts to ticks and bring them into our yards for our pets to pick up. Animals that are going away camping or visiting any bushy areas are at higher risk.
What does a tick look like?
When they first attach, ticks are very small and dark brown – as they grow larger from sucking blood they become a light grey/green colour. After 2-3 days they increase greatly in size to 5mm-1cm and the pet starts to show symptoms.
Signs of tick paralysis
NB. Even if your pet is only showing one or two of these signs, seek veterinary attention immediately – tick paralysis is life threatening!!
- Slightly weak in the back legs
- Looks like a drunken sailor – unable to stand properly on the back legs
- Cannot stand at all on the back legs
- Change in voice (bark or meow)
- Unable to swallow properly/ vomiting – may dribble, gag or cough when ingesting water or food
- Change in breathing patterns. THIS MAY BE THE ONLY SIGN. Cats often only show this sign. This is the most life threatening sign
- Depressed, slower, disinterested, decreased exercise tolerance
Oh, no – I’ve found a tick!
- Remove tick immediately with tweezers or a tick twister (you can buy this from our clinic). If you cannot remove the tick, come down to the clinic and we will remove it for you free of charge.
- Do NOT use kerosene or anything else that will burn the skin of your pet trying to kill the tick first
- REMEMBER that animals can start to show symptoms of tick poisoning 24-48 hours AFTER a tick is removed.
If your animal is showing any signs of tick poisoning it will need veterinary attention as soon as possible!!
Tick paralysis prevention recommendations
- Nexgard –an easy, effective, monthly oral treatment
- Advantix – a fortnightly topical treatment
- Tick collars – These will need to be replaced every 6-8weeks depending on the brand you use. (Avoid supermarket collars with Amitraz – they just don’t work!!)
- ‘Frontline Top Spot’ – a topical treatment used fortnightly.
- MOST IMPORTANTLY – check your pet daily by feeling over its skin for ticks, as they must be attached for 48 hours to start having a toxic effect. Most ticks are found forward of the shoulder – head, ears, under lips, under chin, around eyes, chest – but they will attach almost anywhere (always check between the toes!!).