We have always been told that there are no paralysis ticks in Tasmania and that they are only found on the mainland. Tragically, we recently learned that this is not the case when a dog was recently poisoned by a tick at her Mountain River home and subsequently died while being treated at the emergency vet clinic.
The paralysis ticks in Tasmania are not identical to those on the mainland but are obviously still deadly. Now that we do know they are here we need to ensure we protect our pets. Ticks are most prevalent in the warmer months so we need to be vigilant now.
Prevention is better than cure so our first step should be to use a tick treatment product such as Bravecto or Nexgard. Bravecto Plus is also effective for cats. Checking for ticks should be secondary to this but detecting them early if they are present will help to prevent tick paralysis. To do this we need to use our fingertips starting from the tip of the dog’s nose and working down to the tail. We need to ensure we check between the toes, inside the ears and under the collar. Ticks are most commonly found near the head, ears and neck and in the warm folds of skin under the legs or the tail.
The tick attaches itself to the pet and burrows its mouth parts into the skin. It is fairly small when it attaches itself to its host growing in size as it consumes more blood and developing a large grey body. If we find one we need to try to remove the tick immediately using tweezers or a tick hook. If we can grasp the tick’s head a twist will usually lift the whole tick off. If we can’t remove it we should visit the vet as soon as possible.
It can take hours or even days before symptoms of tick paralysis appear.
If we notice any of these symptoms we should again contact our vets immediately:
Poor co-ordination or paralysis in the legs.
Vomiting or dry retching.
Change to bark.
Loss of appetite.
We hope our dogs are never affected by paralysis ticks but now that we are aware that this danger exists in Tasmania we trust we can avoid any repeat of the tragedy that befell Rose.
Huon Valley Veterinary Hospital
Paws for Thought – The Examiner
5 signs your dog might have a tick – PAW by Blackmores.
Information supplied by Huon Valley Dog Walking Association