With spring comes glorious sunshine, warmer weather — and ticks. Although ticks can occur year-round, their peak period is spring and summer when warm weather combines with periods of rain.
What are paralysis ticks?
There are around 75 different species of ticks in Australia, but the most common are the brown tick and the deadly paralysis tick. The paralysis tick is by far the most dangerous parasite when it comes to your pet.
It is commonly found in bushy coastal areas along the East Coast of Australia, from North Queensland to Eastern Victoria.
Ticks are most prevalent from spring to autumn, however, can occur at any time of year.
When paralysis ticks attach to our pets, they inject a neurotoxin which causes progressive paralysis, respiratory depression, and death in animals which have no immunity to the toxin.
What does the paralysis tick look like?
Paralysis ticks can be identified by their grey body and legs close to the head. Their legs are the feature which best distinguishes them from other ticks that occur in the same regions. Paralysis ticks have one pair of brown legs closest to their head, then two pairs of white legs and then one pair of brown legs closest to the body.
It is not always easy to identify paralysis ticks. If the tick is not fully engorged, its body shape and colour will be hard to determine. Often, a veterinarian will be the only person who can accurately identify the type of tick; it is vital that you take your pet to a vet if you have found a tick.
What to do if you have found a tick on your pet?
Seek veterinary treatment immediately as the tick needs to be removed. If not already done, your veterinarian will remove the tick so it is unable to inject any more toxin.
It is important to take any removed ticks to the veterinary clinic so your vet can identify it. Even if you have removed the tick yourself and your pet is not displaying symptoms of tick paralysis, it’s important to get them checked over by a professional.
Tick paralysis symptoms
• Affected coordination
• Weakness or collapse
• Vomiting or retching
• Change of bark or meow
• Difficulty breathing
There are a number of parasite prevention methods on the market. Topical applications, rinses, sprays, and collars can aid in tick prevention, however, these methods do not 100 per cent protect your pet. Regular tick searches, which involve running your hands through your pet’s entire coat (including down the legs, over their stomach, and to the tip of their tail) is recommended if you live in a tick-prone region such as Winmalee, Yellow Rock and Castlereagh.
These methods, in conjunction with regular vet health checks, are your best bet at keeping nasty ticks away from your beloved furry friends.
For more information, please contact us at Orchard Hills Veterinary Hospital on 4736 2027.