One of the great things about Australia is that its home to a large range of creatures, great and small. Unfortunately, some of these creatures can cause serious harm, both to you and your pets.
One of these creatures that can be harmful to your pet’s health is a certain type of tick, which is found only on the east coast of Australia. A tick is a tiny parasite that attaches itself to other animals, and feeds off their blood.
Left undetected, a paralysis tick that is using your pet as a host can cause paralysis. This is because of the tick’s saliva, which contains a potent and nasty combination of neurotoxins. Dogs are very susceptible to these toxins, while cats are slightly less affected by them. Today we’re going to look at the clinical signs of tick paralysis, find out where and when it can occur, and finally look at just what to do if you are concerned that your pet may have a tick.
The initial signs of tick paralysis can be subtle and hard to detect. Some animals may simply seem lethargic and less interested in their food. The tone of your dogs bark may change. Dry-retching or vomiting can occur too. As the tick’s toxin continues harming your pet, it may have difficulty walking – and can become completely paralysed in a short amount of time. Dogs will also develop heavy and laboured breathing.
Dogs and cats can die from a number of causes that are associated with a tick’s toxin. They usually pass away due to not being able to breathe or by contracting pneumonia due to inhaling food particles into their lungs – this is because the internal muscle located in their mouth and oesophagus becomes paralysed and stops working making them more likely to vomit or regurgitate and less able to prevent inhaling this.
Your pet can be affected by the toxin up to 10 – 14 days after leaving a tick infested area or having a tick on their body. If you have been in areas that are known to contain ticks it is important to monitor your animal closely during this period of time. The Eastern Suburbs of Sydney are seeing an increased amount of tick activity – there have been some cases reported from Centennial Park and its surrounds.
If you notice any of the signs listed above, and have been in an area where ticks have been reported then you should go straight to an emergency vet hospital for a check. A qualified veterinary surgeon will be able to determine if your pet is suffering from tick paralysis and will be able to treat it accordingly.