Paralysis ticks can quickly affect the health of your pets

THE paralysis tick is a parasite of native Australian animals.

Bandicoots as the primary hosts are immune to ticks but ticks are indiscriminate feeders and will climb onto your pets for a feed.

Winter/spring is tick season in south-east Queensland.

The tick will attach its mouth parts to your pet's skin: its saliva is neurotoxic.

After three to five days of feeding the tick has swollen to the size of a pea and is grey.

Symptoms of Tick Paralysis Syndrome are classified in stages:

  • Stage 1: the patient has a wobbly gait or changes to his voice.
  • Stage 2: the patient presents with vomiting gagging or is having difficulty swallowing.
  • Stage 3: the patient cannot walk and is having difficulty breathing.
  • Stage 4: the patient is collapsed and unable to stay upright.

Tick-affected pets need to be assessed by a veterinarian as soon as symptoms are noted.

Treatment levels depend on the severity of symptoms.

Your pet will need to be cared for by the veterinary team.

Drugs including the tick serum and intravenous fluids will be administered as needed.

The majority of tick-affected patients need to be hospitalised for one or more days.

The intensive care provided will include monitoring of vital signs - temperature, pulse, respirations and oxygen levels; monitoring of urine output and provision of support therapy such intranasal oxygen.

Your pet may need its throat regularly suctioned of saliva and mucous which accumulates with paralysis.

Prevention is always better than cure and is done with daily coat checks and administering of tick preventing preparations especially the new monthly and three-monthly tablets for dogs.

Ask your vet about what is the best for your pet.

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