DR RACHEL HANSEN BVSC (HONS), MY LOCAL VET, CAPALABA
Queensland is home to one of the most deadly species of parasite, Ixodes holocyclus, commonly known as the Paralysis Tick. These parasites can be found everywhere, from the bush to our own backyards, and will attach themselves to our cats and dogs and inject a deadly toxin via their saliva.
While we see a larger number of tick paralysis cases in the hotter months, paralysis ticks are active all year round. The symptoms associated with tick paralysis can be variable, and in the early stages of the disease they can be easily missed. We may also see these signs worsening for up to 24 hours after the tick has died or been removed from the animal.
In the early stages of tick paralysis, animals may show any of the following symptoms:
- Coughing, retching, or regurgitating
- A change in their breathing patterns
- Weakness or wobbliness in the back legs
- Difficulty swallowing
- A change in the sound of their bark or meow
- Difficulty blinking
In later stages of the disease, we see:
- Severe breathing difficulties (due to paralysis of the breathing muscles)
- Paralysis of the limbs and body (a partial or total inability to stand or move)
Time is critical when it comes to treating tick paralysis. If you think your pet has a tick, or is showing signs of tick paralysis, they must be seen by a vet immediately. But prevention is key – we recommend having your furry loved ones on high quality tick prevention all year round.