Tick Paralysis (Ixodes holocyclus)
It strikes fear in the heart of any Australian pet owner…. and for good reason. Paralysis ticks (scientific name Ixodes holocyclus) are unique to Australia and love warmth and humidity.
They are found all year round on the Eastern coastline – Favouring warm and humid climates, however don’t let this preference fool you! They have been sneaking up through winter as well. Ticks feed on blood by attaching to your pet’s skin. They inject a paralysing toxin that is deadly to pets. Early symptoms in affected pets include wobbly or weak back legs, vomiting and changes in their bark or meow. If left untreated, this rapidly progresses to full body paralysis and eventually results in the inability to breathe, leading to death. It is vital to seek treatment immediately; the sooner tick antiserum is administered the greater the chance of recovery.
Prevention is definitely best. Knowing your pet is protected against this deadly parasite will give you peace of mind. There are a number of products available that are easy to administer and affordable. These can be administered to puppies and kittens as young as 8 weeks of age, via chewable monthly tablets, 3 monthly chewable tablets, or 3-6 monthly spot-on prevention.
"Should I use preventative products if my pet/s don't go outside our house/yard?"
Short answer, Yes. To elaborate a bit; If you have birds, lizards and native wildlife travel through or over your property, then your pet is at risk of tick paralysis. Our natives aren't affected by paralysis ticks like our companion animals are, and they play as temporary hosts for these nasty parasites.. So if you have lizard/bird traffic, or the occasional kangaroo or wombat travel past, your pet is susceptible to paralysis ticks.
"What should I do if I find a tick on my pet?"
If you can identify what type of tick you have found, fantastic! Remove the tick with a tick remover or by pinching towards the base of the burrowed head, and twist - then pull. A paralysis ticks toxins are in their body, not their head. So if you don't have a tick remover, tweezers or pinching the base of their head will suffice.
If you're unsure however, we'd advise taking your pet in to your local vet asap. Ticks can go unnoticed, until your pet eventually starts presenting symptoms and may deteriorate quickly. Prevention is ALWAYS recommended year-round.
We understand that every pet has different needs, so we offer preventative health advice to make sure we work together to choose the best product for your pet.
Call us at Albion Park Veterinary Hospital on 4256 3638, or Gerringong Vets on 4234 1317 and speak with one of our friendly veterinary nurses.