Although ticks are found all over the world, the paralysis tick is only found in Australia. It is restricted to the humid east coast of Australia from North Queensland to Northern Victoria. The Gold Coast is right in the middle of the tick zone.
The worst time for tick paralysis is from August through to February, but at Animal Magic Pet Grooming we see pets with ticks all year round. In our experience, ticks are particularly prevalent when rain follows a period of warm weather. On the Gold Coast, that is not uncommon.
Signs of tick paralysis
The most common signs that we see are:
Vomiting, regurgitating or refusing to eat
A change in voice (bark or meow may become hoarse)
Weakness in the back legs
Lack of coordination or inability to climb stairs, (may progress to collapse and paralysis)
Breathing problems – panting, coughing or slow laboured breathing
It is important to know that occasionally patients will not develop the usual signs of tick paralysis, and may show other signs of illness.
As the poisoning progresses, pets become unable to stand and have extreme difficulty breathing. Eventually, untreated tick poisoning will result in death.
Removing a paralysis tick from your pet
If you are ever unsure if something is a tick or not, please do not hesitate to phone and have one of our professional groomers to have a look and let you know. Adult paralysis ticks have very long barbed mouth-parts which embed in the pet’s skin, which makes them hard to remove. Ticks can be removed with tweezers by grasping the tick as close to the skin as possible, or preferably with a Tick Twister. If the mouth-parts break off, the tick will be dead and hence cannot produce any more toxin or burrow any deeper. The site may become infected, so we do recommend removing the mouth-parts if possible and treating with an antiseptic.
We strongly recommend two important components of tick prevention:
A tick search: This must be done often during the tick season, even if your pet is on tick prevention. Most ticks are found on the pet’s head, neck or shoulders. The most effective way to tick search is to systematically run your fingers along their skin until you have checked their entire body. We also encourage owners to bring their pets in to Animal Magic to have one of our groomers wash and blow dry a dog every few weeks. This process not only keeps the coat clean but also provides an opportunity to potentially find any ticks that can easily be missed by owners.
Use an oral medication or topical/spot on product. There are several effective products on the market that include Nexguard, Advantix and Frontline. Also the use of a tick collar may also prevent ticks as well,
For tick prevention, we recommend to bring your furry friend (dog and cat) into the salon for regular grooms, bath and drying. This allows our staff to examine the coat and maybe find a tick that can be easily hidden. If you are concerned with the health of your dog and it is showing signs of a potential tick, then please take your dog immediately to your vet or to the Animal Emergency Centre (Carrara) if outside regular hours.