Tick toxicity in dogs

What is a paralysis tick?

The paralysis tick (Ixodes holocyclis) is unique to the east coast of Australia. The adult female tick is the main cause of tick paralysis in our domestic animals. It is usually grey in colour with orange legs and head part. The tick itself can be tiny to start with but is usually approximately 4 mm across by which time it causes signs of toxicity. It usually has been attached for a few days before reaching this size, hence ticks found early and removed promptly may prevent signs of toxicity. In our area ticks are present all year round but tend to be worse from August to March.

What are the signs of tick toxicity in dogs?

Signs commonly noticed in dogs include:

-Lethargy and quiet behaviour.
-Reluctance to walk more then a few steps before sitting or lying down again.
-Weakness and wobbliness in the back legs that can progress to the front legs.
-Increased breathing effort and changes in breathing noises, especially a “grunting” sound when breathing out.
-Changes in voice and barking.
-Throat clearing type of action where the dog opens its mouth wide with a gagging sound. It is often mistaken as something caught in the throat. Coughing, vomiting, loss of appetite and dry retching are also commonly reported.
-Lying on its side, unable to sit or stand

How can I find ticks on my dog?

Finding ticks on your pet is best performed by “finger walking” through its coat rather then trying to find them visually. Ticks can hide everywhere!

The most common areas are:

-Around the head, neck and ears. Sometimes even hiding inside the lips.
-Between toes.
-Front end of the body (limbs, chest, shoulders and under the arms)
-Back end of the body including the tail, bottom and genitalia.
If you find a tick on your pet it is advised to remove it immediately. You may use your finger, tweezers or special tick hooks. Keep the tick for professional identification and seek veterinary attention promptly.

What can I do to prevent ticks on my dog?

There are many commercial products available that may help prevent ticks in dogs. Examples include Killtix collars, Frontline spray, Advantix spot-on treatment, Permoxin rinse, Proban tablets and more. Many of those products can be HIGHLY TOXIC FOR CATS and are not advised if you have a feline friend in the house. If you wish to discuss the use of certain products please seek professional attention. No single product is totally reliable for tick prevention and daily “finger walking” is by far the most effective way to prevent tick toxicity. We also advise to keep your pet away from long grass and bush land and to keep its coat nice and short during tick season.

If you have any questions do not hesitate to contact our team!