A very important parasite in east coast Australia is the paralysis tick. This small, insignificant looking parasite will be familiar to many in Australia, it does not occur in the UK. Ixodes holocyclus is the scientific name and they are prevalent mostly in the warmer months but for those in SEQLD that means all year round. We are already seeing tick cases in our practice so for those of you that think you don’t have to worry in winter…think again.
The cornerstone with paralysis tick is PREVENTION. This is very important and there are a number of products available to help with this. Spot – on products like frontline, advantix and others as well as collars can be used. I usually recommend a spot-on every two weeks and a collar, changed every 4-6 weeks. Please remember that no product is 100% reliable and DAILY checking of your pet is essential in the fight against the effects of this parasite.
If you locate a tick on your pet, pull it off straight away. Don’t worry about “leaving the head in” as this does not appear to be an issue. Just get it off asap and watch out for any clinical signs.
Clinical signs of envenomation can be varied. Usual signs can be wobbliness in the legs, coughing or change in voice, vomiting or gagging among other signs. If you notice any of these signs you must get your pet to a vet as soon as possible. If you are in any doubt call your vet for advice.
Treatment involves giving your pet an infusion of tick serum which is a type of antivenom. This will help stop the progression of clinical signs. Your pet then needs time to recover from the effects of both the venom and the antivenom.
Tick venom can have wide reaching effects on your pet and recovery can often be complicated. Each case is different and your vet is best placed to advise you on what is best for your pet.
In summary…prevention is the key, careful checking of your pet daily, quick removal of ticks and seek veterinary advice asap if you are concerned about symptoms. Remember, ticks can kill if left unnoticed and untreated.