Ticks can attack our pets all year round, however at VetLove we find a significant increase in the Springtime. If your pet meanders into long grass, undergrowth, or under trees, they are potentially at high risk. Any outside animal can pick up a tick, as they are spread by wildlife. The natural hosts of ticks are our native wildlife, such as bandicoots, possums, koalas and kangaroos, but ticks will also attach to our lovely pets for a feed and, in some cases, even humans!
It is important to seek veterinary advice should a tick be found on your pet – if you have removed the tick, please put it in jar and bring it along to your VetLove clinic for identification. Ticks can be removed by our veterinarians or by yourself using tweezers or a tick hook at the level of the skin; grasp the head and mouthparts, while taking care not to twist or squeeze the body. They can dig in deep and can be quite painful to remove. There can often be multiple ticks, so multiple searches are needed.
Symptoms of tick paralysis can take a few days to develop after attachment and can be progressive and potentially lethal. Even after the tick is removed, cats and dogs can continue to deteriorate for 48 hours.
Paralysis ticks secrete a toxin in their saliva that has effects on nerve, heart and lung function in both pets and humans. The first symptoms are generally seen is a staggering gait due to hind limb weakness. As symptoms progresses other signs include:
- An inability to vocalise normally (bark sounds different)
- Regurgitation or vomiting
- Coughing and gagging due to an inability to swallow
- Grunting on expiration
- Difficulty breathing
- Dilated pupils
- Rapid breathing
If you notice any of these symptoms, please contact the vet immediately as early treatment is critical.
Prevention is the best cure and there are simple steps you can take to protect your pet from tick toxicity. Performing a thorough daily tick search on your pet is recommended. Tick searches are made easier if your pets coat is clipped short, especially during the tick season. Ticks commonly attach around the head or where the skin folds, so be sure to check in and around ears, lips and under the collar, and thoroughly check the legs, between the toes and under the tail as part of your search.
If you have been on holidays near long grass and creeks, then continue to check your pet for five to seven days after. Products such as oral medications, spot-on treatments, collars, baths and rinses are available and can be useful in preventing tick attachment. No product absolutely prevents ticks from attaching and causing paralysis, but they do help, therefore it is important to thoroughly search your pet every day.
Please feel free to come and talk to us at VetLove for more information about tick prevention and the products available to protect your pet.