The Danger of Paralysis Ticks

Ticks are nasty, sneaky venomous little parasites. They are a lethal danger to your dogs and cats too.  When it's Paralysis Tick season, what can you do to protect your dog against ticks?

The Paralysis Tick and the Brown Dog Tick are the two most common ticks on dogs in Australia.  However, it is the Paralysis Tick that is by far the most dangerous.  It causes paralysis in a variety of forms but a 'typical' case starts with weakness of the hindquarters that progresses to total paralysis of all four legs.  When the chest muscles and muscles of the throat become affected, the dog or cat is in serious trouble.  When a Paralysis Tick affects a pet, the pet often dies.

Preventing tick paralysis is a much safer and cheaper alternative than treating the condition once it has occurred.

If you live in a tick-infested area, you should examine your dog or cat for ticks on a daily basis.  If you have taken your pet for a walk through the bush or have been camping with your dog then examining it when you get back home is also a good idea.  Don't try to look for ticks, try to feel for them instead.  Ticks are a lot easier to find if you rub your finger tips through your pet's coat rather than if you try to look for them. Your pet will enjoy the patting and rubbing too!

Preventing tick paralysis is a much safer and cheaper alternative than treating the condition once it has occurred.

Research has confirmed that it's best to get the tick off yourpet's body as soon as possible.  A Tick Twister is a small tool that can help you to safely remove the tick. 

The next step is to take your pet to your veterinarian. This is vital, as the residue of the tick's toxin under the skin can really cause a problem. Although the tick has been killed or removed, the animal can still become paralysed from this residue of poison. The poison is slowly absorbed and may cause paralysis hours or even a day or two later.  

Preventing Tick Paralysis

Tick infestations can be prevented although tick control is easier on dogs than on cats.  Also, manufacturers are releasing new products onto the market regularly to make the job easier and more reliable. 

There are several ways to minimise tick infestations.

Firstly, there are specific tick collars that are available. Virbac makes one under the name of the Preventic 2 Month Tick Collar and Bayer makes another called the Kiltix Tick and Flea Collar for Dogs.

You should not use the above products on cats. 

For cats and dogs, Frontline is a good choice. Frontline Plus is effective for ticks on dogs if used every two weeks (not every month). Frontline Spray is effective for ticks on dogs and cats if used every three weeks at the rate of six millilitres per kilogram of weight.  If you find a tick on your pet, you can spray Frontline directly onto the tick to kill it.

The Bayer product Advantix is also an excellent choice for dogs and like Frontline, it is a 'spot on the neck' product. It also controls fleas but one advantage of this product is that it also repels ticks, fleas and even mosquitoes and sand flies.

Proban is an oral insecticide that is quite effective against ticks on dogs but needs to be used every two days rather than at the flea-controlling dose of twice weekly.  Some veterinarians also recommend Proban for ticks on cats at 1/4 of a tablet every two days.  A liquid version is also available.  Because Proban is an oral medication that is excreted via the pet's skin, it gives tick control over the whole of the pet's body.  When using sprays or rinses, it is possible to miss some areas, thereby allowing ticks to attach. This does not happen with Proban.

Fido's Fre-Itch Rinse is also effective for ticks and fleas if the dog or cat is rinsed in it every three days. Fido's is useful when your pet has been in a tick area and you want to bathe it to kill any hitchhiking ticks.

In tick prone areas, it is essential that your pets are searched daily for ticks. If this is done routinely, you can then eliminate tick paralysis because the tick  usually has to be on the animal's body for more than two days to cause paralysis.

Don't take chances with ticks.  They are the most dangerous of parasites that can infest your pet and they kill.  See your pet care professional or veterinarian and ask for advice on a safe tick control program for your pet.