How to avoid the Paralysis Tick causing more than 500 canine deaths a year
Tick paralysis – it is one of the top causes of EASILY PREVENTABLE deaths in our pets, especially over the next two seasons. Five hundred deaths(!) annually amongst our canine population, with approximately 10,000(!) cases seen each year.
That is just appalling, given how easy it is to prevent it. It makes us very sad just thinking of all the completely avoidable pain and suffering those animals went through prior to their deaths. We want to make sure your pet doesn’t add to that number. Speaking of numbers, treatment costs for tick paralysis ranges between $1,000-$10,000. Yes, we double-checked those zeros, those numbers are correct! So, please, take the time to read this and get your pets on the best preventatives out there.
Ticks are present year-round but their breeding season is in Spring-Summer – so we see a rise in paralysis cases as they seek a blood meal from a mammalian host during this time. They normally reside on our native species such as possums, bandicoots etc., these marsupials have thankfully evolved defenses against the tick toxin. This further highlights the need to put on your pet on a preventative treatment as even those pets that are restricted to just their backyards or are indoors mostly and only go out for short toilet breaks are still at risk. All it takes is one wandering possum or bandicoot, dropping ticks on it travels through your backyard!
When feeding, the ticks release a neurotoxin into the bloodstream, a toxin that affects the functioning of nerves resulting in muscle paralysis. The clinical signs associated with the toxin are varied and change as the disease progresses. The first signs owners notice is that their pet was “quieter than usual”, or lethargic, and often only retrospectively. The next signs are commonly a change in tone of the bark or meow, followed by difficulty swallowing food and/or regurgitating their food right after eating. This occurs because the muscles in the throat get paralysed.
As more toxin is released, more generalized muscle weakness occurs and animals often present to us as ‘weak in the back legs’ or ‘wobbly’. As the disease progresses, animals struggle to breathe as the muscles that inflate the lungs fail. This is when things get really serious and animals require ICU care. The trouble with the breathing often upsets the animal, especially cats, so much so that they get very agitated making everything worse.
These cases will require sedation to keep them calm and may even require to be placed on life support (i.e. using a machine to breathe for them). Even with the most intensive care and the best of medical treatments some animals do not survive.
Be sure to check the right boxes this tick season – get some monthly Nexgard or three-monthly Bravecto on board for flea and tick prevention for your dogs and Frontline spray for your cats. It will cost you just over $20 a month to treat your pets. Please be tick-wise and vigilant!
Monty and Minx Calamvale Vets services Algester, Calamvale, Stretton, Parkinson, Kuraby, Stretton, Sunnybank, Sunnybank Hills, Forest Lake, Browns Plains, Drewvale and surrounding areas.