So just because you live in Canberra, you think that you don’t need to use tick prevention on your pet, right? Wrong! Think again! The movement of pets between coastal areas and Canberra has meant that they bring with them unwanted passengers and that paralysis tick populations in Canberra are growing during the warmer months. Whilst not yet endemic, paralysis ticks have found habitats in Canberra where they are able to survive and the number of cases of unprotected pets affected by these dangerous parasites is increasing.
Both dogs and cats can be affected by paralysis ticks and the signs and severity of symptoms will vary according to how long the tick has been attached and where on the body it is attached. Early signs can include (in no particular order):
• Hindlimb, progressing to forelimb weakness,
• Increased respiratory rate,
• Laboured breathing with an expiratory ‘grunt,’
• Change in bark or meow and
• Vomiting or retching.
Even if your pet seems unusually lethargic, this too can be an early sign of tick paralysis and you should present to your vet immediately if you are concerned. As with snake envenomation, the earlier that the antiserum for paralysis tick is administered, the better the prognosis for recovery for your pet.
The great news is that there are many new tick prevention products on the market which are very effective, such as Bravecto and Nexguard and as long as these are used regularly and according to manufacturer’s instructions, have significantly decreased the number of pets affected by this disease. The best advice is to talk to your regular veterinarian to find the product that it best suited to you and your pet. Protect your pet with the regular application of preventative products and be especially prudent if travelling to the coast with your four legged friend.