Paralysis Ticks

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Google Maps location for Murwillumbah Veterinary Clinic

Murwillumbah Veterinary Clinic
8-10 Queen St
Murwillumbah
NSW 2484

Phone:
02 6672 1919
Fax:
02 6672 1918

 Tick Information

Here is a table of the number of tick cases of all species Murwillumbah Vet Clinic has treated per month since 2012. It just goes to show that though there is a distinct 'tick season' from July to January, ticks ARE present ALL YEAR round in the Tweed Valley and prevention should be used all year too!



2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

January

8

0

8

2

1

February

1

1

0

1

0

March

0

1

0

0

0

April

1

2

0

1

0

May

6

6

0

1

1

June

3

1

2

3

2

July

8

6

8

4

5

August

8

10

8

13

4

September

23

30

16

22

15

October

23

22

22

16

 

November

19

23

25

9

 

December

12

11

3

8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An update on tick paralysis

Tick paralysis is caused by the tick Ixodes holocyclus and is an extremely variable and complex syndrome. Once the tick attaches to your pet its toxic saliva, composed of a blend of different toxins, is passed into the bloodstream and then, in an non immune animal, it passes into the body organs.

The toxicity affects all types of muscle and signs seen commonly in dogs and cats are; 

  • paralysis of skeletal muscles
  • paralysis of eyelids causing 2ndary ulcers
  • paralysis of oesophagus causing retching and regurgitation
  • paralysis of the heart causing heart failure
  • paralysis of the larynx causing respiratory obstruction and/or inhalation of regurgitated
  • stomach contents resulting in severe pneumonia
  • paralysis of the bladder causing urinary retention or incontinence
  • paralysis of the diaphragm and intercostal muscles causing respiratory exhaustion

Treatment of tick toxicity involves giving premedication drugs which vary according to the clinical signs, age and species and then giving diluted tick antiserum slowly intravenously via a catheter.

It is important to remember that the antiserum can neutralize the toxin in the blood stream but largely cannot reverse the effects of the toxin on body organs to which it has already attached. This will happen only over time and how long it takes will be very variable depending on the toxicity of an individual tick,how long it was attached and the strengths or weaknesses of your pet.

This means that any time delay between finding and removing the tick and getting treatment reduces the chances of recovery. Any animal already badly retching or in severe respiratory difficulty will need extra supportive treatment to help them survive long enough for the toxin to wear off. Some will even need to go on supportive oxygen ventilation.

Hence the longer you wait to treat your pet the more treatment your pet will require, the more costly it will be and the more likely your pet could die.

However if brought in at the same stage of paralysis, an old, short nosed breed of dog with underlying pre existing disease will obviously not have the same chances of survival as a young healthy cat, even with lots of additional support.

Remember approximately 95% of our tick cases will recover and go home but not all cases make it!!!! Your pet will need to stay in hospital until they can breathe, walk, urinate and eat and drink by themselves.

Even after they have gone home the cardiovascular, bladder and oesophageal effects can still be present for the next week or two and it is very important to keep your pet quiet and rested during this time.

Some information on TICK ANTI SERUM

The dog is the only suitable donor for producing tick anti serum and can only safely donate a small amount of blood for a few months every year. To produce an effective antidote for paralysis, the serum has to be concentrated, hence its production is an expensive process. The amount used is also dependant on your pet's body weight.

Tick prevention

Daily Tick Search: Feel all over your cat or dog with your fingertips especially the head, neck, shoulder and chin areas but ticks can be found anywhere on the body. Don't forget to look under the collar.

Shave long haired dogs and cats in the summer to ease tick detection.

DOGS should have tick collar changed monthly during the tick season (which can be almost all year round in the Tweed Valley)

Or advantix use FORTNIGHTLY

CATS can only have frontline spray used every 3 weeks. Other tick control products can be toxic to cats.

Please ask us for advice.

SIGNS

If you find a tick on your pet please remove it immediately with your fingernails, a pair of tweezers or a specialised tick remover.

DOGS

If your dog has a change in the sound of their bark, vomits or has difficulty eating, seems reluctant to walk far, is wobbly or has a change in the pattern of breathing then this may be a sign of tick paralysis and your should contact us without delay.

It may take up to 3 days for a dog to show signs of paralysis after a tick has been removed and early treatment is far more effective and cheaper than waiting until your dog is collapsed and in severe respiratory difficulty.

CATS

Broadly speaking the same principals apply to ticks in cats as in dogs, with cats having more problems with the respiratory effects of the tick toxin and being very prone to eye ulcers. They also suffer far more from anxiety associated with these respiratory difficulties and their treatment once in hospital is adapted to take this into account. Cats also cannot wear tick collars or use advantix which reduces our prevention options. Again ask us for advice.

INSURANCE

Tick paralysis treatment at MVC can vary in price from $300 for a small uncomplicated cat case to well over $1500 for a large complicated dog case. We also have to refer some cases to specialists for long term ventilation and we have had one client whose bill there was over $10,000 by the time the specialists had sorted out her beloved pet's secondary problems. Her dog stayed in hospital for 3 weeks and is now a healthy happy girl!

With pet insurance costing approximately $1.30 a day that bill could have been massively reduced. We advise you to investigate pet insurance to take away your worry (and ours) about being able to afford the best treatment for your pet.

Please remember to look carefully to check the insurance company you choose covers tick paralysis and snake bite.