Ticks: How to Keep your Pet from Getting Paralysis Ticks in Brisbane
It’s warming up in Brisbane which means it is tick season. Tick paralysis is one of the most common causes of death in pets in Queensland, but it is also the most preventable if you are aware of how to identify a tick on your pet and/or the symptoms of paralysis. It is so important to be aware of ticks, especially the deadly paralysis ticks, what they can do to your pet, and how to prevent your pets from ticks.
What are ticks and what do they look like?
A paralysis tick is a dangerous parasite that latches onto a dog or cat and consumes their blood, as they feed, they secrete a deadly toxin which can have paralysing effects on an animal’s nervous system.
Ticks can look different depending on how long they have been latched onto your pet. A tick that has just ‘caught a ride’ will be trying to find a site to latch and can be on top of or in your animals’ fur. As they have not fed, they are smaller, brown or grey in colour and often have a translucent body when held to light. As for a latched tick they will be engorged, and a blue to light grey colour. When patting your animal they can often feel like a skin tag or cyst when you run your fingers over them. It is important to check inside the animal’s fur if you feel something like we’ve described, and if you’re not sure how to tell, it’s always best to take your pet to a vet just to make sure.
How can I tell my pet has a tick and how to treat it?
When a tick releases it’s toxins into your pets’ blood stream it attacks the nervous system and starts to affect the pet as paralysis. Paralysis can be shown by a change of behaviour in your pet.
Symptoms in a dog can be:
- A change in bark/voice
- Gagging/retching/regurgitation or vomiting
- Changes in breath
- Wobbliness in the back legs/ walking on an angle instead of in a straight line
- Drooling or excessive salivation
- Not eating
- And other abnormal behaviour
Symptoms in a cat can be:
- A change in meow
- Breathing changes/ grunting at the end of a breath
- Gagging or retching
- Not eating
- And other abnormal behaviour
Ticks latch onto your pet by burrowing into their skin. If you attempt to pull the tick off it often wont budge as its barbs are imbedded in the skin and it heightens the risk of leaving the head behind which can continue to release the toxin. If you are attempting to remove a tick never pull the body, use a pair of tweezers or special tick removing tweezers to hold onto the head of the tick and twist to release the barbs. If you try this and don’t think you managed to pull the whole tick out, or don’t want to attempt to remove it yourself make note of the latch site and take your pet to your local vet. The vet can also show you how to remove the tick.
Again, take your pet to the vet call a mobile vet or home visit vet, if they are showing symptoms of paralysis but you cannot find a tick.
What can I do to prevent my pet getting a tick?
Obviously in the warmer weather your long-haired pets will need a shorter coat to keep them cool, but it is also so important to keep this maintained to make it easier for you to find the ticks on them.
A ticks’ habitat is most commonly bush or thick scrub, if taking your pet for a walk through any of these areas it is important to check them for ticks straight after the walk. It is also important to maintain lawns and plants around your property, especially in the areas that your pet tends to use as this will prevent your pet from getting a tick in your backyard. Also note that if you do yard work and trim back any plants while your cat or dog is around you will need to check them afterwards as a tick will be trying to find a ride and a meal if their habitat is disturbed.
A simple pat can be the easiest way to prevent ticks on your pets. Make a routine of patting your cat or dog every morning and night, make sure it is a thorough pat reaching every part of their body. Ticks love to nestle in warm untouchable parts of an animal’s body, they will often find a hiding place around or in your pets’ ears so be sure to give them a good ear rub/scratch. They can hide in the armpits or around the belly, your pet will love a good belly rub and a tickle under the armpits. The last place people think to look is between the animal’s pads on their paws, often because it is hard to keep hold of their feet, the more often you check these areas the easier it will get, not to mention your pet will love you even more as you’re making sure they don’t get ticks.
Ticks can be deadly to pets but they don’t have to be if you inform yourself about identifying paralysis symptoms, identifying a tick on your pet and maintaining a routine to check your pet, getting your long-haired pet groomed and maintaining your backyard.
If you are still unsure make sure you get in touch with your local vet and get informed on how to prevent ticks in other ways, how to check for ticks and how to remove a tick from your pet.