Tis the season..for ticks

Did you know that there are more than 800 species of ticks, with 70 of them being found in Australia.  The Paralysis Tick (Ixodes Holocycles) is the culprit responsible for causing a potentially devastating condition known as tick paralysis.  It can be found in bushy areas along the east coast of Australia from North Queensland to Eastern Victoria.  Ticks are commonly seen during the warmer months, from Spring to Autumn, however they can occur at any time during the year.

Ticks are wingless creatures that sense heat, carbon dioxide and other stimuli to locate the presence of an animal that will be their potential food source. Once located they crawl on and lodge their mouth parts into the animal's skin and proceed to feed on its blood.  Whilst ticks are usually found on the front half of the dog or cat, they can attach anywhere on the body, we have even found them in the ears, around the anus and in between toes.

As the paralysis tick feeds on its prey it injects small amounts of saliva, it is the saliva that contains the toxin that disrupts the connection between the nerves and the muscles throughout the body of the host.  This can cause weakness and paralysis, not limiting to just muscles that control movement but also those that involve breathing and swallowing.  Common signs of tick paralysis are weakness in the back legs, collapsing, uncoordinated, vomiting or retching, a change in bark or meow, and difficulty breathing. Tick paralysis is progressive and potentially fatal, in untreated animals death may occur within as little as 24 hours after symptoms commence.

Should you come across a tick on your pet remove the tick using your finger nails, tweezers or a tick-removing device to detach it from the skin. Always look for more than one tick. Unfortunately once a tick has been removed it is still possible for your pet to show signs of tick paralysis, so continue to observe your pet for a few days after removal.  If your pet does begin to indicate tick paralysis contact your veterinarian immediately.

To prevent ticks from attaching to your pet using a tick preventative product will be most helpful, there are now tick collars, preventative chews/tablets and spot ons available, ask our friendly nurses to help if you are unsure.  Though remember no product gives a 100% absolute guarantee so make daily tick checks a part of your pets routine. Who doesn't love a good massage?

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