Paralysis Ticks

What are paralysis ticks?

There are around 75 different species of ticks in Australia, but the most common are the brown tick and the deadly paralysis tick. The paralysis tick is by far the most dangerous parasite when it comes to your pet. It is commonly found in bushy coastal areas along the East Coast of Australia, from North Queensland to Eastern Victoria. Ticks are most prevalent from Spring to Autumn, however, can occur at any time of year.

When paralysis ticks attach to our pets, they inject a neurotoxin which causes progressive paralysis, respiratory depression, and death in animals which have no immunity to the toxin.

What does the paralysis tick look like?

Paralysis ticks can be identified by their grey body and legs close to the head. Their legs are the feature which best distinguishes them from other ticks that occur in the same regions. Paralysis ticks have one pair of brown legs closest to their head, then two pairs of white legs and then one pair of brown legs closest to the body.

It is not always easy to identify paralysis ticks. If the tick is not fully engorged, its body shape and colour will be hard to determine. Often, a veterinarian will be the only person who can accurately identify the type of tick; it is vital that you take your pet to a vet if you have found a tick.

What to do if you have found a tick on your pet?

Remove the tick immediately. Using your thumb and index fingers, gently pinch the section of your pet’s skin that the tick has attached itself to. Then, using tweezers, get as close to the skin as possible and firmly pull the tick out of the skin. 

Don’t panic if the head of the tick remains attached to your pet; without its body, the tick is unable to inject any more toxin. Place the tick into a jar so your pet can identify it.

Next, take your pet to the vet. Even if they’re not displaying symptoms of tick paralysis, it’s important to get them checked over by a professional.

Tick paralysis symptoms

  • affected coordination
  • weakness
  • collapse
  • vomiting or retching
  • change of bark or meow
  • difficulty breathing

Prevention

There are a number of parasite prevention methods on the market. Topical applications, rinses, sprays, and collars can aid in tick prevention, however, these methods do not 100% protect your pet. Regular tick searches, which involve running your hands through your pets entire coat (including down the legs, over their stomach, and to the tip of their tail) is recommended if you live in a tick-prone region. These methods, in conjunction with regular vet health checks, are your best bet at keeping nasty ticks away from your beloved furry friends.