Dermatology Pet Health

What You Need to Know – Tick Paralysis in Pets

What Is It?

Tick paralysis is a serious and life threatening condition affecting both dogs and cats in eastern Australia.

Caused by a tick which is confined to bushy coastal areas of QLD and NSW, the native host for this tick is the possum or bandicoot, so ticks are a danger wherever these are found.

The adult female tick is only a couple of millimeters in size when they attach to our pets. As these ticks feed and grow they also inject a toxin which causes the life threatening symptoms we see in our pets.

Prevention and Symptoms

Given the life-threatening nature of tick paralysis and the variable success rate of treatment, this places a critical focus on prevention for this condition.

Speak to our vets about the high risk times for tick paralysis in your area, usually from late winter through to early summer (August – February).

Our team can help you decide which preventative (tick collar, spot on or oral treatment) will suit you and your pet.

No preventative is 100% successful and daily searching of your dog or cat is critical throughout the ‘at risk’ months.

If your pet has a thick coat it may be wise to shave their coat early in the season to help with searching.

Symptoms develop gradually with increasing severity and include: excessive salivation (drooling) and vomiting, laboured breathing and a change of voice (loss of bark), elevated heart rate and blood pres-sure, weakness, and incoordination starting in the hind limbs and progressing up the body and com-plete loss of muscle control (paralysis), is seen in advanced disease state.


Unfortunately treatment of tick paralysis is very expensive and the results are variable.

Immediate and complete removal of the tick is crucial. This can be achieved using tweezers or tick twisters. Keep the tick for veterinary identification.

It is normal for a raised crater to remain after the tick is removed.

Once any found ticks are removed it is critical to seek veterinary attention as soon as possible.

We will use tick antiserum and if necessary hospital care to arrest the development of the paralysis and treat the resulting symptoms.

Check our website if you don’t want to have problems with ticks!

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