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Kick That Paralysis Tick

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What to do when you suspect your furry friend has a tick...


In this week's New Bondi Vet, we meet six-year-old ragdoll, Pickles. The terms aren’t the happiest however, as Pickles the cat is showing signs of distress and unusual behaviour.

Upon examination, Dr Lisa Chimes from SASH discovers a paralysis tick hiding under Pickle’s fur. It is imperative the tick is quickly removed as if they are left on too long, they can eventually leave their host paralysed.

Paralysis ticks are commonly found in humid conditions, for example along the east coast of Australia. Their hosts usually include possums, kangaroos and koalas, however sometimes they find their way to our family pets.

The way a tick behaves is by injecting a potent toxin into the animal’s skin, which shuts down their nervous system. They suck blood from their host which results in toxins being released from their salivary glands and injected into the animal.

Paralysis ticks are usually grey in colour and can expand up for over one centimeter depending on how much blood they have sucked. The size of the tick is usually a good indication of how long the tick has been on your fluffy friend.

Signs and symptoms, as noticed with Pickles the cat include irregular behaviour, moaning, walking unusually, coughing, vomiting or reluctance to get up and move around.

It is important to act quick when noticing any drastic changes in behaviour or ticks on your pet's skin. The poison can shut down their whole system, and the pet may become paralysed. If the venom affects their lungs, it may have impact on their breathing which can be extremely dangerous.

As demonstrated by Dr Lisa Chimes, if acted quickly upon ticks can easily be removed. The next step is to give the pet a tick anti serum. This is similar to a snake anti venom. It makes it's way into the pet’s blood stream and binds to any of the toxins that’s circulating to prevent it from getting worse.

If you suspect your companion has been the victim of a paralysis tick, take them to your local vet immediately.

For more cat tips click here