The Paralysis Tick (Ixodes holocyclus), Bush tick, Cattle tick and the Brown Dog Tick are the most common ticks in NSW. However, it is the Paralysis Tick that is by far the most dangerous as it can cause paralysis and death within 2-5 days of attachment. The natural hosts for the paralysis tick include koalas, bandicoots, possums and kangaroos but they can affect dogs, cats, cattle and horses.
Above: A fully engorged Paralysis Tick attached and feeding
SYMPTOMS: The Paralysis is caused by a toxin that is excreted when these parasites are attached and feeding. The paralysis caused can be fatal in domestic animals, both pets and livestock. Symptoms usually appear 2-5days after attachment then progress rapidly over the next 24-48hrs.
Typical early signs include:
Reluctance to walk
Weakness of the hindquarters
Loss or change of voice
Change in breathing or laboured breathing
If your pet is showing any of the above signs, do not offer food or water as these may be accidentally inhaled in tick-affected dogs.
It is not safe to assume that once the tick has been removed that your pet is out of danger as the toxin that has already been released will continue to circulate and attach to nerves.
DISTRIBUTION: Paralysis Ticks are found in all areas along the coast however the Hawks Nest and Barrington areas seem to be particularly bad.
Singleton is on the fringe of the tick area and although ticks are generally not found in town, they can attach to pets who visit tick prone areas during the warmer months. Ticks may also hitch a ride back with you or a neighbour in cars, rugs, towels or plants. We see many tick cases at Singleton Vet Hospital every year.
The following localities in the Hunter Region can be used as rough guidelines of where Paralysis ticks can be found:
•On Bridgeman Rd - from "The Big Post" onwards, including Lake St Clair
•On Mirranie Rd - from Westbrook Rd onwards
•On Gresford Rd - from Webbers Creek onwards
•In the hills around Stanhope and Lambs Valley
FINDING TICKS: It is best to conduct daily searches of your pet during the warmer months, especially after a visit to any of the above mentioned areas or a run through scrubby areas.
Use your fingers to feel over the entire body against the grain of the fur, especially under the collar, on the face and around the front of your pet. Don’t forget to check carefully between the toes, under the tail, corners of eyes, under the lips and in the ears. Don’t forget to check under the collar as well.
The tick may feel like a small wart or lump. Continue searching the entire animal for ticks as often more than one tick is found. If you are travelling in a tick area, search you animal daily for ticks and continue searching for 1 week after returning home.
REMOVING TICKS: Once a tick is found it can be removed with a tick twister (available for purchase at Singleton or Branxton Vet Hospital) or pair of tweezers. Squeezing a tick during removal will not introduce more toxin. A 'tick crater' will form at the site due to inflammation and there may be some discomfort when removing the tick.
If you find and remove a Paralysis Tick from your pet you should seek veterinary attention even if there are no symptoms at time of removal as your pet’s condition can still deteriorate quickly over the next 24 Hours. If your pet starts to display any symptoms such as vomiting, weakness, staggering, breathing difficulty, or altered bark/meow, consider it a genuine emergency and seek vet assistance immediately.
TREATMENT: Treatment of tick paralysis includes the administration of Paralysis Tick Anti-serum, and sedation to keep the animal quiet and calm. Searching for and removing all ticks may include clipping the animal completely if the coat is thick or matted, a tick bath or spot on treatment to kill any remaining ticks left on the body
Treatment can be costly considering there are many preventatives available.
PREVENTION: Please refer to our Tick Prevention Page for an overview on available tick control products.