Kincumber Veterinary Hospital

02 4368-1727

Paralysis Tick Control

Paralysis Tick Control

The main tick of concern for pet owners is the Paralysis Tick (Ixodes holocyclus) as it can cause paralysis and death in pets. Paralysis Ticks occur naturally in certain geographic areas (mainly along the coastal eastern seaboard of Australia). They are found in long grass, and native plants and bushes. Pets who wander in these areas are at risk of Tick Paralysis. Most ticks are seen from the start of Spring, through to the end of Summer - although they can be found all year round in some areas. All at risk pets should be treated over Spring and Summer and potentially in the winter months also, depending on their environment.


If you notice a tick on a pet that is not displaying signs of tick paralysis, remove the tick straight away.To do this, grasp the tick firmly where it attaches to your pet’s skin and give a quick sideways pull. It is better not to try and kill the tick first as the dying tick may inject more of its potent toxin into your pet. If you are not confident removing the tick please call us immediately to make an appointment to have it removed.

Once the tick is removed your pet should be kept cool and quiet whilst being closely monitored for up to three days. If your pet starts to display any signs of tick paralysis, such as vomiting, weakness, staggering, breathing difficulty, or altered bark, seek immediate veterinary attention as this is a genuine veterinary emergency. 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.

Treatment of tick paralysis includes searching for and removing all ticks (this may include clipping the animal completely and/or the use of medication to kill remaining ticks). Pets are sedated, and often given medication to reduce the risk of a reaction to treatment. Tick antiserum is administered to counteract the toxin and supportive care is provided during recovery. Pets are often in hospital for up to 3-5 days, sometimes longer, requiring intravenous fluid therapy and other supportive care. Badly affected pets can require oxygen, or even life-saving artificial ventilation. This can be costly in comparison to what it would cost to use tick prevention initially. Sadly about 10% of pets with clinical tick paralysis will not survive the disease.

However, no tick prevention is 100% effective and should always be used in combination with daily searches of your pet. Searching your pet shouldn’t cease once you return from tick-affected regions but should continue for at least 7 days after returning home. Use your fingers running backwards through the skin to feel over the entire body, 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 lips and in the ears.

For information on which flea and tick protection products best suit your pet please come and speak to one of our staff, as there are several new products on the market.
We are more than happy to show you how to do a thorough tick search.