Tag Archives: ticks

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Paralysis ticks have moved to Canberra!

Every year many companion pets die from tick paralysis. Until recently the risk of tick paralysis was confined to pets that visited the coast or contacted a tick brought back from the coast, for example in rugs or vegetation.

However, we are now seeing tick paralysis in pets whose owners have not recently travelled outside of the Canberra region.

Paralysis ticks appear to have developed the ability to survive the cooler, drier Canberra climate and whilst more prevalent from August to March and after heavy rain, ticks are a risk to pets all year round.

Paralysis ticks are capable of killing a pet within three to four days of attaching, so don’t delay.

Early signs include tiredness, staggering, vomiting, breathing difficulty, progressing to paralysis. The signs may continue to worsen even after the tick is removed.

Although most pets treated for tick paralysis survive, prevention is much safer and far less expensive. Tick prevention products vary between dogs and cats. They also vary in efficacy as well as length of protection. Please talk with our staff about the most suitable tick protection for your pet.

Not all ticks are dangerous. Bush ticks are occasionally seen locally but do not cause illness. The most effective action is, if you find a tick on your pet, bring it with you to the vet to be identified.

PREVENTION

 

TICK PREVENTATIVES

Newer products in the form of chewable tablets, such as NexGard and Bravecto are providing effective tick protection for dogs. The rinses and top spots that we previously used for dogs are less effective and can be toxic to cats that groom or have close physical contact with recently treated dog.

For cats, prevention options are more limited and we recommend Frontline® spray, although the Frontline® Plus top spot or Seresto flea collars may provide some protection.

DAILY SEARCHING

This is recommended even in pets receiving tick prevention treatment as none are 100% reliable. The ticks may attach anywhere but are more often found on the front half of the body.

 CLIPPING THE COAT

Trimming the hair assists in searching for ticks. Be prepared, if your pet has a long coat and presents to us with suspected tick toxicity, we may want to shave their entire coat to aid the tick search.

If symptoms of tick toxicity are noticed, a thorough search of the animal should be made and a veterinarian contacted immediately. Do not offer food or water to animals suffering from paralysis as their inability to swallow may cause an aspiration pneumonia.

Ticks can be very hard to find, so don’t rule out tick paralysis if you cannot find one. There may also be more than one tick on the pet. If a tick is found on a pet which is not exhibiting signs, remove the tick by firmly grasping the tick close to the skin and plucking it off. Keep searching and remove any other ticks.

So long as signs do not develop, there is the option to keep your pet quiet and cool for 24 hours. Please keep the tick in case it is required for identification.

If you are at all uncertain, call for an appointment and bring your pet in for a vet check. Depending on the case, we may recommend home monitoring, or monitoring for signs in hospital
+/- treatment with anti-serum.

TREATMENT

Veterinary treatment of tick paralysis includes:

  • Thorough searching and removal of all ticks. This may require clipping the coat.
  • Application of a tickicidal wash or spray.
  • Administration of tick anti-serum.
  • Oxygen supplementation if necessary which may require transfer to an emergency centre for overnight monitoring or ventilation.
  • Maintaining hydration using intravenous fluid treatment, until the pet is able to swallow and therefore eat and drink again.
  • Keeping the pet cool, relaxed and comfortable

WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF TICK PARALYSIS?

Signs of tick paralysis vary depending on the length of time the tick has been on the animal, as well as the potency of the toxin, which can vary between ticks.

Signs include:

  • A change in vocalisation
  • Increased or laboured breathing
  • Coughing
  • Excessive salivation
  • Vomiting or regurgitation
  • Weakness in the hind legs, which typically progresses to involve the forelimbs

IF YOU FIND A TICK ON YOUR PET CONTACT YOUR VET IMMEDIATELY

The toxin produced by paralysis ticks is very potent. Even when the tick is removed, most animals get worse before they get better. This is because the toxin already in the animal’s body continues to circulate and attaches to nerves for a period of time. Remove food and water as your pet’s ability to swallow may be compromised, putting your pet at risk of inhaling food and developing aspiration pneumonia.

Keeping your pets safe this Summer – Paralysis Ticks

Are you heading to the coast this summer? Tick protection is a MUST! Although most pets who are treated quickly for tick paralysis survive, ticks are capable of killing your pet within 3 to 4 days of attaching if your pet has not had any tick prevention.
REMEMBER: PREVENTION IS MUCH SAFER AND MUCH LESS EXPENSIVE THAN TREATMENT.
It is possible for ticks to be carried back in your luggage etc and attach to pets that haven’t travelled to the coast themselves so if you are heading to the coast and your pet is staying home they still need protection.
Protection for dogs is now more convenient than ever and is available in flavoured chews that cover for both Fleas and Ticks! Nexgard protects your dog for one month and is perfect for that one off trip to the coast for the weekend, Bravecto covers your dog from fleas for 3 months and ticks for 4 months and is perfect for those who travel to the coast more frequently.
Prevention for cats is slightly trickier (but still essential), please phone us on (02) 6230 2223 to discuss further.
Early signs of tick paralysis include tiredness, staggering, vomiting, breathing difficulty, change in the sound of their bark or breathing, progressing to paralysis, these signs may continue to worsen even after the tick is removed.
If you notice any of these symptoms your pet should be taken to the nearest Vet immediately.
Call us on (02) 6230 2223 and we can discuss the most suitable tick prevention product for you and your pet.

Exaggerated and irresponsible article in today’s Canberra Times

An article on a report published by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (AVPMA) in the Canberra Times today magnifies adverse effects in some animals to veterinary vaccines, flea treatments and other chemicals. It fails to mention the sickness, suffering and death prevented by these treatments in the vast majority of animals.

This morning we admitted an unvaccinated pup into hospital with parvovirus gastroenteritis. He is very dehydrated and is suffering severe abdominal pain. His chances of survival are 60:40. If he had been vaccinated he would not have developed this nasty disease. The vaccine is close to 100% effective in preventing parvovirus disease and only has to be administered once very 3 years to adult dogs.

Many hundreds of thousands of dogs are vaccinated every year and only a handful suffer any side effects. Most often the side effects are mild, a swelling at the site or of the face.

This summer is the worst for fleas and ticks in many years because of the high rainfall. Tick antiserum is in short supply and it is imperative that all dogs travelling to the coast are treated with a tick preventative and searched daily for ticks.

Advantix, permethrin spray and Frontline are the most effective tick prevention available. Compared to the number of dogs treated we see very few side effects. They are usually mild skin irritation or hair loss, and usually reversible.

Dogs infested with ticks die without tick antiserum and intensive treatment. Tick antiserum is far more likely to cause serious side effects than any of the preventative chemicals. Tick prevention is far better than cure.

Fleas and flea allergy dermatitis cause far more discomfort in far more dogs than the occasional side effect to any of the flea preventatives. Millions of doses of fipronil, imidacloprid and permethrin are applied every year but, as the APVMA reports, only a few cause side effects.  The benefits of flea prevention far outweigh the risk of side effects.

Each individual cat should have a tailored vaccination programme. Specialists from around the world debated the frequency of immunisation in cats at this year’s veterinary immunology conference. Factors affecting our recommendation for your cat include whether she goes outdoors or to boarding catteries, or how many other cats live in the household. We have not seen significant adverse effects to the vaccines in any of our patients but we often see very sick unvaccinated cats.

Feline AIDS caused by the cat immunodeficiency virus circulates in our outdoor cat population. It is incurable and reduces affected cats’ ability to fight off common infections and afflictions.  We see fever in the occasional cat on the day following the AIDS vaccination.

We see unexpected but occasional side effects with many things we give our pets. This article exaggerates the APVMA’s report and the likelihood of serious problems If you have concerns about any treatments you currently use please discuss the costs and benefits with your veterinarian first.