As spring is upon us, your dog will be more likely to come into contact with ticks. So doing a thorough check is very important, as there is actually quite limited information on tick distribution,
and seasonality. But what we do know is that this condition of tick paralysis, Ixodes holocyclus and Ixodes cornuatus can be potentially fatal for Australian dogs. So now is the best time to perform these checks.
A study was conducted on the 3479 cases of canine and feline tick paralysis in Australia, using a real-time disease surveillance program. The risk factors of mortality have been identified and this study has generated a map of distribution. Utilising space-time permutation scans, gave a cluster analysis statistic to work with.
The study found that tick paralysis was distinctly seasonal, with most of the cases reported during spring. The majority of cases were located on the East Coast, New South Wales and Queensland, with one cluster in particular identified on the south coast of New South Wales. The breeds found to be at a significant higher risk of death due to tick bites were puppies less than 6 months old, or of a toy breed. For cat owners, no significant risk factors were found. But, dogs receiving chemoprophylactic treatment for tick infestation did experience tick paralysis during the products period of effectiveness.
With the risk factors for mortality identified, Veterinarians can determine a prognosis in cases of canine tick paralysis and potentially improve the treatment of cases. However, the prevention of tick paralysis via chemoprophylaxis is not 100% guaranteed across the whole population of dogs. Daily tick searches for pets are highly recommended in these risk areas such as New South Wales and Queensland, and especially during the Spring / Summer periods.
If you do come across a tick on your pet it is possible to remove it easily at home with the aid of special tick removing tools, or a steady hand and some tweezers. However if you are uncomfortable with the process, the tick has buried deep into your pet’s skin or you are a bit too nervous to attempt it, take your dog to your local vet clinic. Removing the tick partially and leaving behind it’s head can cause infection and be detrimental to your pet. If you do choose to remove the tick at home, applying some povidone iodine to the bite site prior to removing the tick can help to loosen the ticks head and helps reduce the risk of infection. Grasping the tick firmly at the base (the ticks head) with tweezers, or preferably a tick removing tool, a slight twist and an upward motion should remove the tick in it’s entirety. It is important to check the tick after removing it, to ensure it does have a head, if it does not, the head has been left in and you should take your pet to the vet immediately.
These instructions are to serve as a guide only and should the tick be embedded deeply, large or near your pet’s eyes or ears, it is advisable to take your pet to your vet clinic to avoid complications. If you are in-experienced or not confident in removing the tick yourself, take your pet to the vet. It is also very important to note that should you remove the tick successfully at home, it still does not guarantee that your pet has not already received toxins from the tick bite. Should your pet be old, young or small it is a good idea to take them straight into the clinic so your vet can do a thorough check of all their vital signs. If your pet demonstrates any signs of lethargy, vomiting, diarrhoea or abnormal behaviour after a tick bite, regardless of where it was removed, it is important to take it into your vet.