Thursday, November 11, 2010

Cairns Pets still at risk from paralysis ticks

Cairns Vet Clinic is still seeing regular cases of tick paralysisParalysis ticks are present all year in Cairns but they are worse from June to December.  This year's paralysis tick season has been milder than normal due to the high rainfall through the "dry season" months.  During this period, Cairns Vets advise daily checking of your pet and protection with a product like Advantix for dogs or Frontline for cats.
Learn more about the symptoms of tick paralysis.
The Danger of Paralysis Ticks

The Paralysis Tick and the Brown Dog Tick are the two most common ticks on dogs. However, it is the Paralysis Tick that is by far the most dangerous. It causes paralysis in a variety of forms but a ‘typical’ case starts with weakness of the hindquarters that progresses to total paralysis of all four legs. Other typical early signs include an altered bark or meow and vomiting. When the chest muscles and muscles of the throat become affected, the dog or cat is in serious trouble.

When a Paralysis Tick affects a pet, the pet often dies. Preventing tick paralysis is a much safer and cheaper alternative than treating the condition once it has occurred.

Where and when does tick paralysis occur?   Top
The Paralysis tick is found mostly along the eastern coast of Australia, but has been reported in Western Australia as well. It can also be found inland in suitable habitats. Ticks need humidity and mild weather to develop and will not survive and breed in cold climates. In northern parts of Australia paralysis ticks may be found all year round, while in southern areas the season goes from spring through to autumn.

Searching your pet for ticks   Top
If you live in a tick-infested area, you should examine your dog or cat for ticks on a daily basis. If you have taken your pet for a walk through the bush or have been camping with your dog then examining it when you get back home is also a good idea. Don’t try to look for ticks, try to feel for them instead. Ticks are a lot easier to find if you rub your fingertips through your pet’s coat rather than if you try to look for them. In 70% of cases ticks are found in the head and neck region but it is important to search the entire dog (including inside ears, around eyes, under the collar, under lips, between toes, under the tail, chest, belly etc.)

The ticks are often grey in colour and all of the legs are bunched towards the front of the tick, not spread along the side of the body.

There is still some debate on the best way to deal with a tick once you have located it. However, research has confirmed that it's best to get the tick off the pet's body as soon as possible. A device such as the Tick Twister is designed for this purpose and can be purchased from your veterinarian.

The next step is to take your pet to your veterinarian. This is vital, as the residue of the tick’s toxin under the skin can really cause a problem. Although the tick has been killed or removed, the animal can still become paralysed from this residue of poison. The poison is slowly absorbed and may cause paralysis hours or even a day or two later.

Signs of tick paralysis   Top
  • Dogs and cats can often loose the control of the throat and voice box first, with regurgitation and vomiting common.
  • Hind leg weakness/paralysis is next.
  • The weakness/paralysis rapidly ascends up the spine towards the head with total paralysis occurring last.
  • Laboured breathing and grunting is common at this stage.

  • Preventing tick paralysis   Top
    Tick infestations can be prevented although tick control is easier on dogs than on cats. Also, manufacturers are releasing new products onto the market regularly to make the job easier and more reliable.

    There are several ways to minimise tick infestations.

  • Firstly, there are specific tick collars that are available. Bayer makes one called the Kiltix Tick and Flea Collar for Dogs and Virbac makes another under the name of the Preventic 2 Month Tick Collar for dogs.
  • Permoxin Insecticidal Spray and Rinse is also effective for ticks on dogs. It should be applied as a rinse every seven days. Permoxin also kills and repels fleas and mosquitoes.
  • Advantix for dogs is a new spot-on-the-back-of-the-neck product that both repels and kills paralysis ticks when applied every 2 weeks. It is also effective against brown dog ticks, bush ticks, fleas, lice, mosquitoes and sandflies.
  • For cats and dogs, Frontline is a good choice. Frontline Plus Top Spot is effective for ticks on dogs if used every two weeks (not every month). Frontline Spray is effective for ticks on dogs and cats if used every three weeks at the rate of six millilitres per kilogram of weight. If you find a tick on your pet, you can spray Frontline directly onto the tick to kill it.
  • Proban is an oral insecticide that is quite effective against ticks on dogs but needs to be used every two days rather than at the flea controlling dose of twice weekly. Some veterinarians also recommend Proban for ticks on cats at 1/4 of a tablet every two days. Because Proban is an oral medication that is excreted via the pet’s skin, it gives tick control over the whole of the pet’s body. When using sprays or rinses, it is possible to miss some areas, thereby allowing ticks to attach. This does not happen with Proban.
  • Fido’s Fre-Itch Rinse is also effective for ticks and fleas if the dog or cat is rinsed in it every three days. Fido’s is useful when your pet has been in a tick area and you want to bathe it to kill any hitchhiking ticks.
  • In tick prone areas, it is essential that your pets be searched daily for ticks. If this is done routinely, you can then eliminate tick paralysis because the tick usually has to be on the animal’s body for more than two days to cause paralysis.

    Don’t take chances with ticks. They are the most dangerous of parasites that can infest your pet and they kill. See your veterinarian and ask his or her advice on a safe tick control program for your pet.

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