Help… I think my pet has a tick!

As we head into the warmer months of the year, ticks once again start to become a problem for many of my patients.

What is a tick?

There are over 70 species of tick in Australia, but the paralysis tick is the most dangerous one for your pet. When the paralysis tick feeds on your pet, it injects a saliva which contains a toxin.

This toxin can induce allergic reactions or even cause paralysis and death within 2-4 days of attaching itself to your pet.

So it’s vitally important you understand how to prevent and search for ticks on your pet and how to remove them. It’s also good to know the symptoms of tick poisoning and how to safely remove them.

Search your pet for ticks every day. Search your pet thoroughly for ticks at least once a day. A mobile vet can come to your home and show you how to search your animal thoroughly for ticks and the best way to remove a tick.

The paralysis tick is usually about 2 – 10 millimetres long, and it can be black, brown or tan, but it may also look blue or grey if it is engorged with blood. Use your fingertips to feel through your pet’s coat, checking for lumps or craters on the surface of the skin.

While most ticks are found on the face, neck and ears, it’s still important to search your entire pet. Start at your pet’s nose and work your way back over his entire body, ending with the tail.

Remember to remove collars, and search in the ear, the eyes and lids, under the front legs, between each toe and examine all skin folds.

How to safely remove a tick

tick-removalIf you find a tick it should be removed immediately.

The best way to remove a tick is with a tick remover. This is a little plastic device that slides under the tick. Then when you carefully rotate the tick remover round the tick will come out intact head and all.

Don’t try to kill the tick with chemicals like kerosene or mentholated spirits, any form of alcohol, matches or petroleum jelly, as these can also cause the tick to release more toxins.

If you are unsure of how to remove a tick safely yourself, call us and we’ll come to your place and remove it for you.

Symptoms of tick poisoning

Call a mobile vet immediately if your pet shows any of the following signs:

  • strange-sounding bark or voice
  • moist cough
  • difficulty breathing or grunting noises when breathing
  • weakness, wobbliness or loss of coordination in their back legs
  • paralysis that starts with their back legs and moves through to their front legs
  • loss of appetite, vomiting or retching

Tick paralysis is a fast-acting condition that is potentially fatal and requires immediate veterinary attention. While you are waiting for the vet to arrive, keep your pet calm and comfortable, search for and remove any ticks, and do not feed your pet any water or food.

Prevention is better than cure

To prevent ticks apply a good quality spot on as directed by the manufacturer. Ask us about the best spot on for your pet. Be aware that many tick prevention products for dogs are highly toxic for cats, so never use them on or around cats.

You can reduce the risk to your pet by:

  • Keeping your grass mowed and your vegetation neatly trimmed
  • Avoiding visiting dog parks in areas known to have ticks during summer

Please call us if you would like a mobile vet to help you protect your pet from potentially fatal tick paralysis by showing you how to prevent, find and remove ticks.

Read more about tick and flea prevention

How Can I Help Your Pet?