05 Oct No more Ticks
This week at Smart Pups….
As the weather warms up, and in some places at least, becomes humid and wet, I wanted to use this blog to give a timely reminder about the paralysis tick.
Any fosters or clients with placed dogs that reside on Australia’s East Coast are living in the natural range of the of paralysis tick. This range currently extends from Eastern Victoria (around Lakes Entrance), up the entire coast as far as Cooktown.
Ticks like bushy coastal and hinterland areas generally on the Eastern side of the Great Dividing Range. You don’t have to live on a bush block to have ticks. They have adapted well to suburban gardens and can be transported on domestic pets and on wildlife. If you see possums or bandicoots in your yard, you will also have ticks.
The paralysis tick is a serious and life-threatening risk to unprotected pets, dogs, cats and horses. Ticks feed on the blood of dogs while injecting saliva. This saliva contains a toxin that causes the connection between the nerves and the muscles throughout the body to become disrupted. This causes weakness, paralysis and if left untreated ultimately death as the muscles needed for breathing and swallowing are progressively weakened.
Luckily, we now have some excellent preventative medication available. The most effective of these are the systemic products such as Nexgard and Bravecto. The difference between these two brands is the duration of protection, but they both work in the same way, releasing a chemical into the dogs bloodstream that disrupts the central nervous system of invertebrates, but that does not harm mammals.
The advantages of this type of systemic protection over an externally applied chemical are numerous and include, rapid action, all over body protection, allowing for dogs to swim or be shampooed and easy dosing. Especially important for families with young children is the zero risk of chemical transfer from cuddling or touching your dog.
When giving a tick/flea chew mediation be sure to watch your dog to ensure all the chew is eaten, that the chew is not hidden under bedding or not swallowed. If your dog vomits within two hours of receiving the chew it will not be effective.
Don’t rely completely on these medications, please remember to search your dog regularly for ticks. The best way to do this is by running your hands through your dog’s coat, close to the skin and checking any raised bumps you feel. If you think that you have found a tick, part the fur to have a closer look, nipples, warts and other bumps on the skin are often mistaken for ticks. Concentrate on the front, chest, chin, legs, and head of your dog, as these are the most common places for ticks, but also check the hiding places such as between toes, in lips folds and under ears.
If you find a tick it will need to be removed manually either by using a tick twister or blunt ended tweezers. Grasp the head of the tick close to the dog’s skin and pull. Do not try to pull the tick by it’s body as you will cause it to release more toxin. Do not attempt to kill the tick by applying any products.
Because Nexgard and Bravecto kill ticks after they have attached to your dog you may find ticks on them, this does not mean the product is not working, but I still like to remove them. If you have removed a tick from your dog keep a close eye on them for signs of tick paralysis including:
• Poor coordination and weakness
• Loss of bark
• Vomiting or retching
• Difficulty breathing
It is best to let your dog rest in a cool place, without working, until you are sure the tick has not caused any issues. If you see any of the above symptoms seek immediate veterinary care or if a Smart Pups foster contact us on the emergency number.
Prompt and early treatment always has the best outcome. If you have a dog that is recovering from tick paralysis ease them back into full work gradually. The heart is a muscle and tick toxin can take many weeks to fully dissipate. Avoid strenuous activity especially in hot weather as this can lead to a relapse of symptoms.