Paralysis Ticks affect the nervous system by injecting a toxin which blocks nerves from firing. It takes an average of 4 days after the tick has attached to develop signs of paralysis, but can be between just 2 days and up to 7! Early signs of tick paralysis include change in voice, coughing, weak or wobbly legs (especially hindlegs), and going off food or vomiting. At North Coast Veterinary Services we recommend that if you see any of these signs you should do two things:
Searching for a tick on you dog, cat, horse or calf can be a challenge, follow these instructions for effective tick searching. Performing daily searches is recommended if you live in a Paralysis Tick area (like Brunswick Heads) and for 5-7 days after you leave a Paralysis Tick Zone.
How To Do a Tick Search?
To perform a tick search, work your fingers through their coat down to the skin and then systematically massage your fingers over the entire coat. You should concentrate on the animals front half as this is where they are more likely to occur. Make sure you check the edge of the lips, in skin folds, between the toes and in the ears.
Ticks are firmly attached and feel like a hard smooth round irregularity on the surface of the skin. You are feeling for small 3-10mm lumps, the size range of an attached paralysis tick. There may also be swelling around the tick, but not always.
If you think that you have found a tick, part the fur to have a closer look at it. Nipples, warts and other bumps on the skin are often mistaken for ticks and you should not attempt to remove them. Sometimes the tick has already become detached by the time that you are performing a search in which case you may only find a crater and swelling where a tick has been attached.
If you find a tick remove it and keep it for identification by your vet. Remove the tick with your fingers or tweezers at the level of the skin by grasping the head and mouthparts, take care not to twist or squeeze the body.
If you find a paralysis tick or a crater, or if your pet is showing signs of tick paralysis you should always contact your vet as a matter of urgency. Tick paralysis is frequently fatal if untreated and can worsen rapidly even after the tick has been removed.