Paralysis Ticks have moved to Canberra

September 28, 2017


There have now been several cases of tick paralysis in dogs that have clearly picked up the ticks in the local bushland in Canberra.

For many years Paralysis Ticks have inhabited coastal areas of Australia and have only posed a threat to pets visiting the coast or by being exposed to a tick that has been inadvertently transported back via luggage/camping gear.


 Ticks are a life-threatening parasite.  Once attached to your pet, they inject a neurotoxin produced in their salivary gland which enters your pet’s bloodstream resulting in paralysis.  Tick paralysis can be fatal to your pet in as little as 3 days so it is vital that you act quickly.


Early signs of tick paralysis:

  • Lethargy – sitting down a lot more than usual

  • Hindlimb weakness

  • Change in voice – bark or meow can be quieter or a different pitch

  • Coughing


Later signs:

  • Excess salivation

  • Vomiting

  • Staggering

  • Difficulty or loud breathing

  • Difficulty swallowing

  • Collapse


What to do if you find a tick or your pet is displaying symptoms:

  • Call the clinic to request an appointment as soon as possible or in urgent cases please bring your pet straight in.

  • If your pet is not displaying any severe symptoms and you feel confident, you can remove the tick by grasping with tweezers, or a tick remover if you have one, close to the head of the tick and using a slight twisting motion, gently pull the tick out then present your pet for assessment/treatment right away.  Take care not the squeeze the body of the tick as further toxins can be injected into your pet. 



Treatment – what we will do:

  • Thoroughly search your pet for ticks and remove any, if found.

  • Apply a topical tick treatment to kill any ticks we can’t find

  • Intravenous administration of  tick antiserum.

  • Admission into hospital for intravenous fluid therapy and if required, intensive care which may include oxygen therapy.

  • If your pet requires intensive care we may need to transfer them to the Emergency Hospital in the evening for overnight care.

  • Constant monitoring throughout the day and careful nursing to ensure your pet feels loved and as stress free as possible.


Prevention is better than cure

There are many preventative treatments available and we stock several of them at our clinic.  For dogs, we recommend Bravecto or Nexgard which come in the form of a palatable chew.  For cats, there are not really any products that are easily administered but you can use Frontline spray which is a treatment that you apply by saturating the entire coat of the cat.  We would advise that no tick product should be relied on 100% and that daily searching of your pet is still necessary.  You could find a tick anywhere on your pet’s body but more commonly than not they are found around the head and neck or on the front half of their body.  They like to get in under the collar and in folds of skin such as the armpits so please check there too.  Some have been found nestled in the folds of the ears or in between toes, one was even found attached to the gum of a dog.


What you need to know:

  • Pets can sometimes get worse before they get better – even after the tick is removed.

  • If your pet is a Hairy Mary, we may have to clip away the hair from parts or all their body in our quest to locate ticks.

  • Your pet may stay with us for up to a week.

  • We also have bush and cattle ticks around Canberra.  Below are images of those ticks to assist you in identification

These ticks are not life threatening but if you find a tick please bring your pet to us for assessment.













Image of unfed Paralysis tick vs fed tick:





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