Ticks ticks ticks…

We pulled a tick of our naughty, fluffy little dog monster yesterday. It\’s that time of year! The countryside is crawling with them, literally. I\’ve had two clients ring me in the last week with dogs who\’ve gone down with a tick. I\’ve had to send them both off to a veterinary hospital to have the anti-toxin. I\’ve also seen another dog very ill, flat out and paralysed. His dad couldn\’t afford the cost of taking him to get the anti-serum, but he did ring back a few days later to let me know he was very slowly improving. I was happy to hear it, as I didn\’t think he would make it. And I also saw a cat just in our street who was sick with a tick and had to go in for anti-toxin as well. Fortunately Mitzi happily jumped ¬†up onto our the bed this morning, so it seems like he\’s ok. I\’ll have to keep a close eye on him for another two days though. Your pets can get worse with tick paralysis symptoms for 2-3 days after removing a tick.

How can you keep your pet safe? The only truly effective method is to check your pet very carefully all over at least once (preferably twice) each day. If you massage your pet with your finger tips, you\’ll feel the bump of the tick, even if your dog or cat has a long coat. You should be doing this even if you decide to use chemical control methods such as a tick collar, or monthly treatments such as Frontline, Advantix, or Nexguard. (I don\’t stock Advantix or Nexguard. They are a little too risky for me, I\’ve seen dogs harmed badly by both of them. Then again, I have clients who\’ve used them over a long time with no obvious ill effects.)

I\’ve seen pets go down with a tick whilst on all the above tick preventions. They work, but only for most of the time! So please check your pets every day no matter what you use…

How can you tell if your pet is sick with a tick? The cat I saw last week, I knew had a tick straight away, because her voice was funny. Any change in your pet\’s voice is a big red flag. The tick toxin may paralyse your pet\’s larynx before anything else. So – they may refuse food and water in the early stages as well. Then they will get wobbly and progress to falling over or being unable to get up. Checking to see if they can go up and down steps ok is a good test if it\’s early in the progression. If they have trouble, there may well be a tick hiding on them somewhere (more about ticks ability to hide in a moment). If your pet gags or vomits at all, this is a sign their throat is getting paralysed – either without eating or drinking, or while eating or drinking especially. And they will often have an effort to breathe.

Finding a tick is not always as easy as you might think it should be. I\’ve seen multiple times in vet hospitals where 2, 3 or even 4 vets or nurses have checked a pet minutely, all over, before finally finding the tick. They seem to be able to hide themselves in plain sight, as if they have some sort of evil magic. So don\’t assume your pet doesn\’t have a tick just because you\’ve checked them several times and can\’t find one. Get someone else to check them, and then check them again and again yourslef. Ticks may attach on the lips or gums (inside the mouth), inside the ears, in between toes, in folds of skin, around the bottom (even very rarely inside the bottom).

It\’s best to get a tick effected pet to the vet sooner rather than later. They will respond more quickly to treatment if you do (symptoms sometimes worsen for 24-48 hours after administering the anti-toxin). I\’ve had a lot of clients treat with homeopathics, VitC etc. – by the time your pet is sick with a tick, these don\’t work so well, mostly.

It can be a good idea to consider pet health insurance, too, as a tick paralysis treatment in hospital will cost anything from $750 – $3000 plus. Some pets recover quickly, some will be in hospital for days and days, which means the bills can mount up. If you\’re not sure about what\’s going on, or what to do, please give me a call. I\’m more than happy to help you decide what you need to do!

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