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Is your pet at risk of suffering from Tick Paralysis?

What is Tick Paralysis?

Tick paralysis is a serious life-threatening condition caused by the Paralysis Tick (Ixodes holocyclus).

Tick paralysis from Thornleigh Veterinary Hospital


The condition is caused by a toxin released by the tick as it feeds. A large range of species is commonly affected by paralysis ticks, including dogs, cats, farm animals, and even humans. The condition is marked by progressive paralysis, usually beginning in the hind limbs. As the paralysis progresses the affected animal often develops a range of respiratory dysfunctions, can eventually become completely recumbent, and sometimes ends in death.

How do I know if my pet is at risk of Tick Paralysis?

If you live on the East coast of Australia your pet is at risk of being affected by tick paralysis. The paralysis tick can be found right along the eastern seaboard of Australia through QLD, NSW, VIC and even Tasmania, but there are a number of extreme risk areas such as Northern NSW and Atherton Tablelands in Far North QLD. Local knowledge is invaluable in knowing what level of risk your pet is at and when the extreme danger periods are. Ticks can be found all year round but are at their worst from late winter through to early summer (August – February). If you are unsure of the risk of tick paralysis in your area then contact your local Vet. They are in the best position to advise on the danger in your area.

How do I know if my pet is suffering from Tick Paralysis?

It can take 3-5 days from when a tick first attaches to your pet until any signs are noticed and once a tick has been found and removed paralysis signs can continue and even worsen for a few days.

Initial signs

-       A change in vocal sounds. The bark or meow sounds become softer as if they have lost their voice.

-       Weakness in hind legs. Frequently stopping to sit down while walking.

-       Vomiting or regurgitation.

Further Signs

-       Wobbliness in back legs. Unable to walk properly or unable to walk at all.

-       Frothing at mouth and further vomiting. Excessive drooling.

-       Panting and sometimes grunting noises

-       Wet cough


-       Complete paralysis.

-       Difficulty breathing. Fluid on the lungs.

-       Gums become blue and cold to touch.

-       Death

What should I do if I find a paralysis tick on my pet or suspect it is showing signs of tick paralysis?

If you suspect your dog or cat may be showing signs of tick paralysis you should take them to your local Vet immediately. Even if the signs are only mild. If it is after hours go to an emergency center or use your local Vets after-hours number. All tick cases are emergencies and should not be left until the next day or over a weekend. The earlier you act the better the chances of a successful outcome.

If you find a tick on your pet the best thing to do is remove it. If your pet is not showing any signs of tick paralysis when you remove the tick they may be fine but remember there could be more ticks present and make sure you continue to watch them closely for the next few days because symptoms may develop even after the tick is removed. There is no need to kill the tick before removal. The easiest way is using specially designed tick removers such as the Tick Twister. Do your best to remove the whole tick but don’t be worried if the head detaches. It will not cause further injection of poison as some may think. If the head comes off and stays buried in the skin then use tweezers to pull it off your pet. Be sure to keep the tick so you can take it with you to the Vet for identification if needed. There are several common species of ticks that may attach to dogs or cats and many of them are harmless so identification is very important.

Tick Twister | DrCarl Pet Supplies

How do I prevent Tick Paralysis in my pet?

The only good news about tick paralysis is that there are a number of things you can do to help prevent it from occurring. However, it is important to remember that although some prevention methods are very effective nothing is going to give your pet 100% protection from paralysis ticks. So regular tick searches on your pet and know the early warning signs is essential. The best way to conduct a tick search is to systematically run your fingers through your dog or cat’s fur. Most ticks are found around the head, neck, in the ears, or on the front legs so be sure to concentrate your search in these areas. However, they can be found anywhere on the body so don't limit your search to these areas. Also, if you find one tick doesn't stop, there could be more.

Preventing Tick Paralysis in Dogs

Frontline Plus

When applied every 2 weeks Frontline Plus will spread across your dog’s body and kill any adult ticks present. Although it is water fast, your dog should not be washed within 48hrs after applying the spot on and effectiveness may be reduced momentarily following frequent swimming. So regular tick searches are still recommended.

Frontline Plus - Large Dogs 20-40kg

Frontline Spray

Frontline spray can be used every 3 weeks for protection from paralysis ticks. It is important to make sure you are giving the correct dose and it is applied correctly.

Frontline - Spray - Dr Carl Pet Supplies Australia


Advantix can be used to control paralysis ticks when applied every 2 weeks. Advantix is also water fast so it can also be used for dogs that like to go swimming. Advantix is highly toxic to cats. Do Not Use Advantix in Cats. It is also advisable to separate your dog and any cats when you apply the spot on until it is dry to touch on your dog’s coat.

Advantix - Dogs over 25kg Advantix - Puppies & Small Dogs up to 4kg Advantix - Dogs 4-10kg


Permoxin is a highly effective rinse for ticks of all life stages and can provide up to one week’s residual effect on dogs. Permoxin comes as a concentrate that can be diluted in water and applied as a leave-in wash or spray. Washing weekly and applying as a spray daily after walking in bushland can be a useful way of giving your dog added protection. Permoxin should also Not be used in cats.

Permoxin Rinse Concentrate

Tick Collars

Tick collars such as Adaptil and Kiltix collars are a cost-effective way of decreasing the risk of paralysis ticks on your dog. Preventic collars should be replaced every 8 weeks and Kltix every 6 weeks. The drawback with collars is that they apply a thin powder of chemical across the coat of your dog, which has a slight odor and will rub off on to anyone that comes in contact with the dog. Also, after swimming, it can take some time for the collar to replenish an effective amount of chemical across your dog’s coat and frequent swimming may deplete the collar’s chemical reserve prematurely.

Bay-O-Pet Kiltix Tick Collar for Dogs | Dr Carl Pet Supplies  Adaptil Collar Medium and Large Dog 70cm

Preventing Tick Paralysis in Cats

Frontline Spray

Frontline spray can be used every 3 weeks for protection from paralysis ticks in cats. It is important to make sure you are giving the correct dose and it is applied correctly.

Frontline - Spray

Frontline Top Spot

Frontline Top Spot is not actually registered for use to control paralysis ticks in cats but when used every 2 weeks it is likely to give some protection against ticks.

Frontline Plus - Cats (6 packs expire February 2021)

Fido’s Free-Itch Rinse Concentrate

Fido’s Free-Itch Rinse Concentrate can be used safely in cats to kill any ticks present and prevent any further attachment for up to 3 days.

Fido's Fre-Itch Rinse Concentrate

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