How Can I Protect My Dog or Cat Against Tick Paralysis

Ticks are commonly found attached to our furry friends. They will frequently use our pets as hosts as they drink the blood of animals and humans to satisfy their needs to survive. 

These nasty critters, which are from the arachnid family, are known not only for plaguing our pets but they are also recognized for spreading diseases and tick-borne illnesses. Babesiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF), Ehrlichiosis, Powassan (POW) Virus, Disease, Human Anaplasmosis (HA), Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness (STARI), and Tularemia are such examples of the diseases and illnesses. 

To help pet owners be more aware of potential threats that ticks can pose, we at Pestcom Pest Management would like to briefly relate an account that happened not too long in the northwest part of the U.S.

Case Study of Tick Paralysis in a Dog

After a camping trip, a couple noticed changes in their 10 yr old Sheltie. Different behaviors started to manifest within a week; their pet became lethargic, extremely weak, and would only eat if hand fed. Because of the abnormal and disturbing behaviors possessed by their pet, they rushed him to his veterinarian. He has undergone blood tests, urinalysis, and X-rays, and the vet was mystified as to what was going on. Their pet sheltie was paralyzed entirely as the days continued, and everyone was feeling helpless. 

It came to the point that the couple considered putting Sheltie down as his deterioration continued without a diagnosis, treatment, or signs of improvement. Until a vet student comforted the suffering dog and gave a little scratch behind the ear, the student found ticks feasting on Sheltie’s blood. 

They realized that all of the symptoms were caused by these ticks. Tick paralysis is rare and affects the nervous system because the specific ticks’ saliva contaminates the dog’s system over time. The tick still managed to attach itself even though Sheltie was wearing a tick collar. After removing the ticks, the couple rushed to the hospital after knowing that their beloved pet had already recovered.

Signs Your Dog or Coat Has Tick Paralysis

Though rare, all dog owners should know the symptoms of tick paralysis. One or more ticks can trigger symptoms, which will start to show within 6-9 days after the tick has attached.

Early signs of tick paralysis include:

  • Weakness, particularly in the hind legs
  • Vomiting
  • Unsteadiness
  • Regurgitation
  • Poor reflexes to complete loss of reflex
  • Partial loss of muscle movements
  • Megaesophagus, or an enlarged esophagus
  • Low muscle tone
  • High blood pressure
  • Fast heart rate and rhythm (tachyarrhythmias)
  • Excessive drooling
  • Excessive dilatation of pupils
  • Disorder of voice
  • Difficulty in eating
  • Complete loss of muscle movement or paralysis ( generally in advanced stages)
  • Asphyxia due to respiratory muscle paralysis in severely affected animals

Tick Infestation Removal

If you believe your pet has succumbed to tick paralysis, immediately take them to a vet and explain the symptoms. In addition to medical attention, you may contact Pestcom Pest Management to have your home and property treated for ticks to ensure no other ticks or viable eggs are present. Contact us today.

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