Veterinarian Dr Ray Austin minutes before he removed a paralysis tick attached to Bootsy’s throat.
Veterinarian Dr Ray Austin minutes before he removed a paralysis tick attached to Bootsy’s throat. Rodney Stevens.

Early start to tick season

WAKING up to find your usually boisterous nine-month-old dog paralysed would put fear into the hearts of most people.

Unfortunately this will become reality for many Clarence Valley pet owners this summer with vets predicting an extreme tick season.

We woke this morning to find our nine-month-old boy, Bootsy, with his back legs paralysed and the tick's toxin taking hold.

Our 23kg border collie's breathing had started to become affected by the poison as I arrived at the vet clinic.

Northern Rivers-based vet Dr Ray Austin said cases of paralysis ticks had been reported this year in May, more than three months earlier than usual.

"Typically in June you may see one or two cases in the month. This June we were seeing a case every couple of days," he said.

He said the humid, wet weather had contributed to a rise the tick population in the region.

Symptoms of paralysis tick poisoning include loss of appetite, vomiting or dry retching, excessive salivation, difficulty swallowing, difficulty breathing, coughing, a change to the animal's bark, noisy panting and difficulty swallowing.

Left untreated by a vet the animal will suffer limb weakness, starting in the hind legs and progressing to the front legs, incontinence, laboured breathing, and finally it will slip into a coma.

For most people tick bites don't pose major problems.

But in some cases a person can have an allergic reaction to the toxin and in extreme cases be paralysed.

Dr Austin said searching your pet every day during tick season could prevent a bad case of paralysis tick poisoning.

Paralysis ticks have a pale grey to dark blue-grey body and are typically most active from August to January.

Brown ticks have a red- brown to cream body and bush ticks have a brown to dark blue or grey body.

All species are most active from August to March.


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