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Tick Paralysis in Dogs

tick-paralysisTick bites can make dogs sick in a number of ways, but the most shocking disease that they transmit is called tick paralysis.  Some types of ticks carry a toxin in their saliva that disrupts the functioning of a dog’s nervous system after he has been bitten.  A dog will begin to show symptoms about a week after a toxin-carrying tick attaches itself.

Initially, a dog’s hind end becomes weak, his bark can sound different, he loses the ability to walk in a coordinated manner, and he may vomit, cough, gag, and breathe rapidly. At this point, the pet’s condition rapidly declines and complete paralysis can develop leaving a dog unable to walk, raise his head, or even breathe in the most severe cases.

Despite the potentially deadly nature of tick paralysis, affected dogs improve quickly once all ticks carrying the toxin are removed. Apply a pesticide to your dog that rapidly but safely kills ticks and remove them with a pair of tweezers.  Severely affected dogs will need to be hospitalized until they are able to breathe, drink, and eat on their own.

Most cases of tick paralysis can be prevented through the regular use of effective tick control products.

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{ 3 comments… add one }
  • Becky May 4, 2011, 6:59 am

    Sounds a lot like EPM in horses. What is the treatment??

    • admin May 4, 2011, 3:11 pm

      Tick paralysis and EPM can cause similar symptoms, but have very different causes and treatments. The former is caused by a toxin and the latter is caused by a microorganism. EPM is treated, with varying degress of success, with medications to kill the protozoa responsible for causing the disease and symptomatic and supportive care. Marquis is an example of an EPM medication.

  • charyn October 5, 2011, 7:54 pm

    I work at a vet hospital and we had a canine come in that had developed tick paralysis. we removed over 150 ticks and after about 5 minutes the canine was up and walking. It was amazing.

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