Tick paralysis is a condition where attachment of a tick results in paralysis. Once the tick is attached to the animal it feeds on blood and at the same time releases a toxin which enters the animal. The toxin interrupts nerve impulses causing progressive weakness and then paralysis.
Early signs include vomiting, a hoarse bark and weakness. As the condition progresses weakness becomes more severe and the dog will have difficulty getting up and walking. Eventually the toxins affect the muscles responsible for breathing. If you suspect your pet may be affected it is very important to get your dog to a veterinarian immediately.
If you are searching for a tick on your dog pay careful attention to the head and neck, including under the collar, in the ears and on the inside of the lips. If you find a tick on your pet’s body it should be killed first then fully removed from the skin. They are best killed using an insecticide effective against ticks such as Frontline.
Owners should check dogs for ticks daily, especially if they have been in regions where paralysis ticks are common.
Dr Adam Gorden, Maroubra Veterinary Hospital, quoted December 2005