TICKS AND YOUR DACHSHUND by Hannah Prime
Paralysis ticks may be small, but the affects they can have on your dachshund can be enormous. Paralysis ticks are external parasites, that suck the blood of their hosts (marsupials, possums, cattle, horses, cats and dogs). Through which they can omit a potentially fatal toxin affecting the nervous system. Paralysis ticks can look different depending on whether they have fed and become engorged. They generally have a blue-ish grey colour to them. But this can be more difficult to distinguish when they are smaller than a piece of rice prior feeding.
People will generally associate ‘tick season’ with the summer months, although this is not true. Paralysis ticks can be found on your dachshund at any time of the year. Paralysis ticks are most prone to warm, bushy and humid areas of Australia. They love to linger in long grass- as this makes it very easy for them to attach themselves to your low riding dachshund. Imagine how close your dachshunds nose, ears, limbs and stomach are to the ground. All of the body parts ticks love to attach themselves to!
Prevention is the best form of a cure when it comes to your dachshund and paralysis tick protection.
– Ensure your backyard is not a ‘tick paradise’ by keeping your lawn cut short and removing compost piles. Avoid walking your dachshund in these types of areas.
– Check your dachshund for ticks EVERYDAY. This should be a thorough search, using your fingertips, right down to your dogs skin. Ticks thrive in warm spots, so extra time should be taken around skin folds, underarms, groin, inside the ears, and under the lip skin. Although ticks have been found inbetween toes, the tail and anus. So a thorough whole body check is required everytime. Tick searches must be performed regardless of tick prevention products being used. Ticks can grow dramatically in size within a number of days, so a tick that was missed the previous day can stand out the next.
– Keeping your dachshunds coat short will aid in tick searches, and provide higher visibility.
There are a number of tick preventative products on the market. Some are more suited and appropriate to certain lifestyles. To ensure your dachshunds highest chance of tick prevention, you should research each product, before deciding which is the product for you. Below are just a few of the most common and recommended tick preventative products available at your local veterinary clinic or pet shop.
– ‘Bravecto’ is a 3 monthly chewable, which helps protect your dachshund from paralysis ticks and fleas. It is highly palatable, and begins to work within 8 hours of administration. It can be given to puppies from 6 months of age, and they can swim or be bathed straight after. It comes in many sizes, and you only need to purchase 4 chewables for the whole year.
– ‘Nexgard’ is a beef flavoured chew, administered montly to protect your dachshund from paralysis ticks and fleas. It works within hours and can be given to puppies from 8 weeks of age. **Nexgard should not be given to dogs with a history of seizures. Contact your veterinarian to determine a suitable tick preventative for your dog**
– ‘Advantix’ is a 2 weekly spot on treatment to kill paralysis ticks and fleas. Advantix can be used in puppies from 7 weeks of age, and your dachshund can swim within 48 hours of administering the product. **Advantix is extremely poisonous to cats, and should not be used in households that have cats**
– ‘Scalibor’ tick collars are a 3 monthly collar, that are used to help protect against paralysis ticks. The collars are odourless, transfers through friction between your dachshunds skin, and is one size fits all. Puppies from 8 weeks of age are suitable to wear them. But be aware that the first collar applied will not become active for 2-3 weeks, so a further preventative product is required during this period.
– ‘Frontline Plus’ is a 2 weekly spot on treatment, applied between the shoulder blades. You must not wash or swim your dog until 48 hours after application. Puppies from 8 weeks of age may use this product. Frontline does not repel paralysis ticks, only affecting them once they feed on your dog. **NOTE- There have been many instances in which veterinary clinics have noticed Frontline Plus resistance in paralysis ticks throughout Australia. If this is the case in your area, you should trial another product, to see if it is more effective for your dachshund.
– ‘Frontline Spray’ is a topical spray to be used every 3 weeks. It can be used from 2 days of age, and helps protect your dachshund from paralysis ticks and fleas. Administration is by simply spraying your dachshunds body and rubbing it in (with gloves as it contains Isopropyl Alcohol). The amount of pumps required will depend on the weight of your dachshund (Eg 100ml bottle is 6 pumps/kgs).
You should not rely on these products, as no product is 100% effective. Instead they should be used WITH other preventative methods e.g daily tick searches.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU FIND A TICK ON YOUR DACHSHUND
Many believe that if you find a tick on your pet, you should leave it- this is NOT true. The longer the tick is attached to your pet, the more toxins it can secrete. Tick hooks are available from veterinary clinics and pet shops. This is the most reliable way to remove a tick, otherwise a ‘grip and twist’ motion can remove them. If the head is left attached, do not panic. The tick will die and be unable to inject more poison. It may leave the area swollen, much like a beesting. Your local vet will be able to treat this, when you take your dachshund to see them immediately after removal. Tick patients should always seek veterinary attention. You should never attempt to treat a tick envenomation yourself, as tick symptoms can be prolonged, but your dogs condition can deteriorate quickly. You may not always find a tick, but instead a ‘crater’ like wound in your pets skin. Even if a tick has detached, your dog can still suffer paralysis.
SYMPTOMS OF TICK PARALYSIS
– Change in voice (barking, howling, whimpering) can become softer or muffled. This is the neurotoxin beginning to paralyse your dog.
– Weakness in the back legs, lethargy and/or limping.
– Vomiting (froth especially)
– Wobbliness of hind legs
– Excessive salivation
– Reluctance to stand/move at all
– Total paralysis
– Exaggerated and laboured breathing
– Grey/blue gums
I HAVE FOUND A TICK ON MY DOG- WHAT SHOULD I DO?
Remove the tick, and keep your dog as calm as possible. Call your local veterinary clinic immediately and tell them you are on your way, that way they are able to prepare the appropriate equipment and medications prior to your arrival. On your way to the clinic, you should have someone continually searching for further paralysis ticks on your dachshund. The vet will assess your dogs condition. DO NOT give your dog any food or water. Due to paralysis effects, your dog may aspirate the food/water (inhale rather than swallow) causing severe breathing difficulties or aspiration pneumonia. Depending on your dogs condition your vet will administer tick anti serum, IV fluids, oxygen therapy, sedation to reduce excitement and stress which can worsen a tick patients condition, medication to reduce excessive salivation, anti emetics for vomiting, anti biotics for pneumonia risks, continued tick searching and total body clip if required.
** Any dachshund with paralysis/mobility problems should receive immediate veterinary treatment, as a precaution to IVDD **
While in hospital, your dachshund will receive multiple tick searches daily, oxygen therapy if required, IV fluids for dehydration and vitamin supplementation and all necessary medications. Recovery has been known to take over 7 days. Discharge from hospital should not be rushed. Your dachshund should not return home until all vital signs are within normal limits, your dachshunds gag reflex has returned, they are able to walk and they are able to eat small meals. Taking note that every patients recovery is different, and may take longer. Always follow your veterinarians discharge instructions, and monitor your dachshund closely.