Tick Season

Sep 10, 2016

Pup in tall grass
Credit localpups [Flickr]

Ticks cannot fly; they climb tall grasses and weeds, then climb aboard your dog or cat as it passes by.  Keeping the vegetation (including bushes) trimmed around your house and in your yard will limit the tick population and give ticks less opportunity to climb up and hitch a ride on your furry buddy.

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September is the peak season for ticks. Those pesky little bugs hang out on twigs and tall grass, just waiting for a warm-blooded animal to pass by so they can hop on.

I remember the time we came home one evening to find our elderly mixed terrier unable to walk - her hind legs were almost paralyzed. She was alert, and didn’t seem to be in any pain. In fact, her tail was wagging. She just couldn’t walk. I was convinced she had had a stroke.

Our veterinarian met us at his clinic. Searching her skin inch by inch, he found and removed two small ticks in the thick hair at the base of her neck. He diagnosed her problem as tick paralysis, caused by a neurotoxin injected by some female American dog ticks.

Tick paralysis is not a disease, but really more of a neurologic reaction to the toxin. The treatment is simply to remove the tick, and the paralysis should go away with a day or so. If the tick is not removed, paralysis could progress to the lungs resulting in death from respiratory failure - so prompt action can save a pet’s life.

Tick paralysis is not limited to dogs - cats, children, and even adult humans are susceptible. And although the American dog tick seems to be the most common carrier, other ticks have also been implicated.

For our little terrier, the results seemed almost miraculous! By the next morning she was walking again, and by the following day she seemed completely recovered.

Tick paralysis is easily prevented by controlling the tick population in your yard and on your pet. So cut back that overgrown vegetation near your house, including the monkey grass. Talk to your veterinarian about the best way to keep you and your pet tick-free.

And give your dog (or cat) a good scratching. Your pet will enjoy the attention and you may just find an unwanted intruder in your best friend’s coat before there are any potentially deadly effects, when you’re speaking of pets.

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