Mackay veterinarians like veterinary nurse Tammy Brassington and veterinarian Holly Goldring are bracing themselves for more cases like Shico, as the annual peak paralysis tick season. Picture: Lee Constable
Mackay veterinarians like veterinary nurse Tammy Brassington and veterinarian Holly Goldring are bracing themselves for more cases like Shico, as the annual peak paralysis tick season. Picture: Lee Constable

Vet's warning as deadly tick season begins

SHE did not meow, move or cry out in pain, but as soon as Sarina resident Brock Brandreth saw his cat Shico he knew something was wrong.

Mr Brandreth said he spotted his recently adopted domestic short hair cat lazing in her usual afternoon spot, on the roof of his ute.

He said he called for her to come inside, but alarm bells started to ring when all she could do was stare back at him.

Mr Brandreth said he waited helplessly, watching over his paralysed pet.

He took her to the vet the next morning when there was no improvement in her condition.

There they found the cause of Shico's illness - a bloodsucking Ixodes holocyclus, or paralysis tick.

Mr Brandreth said Shico was immediately administered a tick antitoxin to save her life.

"Shico spent three very long days in hospital," Mr Brandreth said.

Sarina resident Brock Brandreth with his cat Shico who was bitten by a paralysis tick.
Sarina resident Brock Brandreth with his cat Shico who was bitten by a paralysis tick.

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"Not knowing if your furry friend will make it through the experience was emotionally straining and devastating.

"To top off the heartache and stress of possibly losing Shico, the expense to save her cost me around $1000.

"Unfortunately, this means some pet owners may not be able to afford the treatment to save their mate."

After her trip to the vet, Mr Brandreth said Shico was back to her adventurous, happy, and healthy self.

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Hayley Green left and veterinarian Holly Goldring who encouraged pet owners to prepare for tick season. Picture: Peter Holt
Hayley Green left and veterinarian Holly Goldring who encouraged pet owners to prepare for tick season. Picture: Peter Holt

 

But Mackay veterinarians are bracing themselves for more cases like Shico, as the annual peak paralysis tick season gets under way.

Mackay veterinarian Holly Goldring urged pet owners to take steps now to prevent an expensive and sometimes heartbreaking trip to the vet.

"While pet owners are becoming more aware of tick paralysis in dogs, they're often surprised to learn we see multiple cases in cats as well," Dr Goldring said.

She said Mackay had a high prevalence of paralysis ticks during the season, which runs from September through to March.

"Too often I've seen the devastating outcome for both pets and owners when preventive paralysis tick treatments are not administered," she said.

"Don't leave it until it's too late, peak paralysis tick season in Australia is here."

Dr Goldring said it was estimated that at least 10,000 dogs and cats were presented to veterinarians for treatment each year, with many animals dying as a result of just one tick bite.

Mackay veterinarian Holly Goldring urged pet owners to take steps now to prevent an expensive and sometimes heartbreaking trip to the vet. Picture: Tony Martin
Mackay veterinarian Holly Goldring urged pet owners to take steps now to prevent an expensive and sometimes heartbreaking trip to the vet. Picture: Tony Martin

Here's how pet owners can avoid losing a beloved pet this tick season:

Provided by Better Pet Vets

Preventive treatment - Every at-risk dog and cat should have access to effective tick prevention.

Pet owners need to be educated on how severe tick paralysis can be and how effective treatments are in preventing this disease and its potentially fatal consequences;

Daily inspections - Daily inspection gives the best chance of finding a tick before severe symptoms develop.

Use your finger tips to feel your pet's coat.

Start at the head and work your hands down to each paw, ensuring you check every fold and between each claw for any lumps.

If you find a tick, consult your vet immediately so that they can show you the best removal method.

Symptoms - Dog and cat owners need to stay vigilant because death can occur if symptoms aren't noticed quickly enough.

Dogs developing tick paralysis typically show weakness of their back legs and a wobbly walk, which then progresses to total paralysis of all four legs.

They may also regurgitate food due to weakness of muscles in their throat and oesophagus.

Cats get agitated and develop an odd breathing pattern with a soft grunt as they breathe out.

Weakness is typically less obvious to their owners, at least in the early stages.