Two Missoula, MT dogs wondering about ticks and tick paralysis.

What is tick paralysis?
Tick paralysis involves rapid motor paralysis caused by toxins in a tick’s saliva.

What symptoms should I be on the lookout for?
In dogs, tick paralysis most commonly presents as the sudden onset of leg weakness, changes in coordination, or difficulty breathing. Other symptoms may include changes in voice, gagging, or pupil dilation.

How is tick paralysis diagnosed?
Your veterinarian may be able to diagnose tick paralysis based on the symptoms and onset pattern, but most commonly tick paralysis is diagnosed when a tick (or tick crater) is found.

Tick on hand

Is tick paralysis an emergency? Can it be fatal?
Unfortunately, yes it can occasionally be fatal due to the potential involvement of respiratory muscles. If you are concerned about your pup (particularly if they are having trouble breathing), it’s best to get them checked out right away.

What is the treatment for tick paralysis?
First and foremost, the tick must be removed. Depending on the severity of the situation, your veterinarian may also recommend that your pet be kept for monitoring, put on oxygen, or administered medications depending on the progression of their condition.

How can I prevent tick paralysis?
Your first line of defense is to do a thorough check of your pup’s coat after being outside, particularly if they’ve been playing in the woods or tall grass. You can also talk with your primary care veterinarian about tick preventatives.

Reference: Merck Veterinary Manual