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Tick Paralysis in Dogs

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Lindsay Butzer, DVM
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What is tick paralysis?
Fleas are known for causing health problems for many dogs often leading to skin infections and other diseases. However, ticks are another parasite that is just as bothersome and potentially dangerous for dogs, especially with the possibility of developing tick paralysis.
Tick paralysis is caused by a toxin secreted by certain female ticks that affects the nervous system of dogs. The type of paralysis seen is a loss of muscle tone and weakness. In some animals, only the hind legs are affected, while in others the front limbs as well as the muscles of respiration can also be affected.

Symptoms of tick paralysis
Signs of tick paralysis usually occurs within one week of multiple tick feedings. Not only is paralysis of the limbs seen, but most dogs will also display symptoms of difficulty breathing, chewing, and swallowing. Even worse, death can occur rapidly within hours due to respiratory failure.

Treating tick paralysis
Treatment involves simple removal of the ticks. Although tick paralysis is a disease that is only occasionally seen and reported, it can be easily prevented by having your dog on appropriate flea and tick preventative medication such as Frontline Plus, NexGard Chewables or K9 Advantix II.

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