PUP: Twelve-month-old Bushka was rushed to Isis Veterinary Clinic with signs of Paralysis Tick Poisoning.
PUP: Twelve-month-old Bushka was rushed to Isis Veterinary Clinic with signs of Paralysis Tick Poisoning. Ashley Clark

Vet removes 16 ticks from pooch after sickness

WHEN Bushka the 12-month-old german shepherd presented to Isis Veterinary Services this week, it was clear that something was wrong.

Veterinarian Jason Wyeth said the pooch was weak, unable to walk and had slightly irregular breathing patterns.

A quick check over and a tick was soon found - but it didn't stop there.

"We ended up shaving him and found 16 ticks," Dr Wyeth said.

"I've never seen a dog with so many ticks.

"One or two were quite engorged, signifying they had been there for a few days."

Dr Wyeth said it was a miracle the young dog survived the ordeal, with just one paralysis tick able to kill.

"Ticks secrete a toxin which causes paralysis," he said.

"This prevents animals from being able to move and breathe and swallow properly.

"A typical dog with 16 ticks I would've expected to have passed away or at least been very very sick."


The ticks found on Bushka.
The ticks found on Bushka.

Dr Wyeth said it wasn't known how Bushka caught so many ticks but said the critters could live in long grassed areas or be transferred from other animals.

"Bushka's owners live in a residential area with mowed lawns," he said.

"In the Childers region there are a lot of bandicoots, who are a well-known carrier for ticks, that often go into yards so that is what could have led to this situation."

Dr Wyeth said pet owners should look out for ticks by keeping check on their animals and any abnormal behaviour.

"One of the first signs is a change in a dog's bark - the tick's toxins alter the way the dogs use their voice box," he said.

"Breathing issues are also a big problem, especially on dogs with short noses who are often already compromised."

To remove a tick, Dr Wyeth said a simple grab-and-pull method worked best.

"They are reasonably easy to remove. You grasp it with your fingers," he said.

"It is generally not recommended to spray them with insectiside or put metho on them as there is evidence the tick will become more stressed and inject more venom into the dog.

"Even after removal, always seek advice from your vet and keep the tick in a jar so it can be correctly identified as a paralysis tick."


Not only is the paralysis tick (Ixodes holocyclus) one of the most common on the eastern seaboard, it's also one of the most dangerous threats to your dogs health, according to Purina.

Paralysis ticks are external parasites that suck blood from the host animal.

The tick's salivary glands is what produces the toxin that affects the nervous system of the host.

Once paralysis occurs, the animal is likely to die in within hours unless it is quickly treated by a veterinary surgeon with anti-tick serum.

After initial treatment it can still take 48 hours for the toxin to be removed so your dog can continue to deteriorate during this time.

Signs of tick poisoning include:

  • Wobbly in the back legs or unsteady on their feet
  • Change in tone of your dogs bark
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting or dry retching
  • Excessive salivation
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Coughing
  • Noisy panting