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What are Tick Paralysis?

Your dog’s risk depends on a variety of factors, including the prevalence of ticks in the environment. In the areas of the southern United States, ticks prevail all year; while in areas with colder winters, ticks thrive only in the spring and summer. Tick paralysis is most common in the southeastern United States, the Pacific Northwest, and the Rocky Mountain states. Your dog’s risk factor depends more on your environment and behavior than on breed. Toxicity does not directly correlate to the number of ticks found on your dog or their size, but rather depends upon the individual tick and the dog’s susceptibility. The exact pharmacology of the specific toxins that cause tick paralysis is yet to be determined, but they work by inhibiting the release of presynaptic acetycholine at neuromuscular junctions, leading to paralysis.

Tick paralysis or toxicity is an acute motor paralysis caused by neurotoxins produced in the salivary gland of certain species of ticks. The toxins cause lower motor neuron paralysis, or a loss of voluntary muscle movement.

Tick Paralysis Average Cost

From 14 quotes ranging from $1,500 - $5,000

Average Cost

$2,100

Symptoms of Tick Paralysis in Dogs

Your dog may display the following symptoms, which will worsen over time. Symptoms begin to display between five to seven days after the tick attaches itself to your dog. If you see your dog beginning to display any of the following, particularly if your dog has been in an area of heavy vegetation or exposed to other animals, seek veterinary help immediately.

  • Vomiting
  • Trouble standing/sitting still
  • Muscle weakness
  • High blood pressure
  • Fast heart rate, or tachyarrhythmia
  • Partial loss of muscle movements, or paresis
  • Complete loss of muscle movement, or paralysis
  • Poor reflexes or loss of reflexes
  • Dilation of pupils
  • Excessive drooling
  • Asphyxia
  • Difficulty eating
  • Impairment in vocal sounds, or dysphonia
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Causes of Tick Paralysis in Dogs

Tick paralysis is caused salivary neurotoxins from an engorged, egg-laden female tick of the following species: American dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis), Lone star tick (Amblyomma americanum), Rocky Mountain wood tick (Dermacentor andersoni), Deer tick or Blacklegged tick (Ixodes scapularis).

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Diagnosis of Tick Paralysis in Dogs

Prompt diagnosis depends on your thorough reporting of the onset of your dog’s symptoms, as well as any potential incidents that could have led to your dog picking up ticks. Be sure to report if your dog has recently been in thick vegetation in the last several days or weeks.

Further physical examination will be conducted to determine the extent of your dog’s muscle paralysis. Your dog’s muscle tone will be analyzed physically, and reflexes will be tested. Decreased or absent deep tendon reflexes are a sign of paralysis.

The veterinarian will perform a thorough physical examination in order to find ticks or evidence of tick bites. Any ticks that are found will be removed, and the veterinarian will often send them to a laboratory for species analysis. It is important that the veterinarian is the one to remove ticks in the case of tick paralysis, because they will ensure every part of the tick is removed and no further toxins are affecting your dog.

To rule out any other diseases that may be causing your dog’s symptoms, a blood count measuring white and red blood cells, a chemical blood profile measuring blood sugar and proteins and urinalysis measuring kidney functions will be taken and analyzed for abnormalities. In the case of respiratory muscle paralysis indicated by trouble breathing and/or elevated carbon dioxide and decreased oxygen levels found in the blood, radiography may be used to examine the size of your dog’s esophagus: an enlarged esophagus is a sign of labored breathing.

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Treatment of Tick Paralysis in Dogs

In the majority of cases, removal of ticks from your dog will lead to a reduction of symptoms within 24 hours and total recovery within 72 hours. Your dog may be given an insecticidal bath in order to kill any ticks that may have been missed (particularly with a heavy coat or other factor that may hinder finding all of the ticks). While tick paralysis is very easy to treat, untreated, it can lead to death by respiratory paralysis. For this reason, it is imperative to seek treatment immediately.

Depending upon the extent of tick paralysis at diagnosis, your dog’s symptoms may need to be treated in order to aid recovery. In severe, advanced cases, your dog may need to be hospitalized and treated for stress with a tranquilizer or opiate, dehydration with intravenous fluids, fatigue with anesthesia, vomiting with antiemetic therapy, heart or respiratory distress with ventilation, or congestive heart failure with diuretics and oxygen therapy.

If your dog ends up in a state of severe dehydration, intravenous fluids will be given immediately. Alongside intravenous fluids, medications will be provided that can be used to counter the effects of the toxins on the nervous system, and to relax your dogs muscles so that they can breathe.

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Recovery of Tick Paralysis in Dogs

When diagnosed in time and properly treated, there is a 95% chance of total recovery. Even with treatment, there is a chance of death, which increases with the amount of time your dog is infected with the toxin and left untreated.

During recovery, keep your dog in a cool and calm environment and avoid physical activity. If your dog is still having digestive problems, follow your veterinarian’s feeding instructions carefully. This may involve withholding food until the stomach settles, or feeding via syringe.

In order to prevent further cases of tick paralysis, keep your pet on preventative medication during the appropriate season, or all year round, depending on your climate. Check your pet for ticks regularly, and particularly after they have been in heavily vegetated areas. If you have a yard your dog regularly plays in, keep up with landscaping in order to discourage tick infestation.

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Tick Paralysis Average Cost

From 14 quotes ranging from $1,500 - $5,000

Average Cost

$2,100

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Tick Paralysis Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Princess

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Blue Heeler

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10 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Ehrlichiosis
Peeing In My Bed

My 10 year old dog was tested two Days ago and I received a call saying she didn’t test positive but didn’t test negative either for Ehrlichiosis. She is not showing any signs. They are going to treat her anyways Incase otherwise my other option was to just wait and gamble and retest in 3 weeks. Is this a good thing she isn’t showing signs? Does this mean I caught it early? Will my pup be okay? I’m so scared.

July 31, 2018

Princess' Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Without knowing more about what might be going on with Princess, I have a hard time answering your questions, unfortunately. Since your veterinarian knows what is going on with her, what signs she is having and why they were concerned about tick borne diseases, it is very reasonable to call them and get more information and ask more questions about her condition, what possible things might be happening, and what to expect.

July 31, 2018

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Shadow

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Mix

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6 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Vomit
Breathing Funny

Dog had tick on him and I removed it, wasn’t head in yet, put alcohol on it and iodine....before removing tick dog had vomited twice and wasn’t acting himself, after removal of tick he vomited and is breathing a bit heavy and restless

June 19, 2018

Shadow's Owner

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0 Recommendations

There are various issues which may arise from being bitten by a tick which may include issues from the saliva to any bacterial disease the tick may have been carrying (varies depending on your location). Keep an eye on Shadow, but if the vomiting continues, other symptoms present or you live in an area with known tick borne diseases visit your Veterinarian immediately. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

June 20, 2018

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blacky

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terrier cross jack russ

dog-age-icon

4 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Cant Move Back Legs.

hi my dog blacky over a day or 2 got very week and was shaking then his back legs stop working and was dragging them with his is front legs and falling over a lot :( a week or 2 ago i took 2 ticks off him and 1 was very large. i stayed up all night with him he seemed in a lot of pain and his belly was swollen and peeing himself :( he did 2 really big poos the morning b 4 this thu :) i took him to vets and they have had him about 30 hours now they did a x ray and said his spine is fine but want to do mri scan but cost 1200 pound i can no way afford that :( i ask if i can pick dog up but they said no i feel like im been blackmailed. but i want my dog to get better and not be in pain like he was that night i stayed up with him. the vets have never mentioned Tick Paralysis. i dont no what to do. the vets said they a trust fund that mite help pay or i can pay a bit each week. what do u suggest i do

May 26, 2018

blacky's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

If Blacky has lost the use of his back legs, sooner is better then later to have an MRI, but the purpose of the MRI is probably to see whether he can have spinal surgery to help him. They should factor that cost into his treatment plan so that you are prepared for it. Otherwise I'm not sure that there is a point to the MRI. If you are able to have the MRI, and surgery if needed, if he were my dog, I'd make payments, but that is a decision that you will need to make. I hope that he is okay.

May 26, 2018

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TINY

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Chihuahua

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14 Years

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Labored Breathing
No Energy
Lathargic
Trouble Walking
Balance Issues
Fast Heart Rate

MY 14 YR OLD MALE Chihuahua SEEMS TO BE SUFFERING FROM TICK PARALYSIS. WE FOUND SEVERAL TICKS ON HIM AND BELIEVE WE HAVE THEM ALL OFF NOW. THE LAST ONE WAS A VERY LARGE ENGORGED FEMALE ON HIS NECK. THIS WAS 3 DAYS AGO AND HIS SYMPTOMS HAVE BEEN GETTING WORSE. WE CANNOT FIND ANYMORE TICKS ON HIM. HIS SYMPTOMS ARE LATHARGIC MOVEMENTS, BALANCE ISSUES, WONT BARK,AND SEEMS LIKE HE HAS LABORED BREATHING. HE HAS NO VOMITING SYMPTONS AND WILL STILL DRINK WATER. HE WONT EAT HIS DOG FOOD BUT WILL EAT PEOPLE FOOD AS LONG AS IT IS BROKEN INTO VERY SMALL PEICES. WE HAVE NO MONEY FOR A VET AND NOT SURE WHAT WE CAN DO. IS THERE ANYTHING WE CAN DO OURSELVES TO HELP TREAT HIM?

April 24, 2018

TINY's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

There is, unfortunately, nothing that you can do at home for Tiny - he needs medical attention. Ticks can carry many diseases that affect the blood cells, and Tiny may need help for that. He may also have an unrelated condition, and without examining him, it is impossible for me to diagnose him. Many clinics do offer a 'free first exam' that would allow you to at least have him seen and discuss what options there may be for treatment. I hope that he is okay.

April 24, 2018

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Tilly

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Cavalier Cross Maltese

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8

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Mild severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

My dog is an 8 year old cavalier and has recently been administered to a vet regarding tick paralysis, her symptoms were the third eyelid had begun to appear, she couldn't use her back legs and was struggling to sit up, she was groaning and gagging but only vomited once. The vet said they had given her two doses of the anti-toxin and within 9 hours showed no progression but did not deteriorate either. Her blood count ratios were erratic so they gave her something for clotting. I have a general idea of what this all means but I would like to know a bit more about what is happen to my dog and what the chances of her survival are given the circumstances.

Nov. 21, 2017

Tilly's Owner


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1 Recommendations

Generally in most cases, a dog will improve within 24 hours of the tick being removed (depending on the species of tick) with recovery occurring within 72 hours or so; some cases do deteriorate more and it is dependent on how long the tick was attached, time symptoms showed before visiting your Veterinarian and treatment given. The article below is interesting and covers many things. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.msdvetmanual.com/nervous-system/tick-paralysis/overview-of-tick-paralysis

Nov. 21, 2017

6 months old GSD is suffering from paralysis or partial paralysis of hindlimb and gradually spreaded towards frelimbs , lots of meds have been given from last week , if its the tick paralysis as it seems , how can i start treatment for my pup

Aug. 2, 2018

Anit S.


My 10 year old dog was tested two Days ago and I received a call saying she didn’t test positive but didn’t test negative either for Ehrlichiosis. She is not showing any signs. They are going to treat her anyways Incase otherwise my other option was to just wait and gamble and retest in 3 weeks. Is this a good thing she isn’t showing signs? Does this mean I caught it early? Will my pup be okay? I’m so scared.

July 31, 2018

Jessica S.


Ledum palustre 1m strenghth....Google it. Worked for my dog

Jan. 7, 2018

Joanne F.

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Breezie

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American Pit Bull Terrier

dog-age-icon

5 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Paralysis
Paralysis Drooling

My dog had tick paralysis all symptoms cleared up in about 10 days. The only symptom she has left is she still drools from the side that the tick was on I was wondering if this is permanent? She acts just like she did before the paralysis but drools not all the time but she has never drooled before.

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miles

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Siberian Husky

dog-age-icon

11 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Cant Get Up
Cant Get Up And Hard To Move

he is a huskey and had lime disease and he has the episodes where he cant move or it is hard to move and he just tries to get up and we have to go over and pet him and help him calm down and it is not just nightmares or things like that it is in the middle of the day. he is not my dog he is my uncles

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Owen

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Labrador Retriever

dog-age-icon

6 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Lethargy
Inability To Walk
Falling Over
Non Verbal

My Labrador is 6 years old and has had a hard time walking for the past five days. He now keeps falling over and can’t stand or use the restroom without falling down. We went to the Emergency and they said it may be a neurological disorder or tick paralysis. I haven’t found any ticks on him, but I’ve never giving him any topicals to prevent against them until now. Leaving the hospital I applied Frontline Plus, gave him the prescribed prednisone, and Gabapenton, but I’ve yet to see any response. It has been 48 hours since leaving the hospital, and I’m worried he isn’t going to get any better! Could this be tick paralysis, even if I can’t find a tick?

Tick Paralysis Average Cost

From 14 quotes ranging from $1,500 - $5,000

Average Cost

$2,100

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