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208 Breeds, 422 Health Conditions  |  Find a Vet

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Tick Paralysis

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Condition Overview

The saliva of a variety of ticks contains a toxin that affects the motor nerves, producing weakness and paralysis.

Symptoms

Signs appear about one week after a dog has been bitten by the tick. Over the next 48 - 72 hours, the dog grows progressively weaker. Sensation to a pin prick is normal. In time, the paralysis reaches a level where the dog collapses and is unable to life their head. Death can occur from respiratory arrest.

Causes

A reaction to a tick bite can cause this rare condition.

Diagnosis

Presence in a wooded area suggests the diagnosis.

Treatment

Seek veterinary attention whenever a dog exhibits unexplained weakness. Most dogs show dramatic improvement with tick removal, but may need supportive care for a while.

Prevention

Tick paralysis can be prevented by removing ticks promptly from the dog and using the methods of tick control described here: Ticks.

Support

Please contact your veterinarian if you think your pet may have this condition.

Show Sources & Contributors +

Sources

Dog Owners Home Veterinary Handbook

Publisher: Wiley Publishing, 2007

Website: http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/

Authors: Debra M. Eldredge, Liisa D. Carlson, Delbert G. Carlson, James M. Giffen MD

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