The saliva of a variety of ticks contains a toxin that affects the motor nerves, producing weakness and paralysis.
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.
A reaction to a tick bite can cause this rare condition.
Presence in a wooded area suggests the diagnosis.
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.
Tick paralysis can be prevented by removing ticks promptly from the dog and using the methods of tick control described here: Ticks.
Please contact your veterinarian if you think your pet may have this condition.
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