Frequent What are the signs of tick paralysis in dogs? A Step-by-Step Guide


Tick poisoning is a serious and potentially fatal condition requiring urgent veterinary attention.

Frequent What are the signs of tick paralysis in dogs?

Ticks attach to dogs and cats (and people), secreting a paralysing toxin as they feed. Left untreated, treatement almost always leads to respiratory or heart failure.

This Paralysis is caused by a specific tick, lxodes holocyclus, which is found along Australia’s east coast and is especially prevalent around bushland like Sydney’s North Shore.

This grey-greenish coloured tick can be as small as a pinhead and as large as a thumbnail. The bigger the tick, the longer it has been on your pet, ingesting the blood and becoming engorged. The neurotoxins in the saliva that it secretes into your pet’s bloodstream cause the symptoms.

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).


Diagnosis depends on side effects and after finding an installed tick, more often than not on the scalp.

Frequent What are the signs of tick paralysis in dogs?

Veterinary clinics use a 4 -stage classification for Neuromuscular and Respiratory signs in a dog developed by Professor Rick Atwell. This allows the person assessing the animal to determine a score that helps monitor their progress or deteriorate.

Neuromuscular Score

Stage 1 Difficulty making mouth noises, weakness and incoordination but can still stand and walk. Best assessed walking up stairs.
Stage 2 Can stand but unable to walk
Stage 3 Cannot stand but can right itself
Stage 4 Cannot right itself

Respiratory Score

A Normal – no difficulty breathing
B Mild breathing difficulty
C Cannot stand but can right itself, has restrictive breathing, experiences gagging and retching
D Cannot right itself, difficult or laboured breathing, grunting, bluish discolouration of skin and mucous membranes

This classification method allows assessment to be consistent even when multiple people are working on an animal. Animals presenting in stage 3C-4D have a guarded prognosis.

Tick Paralysis: Signs and symptoms