Tick Paralysis In Dogs All you need to know about Tick paralysis in dogs.

Tick Paralysis In Dogs

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Ticks are tiny parasites that live on the skin of animals. They feed on blood and transmit diseases to people and other animals.

In dogs, ticks can transmit disease-causing bacteria and viruses to the host animal. Some ticks also carry a toxin called alpha-gal (also known as galactose-alpha 1,3-galactose), which causes a condition called tick paralysis in dogs (and humans). Ticks that carry this toxin have also been found across North America, Europe, and Australia.

Tick paralysis is a rare but potentially fatal condition that can cause severe muscle weakness and difficulty breathing. The paralysis is caused by a toxin in the tick's saliva, which enters your dog's bloodstream through the bite wound. This poison travels up to your dog's brain, where it blocks signals from going out to muscles.

The symptoms of tick paralysis start anywhere from 1 to 10 days after being bitten by an infected tick. They can present like any other illness: lethargy, muscle twitching or cramping, loss of appetite, and/or fever are all possible signs that something is wrong with your pup.

What Is Tick Paralysis?

Tick paralysis is a condition that occurs when ticks inject a neurotoxin into your dog's body. The toxin affects the nervous system and causes muscle weakness, particularly in the hind legs. This can lead to paralysis and death if not treated quickly. It is rare but can be fatal if not treated. It can be easily prevented with tick medicine for dogs.

How Do Dogs Get Tick Paralysis?

Ticks are the most common cause of tick paralysis in dogs. A tick can transmit a toxin that causes paralysis, and any type of tick can do this. Ticks attach themselves to dogs, but they also attach themselves to other animals like deer and rabbits.

If you suspect your dog has tick paralysis, look for the following telltale symptoms:

  • Stiffness in their limbs. The first sign of tick paralysis is often stiffness or muscle weakness in the legs and back. Your dog may start to walk with an unusual gait or have trouble standing up.

  • Loss of appetite. If your pet's muscles are affected by tick paralysis, they may experience difficulty swallowing and eating food or water.

  • Difficulty breathing and drooping eyelids. As the disease progresses, it can affect your dog's breathing muscles leading to labored breathing, shallow breaths, and even respiratory failure if left untreated. So, it's crucial that you seek medical attention right away.

How Is Tick Paralysis Diagnosed?

The symptoms of tick paralysis are similar to other illnesses, so your veterinarian will want to rule out all other causes of paralysis before diagnosing tick paralysis. Your veterinarian will do a physical exam and look for ticks. If your dog has been bitten by a tick, there may be signs of it on their body. These include:

  • A red ring around the bite area turns pinkish-brown

  • Swelling at the site of the bite

  • An abrasion or open sore where you see hair loss

What Is The Treatment For Tick Paralysis In Dogs?

Treatment is usually successful. Treatment for tick paralysis in dogs may include: Supportive care to manage symptoms and keep the dog comfortable. Anti-paralysis medication (such as diazepam) will reduce muscle stiffness and help the dog recover faster from paralysis caused by ticks. This pet medication must be given daily for at least two weeks after the removal of the tick to be effective. Pet medicines like Nexgard should also be given for at least one week after symptoms have cleared up in order to prevent a recurrence of paralysis associated with tick bites in dogs that were not removed before they bit into them but were removed soon after they bite into them as this makes it less likely that they will suffer another bout of paralysis due to ticks. 

The Sooner You Notice The Signs, The Better

You'll know your dog has tick paralysis if it is showing the following symptoms:

  • Loss of balance and coordination, leading to weakness or paralysis in the hind legs

  • Paralysis of one or both eyes, causing them to roll back in their sockets or stare off into space

  • Drooling and difficulty chewing food due to weakness of the jaw muscles (this may indicate that your dog is having trouble swallowing)


Ticks can be easily prevented easily with the help of flea and tick medicine available at any pet pharmacy. Tick paralysis is a serious condition, but it can be treated if you know what to look for. The sooner you notice the signs of tick paralysis in your dog, the easier it will be to treat them. If you think that your dog is suffering from this disease, take them to the vet immediately.

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