Natural Prevention for the Australian Paralysis Tick
The east coast of Australia, in the main, is generally an exciting and fun experience. Although, there are times when we come across aspects that aren’t so much fun.
One particular issue that can harm both our beloved dogs and us, are ‘TICKS’, and in particular the Australian Paralysis Tick, Ixodes Holocyclus.
This tick lives along the entire eastern coast of Australia where it thrives in the warmth and humidity.
All ticks are nasty, but this little sucker is particularly vile and I would be quite happy for these particular nasties to be wiped from the face of the planet.
A Few Facts First
1. The tick is associated with the arachnid (spider) family.
2. It is a parasite to native mammals, livestock, pets and even people.
3. They are found in a variety of habitats across the humid coastal regions of eastern Australia, particularly wet sclerophyll forests and temperate rainforest areas.
4. They are opportunistic and wait on vegetation with their legs outstretched and waving slowly until they can make contact with their prospective host.
5. Larvae or “seed/grass” ticks are tiny (0.5mm) and found mostly in autumn and winter. After 3 different host feedings they then moult to the nymph stage which are about 1mm. Adults are most common from spring to midsummer. Usually only females bite people and other mammals. The bite is usually not notable but may rarely lead to paralysis, allergic reactions and tick typhus.
6. Paralysis Tick bites initially cause local itchiness and a hard lump at the site of the bite. With other more serious symptoms presenting themselves over number of days whilst the tick engorges itself.
These include flu like symptoms, rashes, an unsteady gait, weak limbs and partial face paralysis.
7. Other problems associated with Paralysis Tick bites are allergic reactions ranging from mild itching and swelling to potentially life threatening anaphylactic shock.
8. Children are the most susceptible to problems caused by ticks, as they may not be able to communicate that they have been bitten. Ticks could be feeding on them for a number of days, by which time their symptoms may be quite advanced.
A Helping Hand
Now I’m sure, like me, you can be pretty vocal when stung or bitten. It lets people know exactly that we need help.
But what about our animals?
Unless we have access to a DIY Dr Doolittle Course in animal speak, it is very difficult that you, or I, will be able to immediately detect that our furry friend is in a potentially life threatening situation.
So, what to do?
Well, the best cure is prevention. But which route do you go?
The conventional chemical way, effectively means that you are poisoning your dog against the possibility of being poisoned.
There are numerous of these preventatives on the market. You just have to look at the shelves behind the counters at your vets or local pet store to see the array.
The manufacturers all recommending how ‘safe’ and effective their products are.
So, being devil’s advocate, why have so many dog’s and cat’s health been adversely affected having been given this type of protection? Some even losing their lives.
Whilst researching for this post I came across interesting facts purportedly issued by the European Medicines Agency.
These guys operate as a decentralised scientific agency (as opposed to a regulatory authority) of the European Union. Its main responsibility is the protection and promotion of public and animal health, through the evaluation and supervision of medicines for human and veterinary use.
These facts had been used in a Facebook post to illustrate the potential side effects of using these manufactured products on our pets. You can view that FB post here.
Or natural prevention for the Australian Paralysis Tick?
Or how about the more alternative method using certain essential oils.
We are currently using Rose Geranium essential oil, which up until now seems to be doing the trick. Cedar essential oil is also supposed to be a very good deterrent although, to date, we have not used this product.
Now I’m not advocating that you should use one method or the other, it’s entirely your choice.
But what I would say is that before making your choice, become educated.
There is now so much information on the internet about the pros and cons on this subject.
Let Your Fingers Do The Walking
Another way to help your dogs is to manually check them on a daily basis.
I know that it can be a little time consuming, but what is 5-10 minutes out of your day in what might just be that life saving checkover for your four footed family.
But what if I forget I hear you say … and yes we’ve been there too.
Previously, having had a walk with Ash through particularly grassy bush, we did that exact same thing and forgot to check her over that night …. and guess what we found when we checked her the next day?
Yep, you guessed it, we found a very small but engorged tick (of the paralysis type) on the side of her neck. (This was actually before we started using essential oil for her protection.)
She hadn’t displayed any symptoms for us to notice that anything might be wrong.
We removed the little ‘biter’ with a ‘Tick Stick’, which then went for a swim down the loo.
We were lucky!!
…. and did we berate ourselves for not checking sooner? You bet we did.
We kept an eye on Ash for the next couple of days and fortunately she didn’t show any adverse signs from her tick encounter.
If your dog does display effects from a tick bite, please don’t delay and get to the vet as quickly as possible.
Although it is definitely worth contacting the vet first to ensure that they do stock the anti-toxin.
A Vet's Opinion
Whilst visiting relatives on the Mornington Peninsula, Tarryn and I came across a vet in Frankston, called Dr Edward Bassingthwaite, who has a Facebook page called ‘The Healing Vet’. He is a qualified vet who provides an Alternative and Holistic Health Service from his practice in Frankston, Victoria. He is wonderfully passionate about dogs and their health and an absolute mine of information and, funnily enough has a blog on ticks which you can access by clicking here.
You can read our Blog post ‘Our Dog’s Health & Wellbeing’ here where we address some of the other challenges you might face regarding keeping your dog safe, healthy and happy when travelling Australia.