Tick Paralysis

In a tick emergency, time is of the essence. Contact us if you are unsure.

NEVS Emergency Vet Hospital is available 365 days of the year, including public holidays.

Sydney’s North Shore and Northern Beaches are a tick haven, particularly during spring and summer. Tick poisoning requires urgent vet attention, so if you think that your pet is exhibiting symptoms, don’t hesitate to bring them to Northside Emergency Veterinary Service.

In a life-threatening emergency such as this one, you want to choose a vet with years of experience treating thousands of cases of tick poisoning each year.

Call us today in the case of an emergency!

Tick Paralysis Treatment

During the warmer months, our emergency vet hospital treats up to 100 pets per week for tick poisoning and up to 40 cases over a single weekend. The weather patterns of the Northern Suburbs of Sydney are ideal for ticks and vigilance is required to prevent tick poisoning.

In the event of an emergency, the qualified and dedicated staff at NEVS will administer expert tick paralysis treatment at our after-hours vet clinic in Sydney.

While each case is individual, our veterinarians will typically:Person pulling tick out of dog with tweezers

  • Administer a sedative, especially for cats
  • Perform multiple tick searches
  • Administer a tick antiserum designed to neutralise the toxin
  • Monitor the pet closely during the stay
  • Monitor bladder function, often helping with manual expression of the bladder
  • Provide additional treatments if needed, like intravenous fluids (if severely dehydrated), sedation (to keep your pet calm), oxygen, and checks for potential pneumonia

All animals are individuals and react differently to the stresses of tick toxin. Young, old and weaker pets are more vulnerable. We will likely have to keep your pet for 2 to 3 days in the hospital.

Tick Paralysis After-Care

After a couple of days in our animal hospital, your pet typically goes home with instructions for limited stress and exercise. They should be kept calm, cool and confined for a further 2 to 3 weeks. Small frequent meals and fluids are better than one large meal a day. Make sure you check that your pet is urinating freely, not just ‘cocking his leg’. Preventative measures must be taken to ensure that your pet doesn’t get tick poisoning again.

What is Tick Poisoning?

Tick poisoning is a serious and potentially fatal condition requiring urgent veterinary attention. Ticks attach to dogs and cats (and people), secreting a paralysing toxin as they feed. Left untreated, tick paralysis almost always leads to respiratory or heart failure.

Tick 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 tick’s saliva that it secretes into your pet’s bloodstream cause the symptoms.

Symptoms of Tick Poisoning

Tick paralysis and poisoning symptoms typically include:

  • Heavy breathing (panting, noisy breathing and possibly grunting)
  • Coughing
  • Vomiting
  • Heavy salivation
  • Wobbly legs (especially the back legs – dogs tend to sit but not stand)
  • Collapse

If you suspect your pet has tick poisoning, act immediately by calling our emergency veterinary clinic on 02 9452 2933.

What to Do in the Event of Tick Poisoning

Stay calm! This is the most important thing you can do for your pet, as tick-affected animals cope poorly with stress or overheating.

Contact us immediately and arrange to bring your pet in. Do not wait until the next morning. Remove any visible ticks with a tick hook or tweezers (and search for more ticks if one is discovered) and try to keep your pet relaxed, quiet and cool.

IMPORTANT: Do not offer your pet food or water. The toxins mean your pet cannot protect their airway when they swallow and the food or water may run straight into their lungs.

It is important to seek emergency care even if you remove the offending tick(s). The toxin typically continues to poison your dog or cat and timely treatment is still required.

How to Prevent Tick Poisoning in Pets

Vet applying tick prevention treatment to dog to prevent tick paralysis.In order to prevent this painful and debilitating illness in your cat or dog, here are a few tips for prevention:

  • Search your pet daily for the presence of ticks, especially in the summer months in Sydney. Make sure to remove their collar while checking, too.
  • Ask your vet about drugs and sprays that prevent tick attachment and poisoning. Your vet can tailor suitable tick prevention for your pet based on its breed, size, lifestyle and age.

CTA: For more information on preventing and treating tick paralysis in your pet, call the Northside Emergency Veterinary Services team on 02 9452 2933 or contact us online.


Treating many thousands of emergencies every year, our 24-hour veterinary clinic is known for its world’s best practice for tick paralysis treatment. With decades of experience, we are responsible for significant advancements in the treatment of tick paralysis, especially in the area of ventilation.