Lesson Learned

I have a husband and three kids.  I often grumble and complain about them but I would find it hard to survive if I lost any of them.  They make my life complete.

I also have two dogs.  Louis and Jayda.  I often grumble and complain about them but I would find it hard to survive if I lost either of them. They too, make my life complete.

Our pets bring us so much joy and are a massively important part of our family.  But I didn’t realise just how much until a couple of months ago , when we nearly lost our girl, Jayda.

Living in Cairns, Far North Queensland is a tropical paradise but it also has a hidden danger lurking in the grass, in the foilage, in the trees.


To be precise, paralysis ticks.

And a couple of months ago precious girl Jayda picked up a couple of paralysis ticks and could very easily have died.

Every two weeks we give our Canine “kids” an application of Frontline Plus or Advantix.  It protects Dogs from Fleas for a month or from Ticks for two weeks.  In order for the dog to remain completely protected from Ticks,  the medication must be applied on the skin behind the neck on the same day every two weeks.

But money has been a little tight.

And we got a little complacent.

Before I knew it, the dogs were more than 2 weeks overdue for their tick treatment.

My hubby had taken the dogs for a walk and let them have a run off lead through some bush land. Later that night as we watched TV we found a tick on the outside of Jayda’s fur.  My hubby then checked both Louis and Jayda over thoroughly for any more ticks and he couldn’t find any more. She seemed fine so we felt lucky that we had escaped so lightly.

With this near miss, I planned to get the tick medication the next day. Unfortunately it was the Saturday I was rostered to work a half day, so my hubby had to stay home with the kids, and Mr J had a birthday party to go to, so I had to drop him off on my way to work, and pick him up from the party after I finished.

After I picked up Mr J I got a phone call from my Mum to say that they were on their way to visit – so I stopped in at the Pet Shop to get the Advantix and stopped off at the cheescake shop so that we to pick up some afternoon tea.

When I got home, my husband said to me, “Jayda’s acting strange, she’s been off her food and she doesn’t seem like herself”.

“Do you think she has another tick?” I asked.

“I have checked her and checked her and I can’t find any” he said.  “She looks ok but she just seems a bit off”.

I tried to see what he meant but she was so excited that I had arrived home and she was really happy so it was hard to tell.  Then Mum and my Stepdad arrived.

I put the tick medication on her and then made a pot of tea. We were halfway through a cup of tea and a piece of cake when it my hubby noticed that she was starting to breathe with sighs and although she was able to walk she did seem a little weaker in her back legs.

“I think she may have a tick”, I said. “You’d better call the Vet and see if we can bring her down to get her check out”.  The Vet said to bring her down straight away, so Mum and my stepdad finished their cup of tea and cut their visit short so that we could go.  We got the kids in the car and left for the Vets straight away.

Jayda really, really hates going in the car, and even though it only takes 10 minutes to get to the Vets from our house, she became very stressed.  My husband nursed her on his lap to try to keep her calm but as her anxiety rose, her breathing became worse and worse.  We later found out that this is one of the things that the tick posion does to their bodies.

We got to the Vet and after waiting for about 10 minutes, it was Jayda’s turn to get checked.

After less than a minute of searching the Vet found the paralysis tick on the side of her neck.  My husband was beside himself because he had checked her over so thoroughly but he had not been able to find it.

The Vet explained to us that Paralysis ticks don’t feel like a ‘bump’ on your pets body like cattle ticks do. They burrow into the skin and the skin raises up around the tick so it feels like a slightly raised area. So you need to rub the skin underneath their fur gently with your fingers to try to find an area that is slightly raised and possibly sore when you touch it.  Spread the fur and you will feel / see that it is raised and very inflamed.

We were told that Jayda would need to stay at the Vets.  He would rinse her with Fido’s Tick Wash and begin her treatment.

We thought we would be in for a bill of a couple of hundred dollars – an injection of anti-venom and everything would be ok.

We were wrong.

The toxin doesn’t just paralyze the dogs legs.  It affects their nervous system and affects their ability to breathe.  It affects the function of their lungs.  They cannot separate water from the air and begin to drown. They need to be kept quiet and calm and they need to be closely monitored.

We found out that steps involved in the treatment of tick paralysis usually are:

  • Sedation
  • Removal of all ticks and repeated searches
  • Administration of anti-tick serum
  • Cage rest
  • Monitoring of bladder function.
  • Other treatments such as fluids, oxygen, suction etc.

We had to make an upfront payment of half the expected bill.  My jaw dropped to the floor when I they told me the estimated bill was going to be 800 dollars.  It could be more, it could be a little less.

I was in tears.  We only had just over $400 combined in our bank accounts – so it it cost us almost every last cent that we had before they could begin the treatment. We would have to find some way to pay the other half when we picked her up.  I phoned Mum from the Vets in a blubbering mess – luckily for me she agreed to lend me the money for the remainder of Vet bill when Jayda was ready to be picked up.

Some dogs do not recover from paralysis ticks.

We consider ourselves to be very lucky.

Jayda recovered well and I was able to pick her up after a couple of days.

But she had to be kept calm for two weeks, which meant I had to take her to work with me so she wouldn’t run around and get excited.

We have learned our lesson.

We won’t be letting the tick medication lapse again.

We also have fido’s rinse on hand.

Each second friday night we bathe the dogs in fidos rinse, before applying the tick medication on Sunday night or Monday morning.  Fido’s rinse will kill any ticks on contact and prevent reattachment for up to 3 days.

It was an expensive lesson yes – but the worst part was thinking that we could lose our precious Jayda – not knowing whether we would be bringing her home.

We feel very lucky to still have her in our lives.

Please Note – This is NOT a sponsored post.  I decided to post this because it is one of the worst tick seasons there has been and I hope that my experience can help one person prevent paralysis ticks from affecting their pets.