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Paralysis Tick Prevention

Over the years, as new paralysis tick prevention products have come and gone (does anyone remember Proban?), I have often been asked by clients which product is the best choice for their pet.

Many different factors go into choosing a paralysis tick preventative, such as:

  • What is currently available on the market

  • How much each option costs

  • How each option is administered - topspot, chew, tablet, injection

  • Where the pet lives (the Northern Beaches is a global paralysis tick hotspot!)

  • How often the pet is outside

  • The potential impact a paralysis tick could have on the pet

  • How the pet receives other preventative medications, such as their heartworm prevention

As you can see, a customised recommendation is always best. However, as a general overview, here are my top tips for choosing a product for your pet:

On the Northern Beaches, choose something over nothing

Although the product choice can be overwhelming, and many are worried about the toxicity of such products, in our local area you just cannot take the risk of not using a tick preventative. Paralysis ticks are extremely toxic themselves and can rapidly cause fatal paralysis of the muscles required for breathing, swallowing, walking, and urinating. In addition, even if your pet does survive an episode of tick paralysis, the effects on your pet's heart muscles and their ability to regulate their body temperature can persist for six weeks following toxicity.

Some pets, such as squashed-face (bracycephalic) dogs & cats, and those with underlying health conditions, have an increased risk of death. Some pets are also just naturally more sensitive (or more resistant) to paralysis ticks, so it is a gamble how your pet will be affected.

Once treatment with the tick antitoxin is commenced your pet will still deteriorate over the next 24 hours, as the antitoxin only binds with the toxins still in the blood stream, not those already attached to the nerves, so it can be challenging to predict how your pet will go.

In short, it is a rare patient to whom I recommend against paralysis tick prevention of any kind.

Look at the bigger picture when it comes to multi-products

Minimise the impact on your pet's liver

Be confident in your choice

So what's the bottom line with product choice?

As you can see, it's a very personal decision. As with almost all things in holistic veterinary medicine, individual variations matter. My own young healthy Corgi, Freddie, is on Bravecto every 3 months, plus an annual heartworm injection. I don't worry about regular intestinal worming, as he doesn't eat raw offal or wild meats (only the air dried versions). Johnny, my 8 year old Labrador who is in remission from cancer, also receives Bravecto every 3 months, though he is on a regular milk thistle supplement. If he wasn't, I would use one around the time of administration, due to his age & health conditions. I would be equally happy with a plain monthly tick product for them, such as Nexgard or Simparica (not a multi, like Nexgard Spectra or Simparica Trio), but with my busy life currently it is easier to rely on a longer lasting product.

One of my cats, a 12yr old Domestic Shorthair, Benjamin, receives a Bravecto topspot every 3 months. I am especially vigilant with his cover, even though he rarely goes outside, as he has a heart condition (hypertrophic cardiomyopathy) making him more vulnerable to the effects of paralysis ticks. My other cat, an 11yr old Domestic Shorthair, Susan, is on monthly Revolution Plus, as Bravecto causes an irritated patch on her skin & some fur loss.


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