Skip to content
Previous article
Now Reading:
Natural approach to treatment and prevention of tick paralysis in dogs

Natural approach to treatment and prevention of tick paralysis in dogs

How to keep ticks from attaching and spreading disease to your dog

Did you know ticks belong to the spider family? When you look closer, they indeed look like spiders with eight tiny legs and they also have an insatiable hunger for blood. Ticks are like the ‘kamikaze’ of spiders because they are much more daring than their bigger cousins. Instead of feeding on flies and other insects, they like to latch onto mammals and be carried miles away from their origin. They have evolved into stealthy biting machines, injecting anesthetic into their prey to remain unnoticed. 

Tick paralysis is one of the most dramatic and frightening conditions. One moment your dog is fine and a few hours later he or she may become completely paralyzed. If the condition is recognized and treated early, your dog will recover very fast. However, if you or your veterinarian fails to diagnose this problem correctly, the toxic paralyzing substance in tick saliva can, in the worst-case scenario, cause respiratory arrest and death.

This is why reading and sharing this article is so important.

This article includes information on the following:

  1. Cause of tick paralysis
  2. How does the tick toxin work
  3. Treatment of tick paralysis
  4. Natural methods of tick paralysis prevention

Cause of Tick Paralysis

Tick paralysis is caused by a salivary toxin that ticks release when they attach and feed on the host. There are different species of ticks that cause this condition and not every tick bite will cause paralysis.

The most toxic species, Ixodes Holocyclus, lives on the Eastern Coast of Australia, where the mortality of dogs with tick paralysis is around 10 percent.

The North American ticks transmitting tick paralysis are much less dangerous, however they should not be underestimated. The main species that causes tick paralysis in North America are Dermacentor andersoni (the Rocky Mountain wood tick) and Dermacentor variabilis, the American dog tick.

Tick paralysis often occurs in spring and early summer, but it can happen throughout tick season. Ticks are prevalent in certain regions, but they can be quickly transported to areas that have a low population. As a result, dog lovers and practitioners unused to seeing ticks and tick paralysis may misdiagnose the condition.

This is one of the reasons why I decided not to give you any maps or geographical locations of tick paralysis incidence. If you see ticks in your area, this condition is likely present and if you do not see ticks, the condition may be still present.

In some regions, ticks may also be active in the winter, but they usually stop feeding when the ground is frozen.

How does the toxin work?

The core principle of neurotoxin production is not clearly understood. There are some opinions that the toxin may be produced with the help of a microorganism residing in ticks. 

What we do know is the toxin is released into the blood stream when ticks are engorged. The injected neurotoxin disturbs the exchange of electrolytes, such as calcium, sodium and potassium in the muscle's cells. It also interrupts the connection between the nerves and muscles (the synapses), which leads to muscle paralysis. 

What is fascinating and frightening is the level of development of ticks as a disease carrier. It is hard to believe such a small and insignificant creature can cause symptoms such as partial or complete leg paralysis and difficulty breathing and swallowing. This can sometimes lead to aspiration pneumonia (lung infection due to inhaling food or water). 

Tick paralysis affects the nerve impulse transfer to the muscles, which leads to the inability of the muscles to contract, or paralysis. However, this condition does not affect the sensory nerves. In other words, your dog has skin and muscle sensation, however they cannot move their muscles.

[[advertisement product="tickhex-ad" /]]

Treatment of tick paralysis

  • The most important treatment of tick paralysis is to remove all ticks. The most common locations are around the head and ears, but ticks can be pretty much anywhere. Examining your dog inch by inch with a fine comb and tons of patience is crucial and can be life-saving.
  • You should start seeing improvement within 24 hours and a complete recovery in three days.
  • When it comes to the most toxic tick, Ixodes Holocyclus in Eastern Australia, an injection of TAS antitoxin (similar to tetanus antitoxin) is the treatment of choice. Removing the tick itself will not always result in recovery.
  • IV therapy, hospitalization, monitoring of urine output, breathing and body temperature is important. Because of the muscle paralysis, some animals may lose the ability to regulate temperature and may overheat or get cold.
  • In some severe cases, a ventilator to support respiratory function is needed and the overall mortality of this condition is approximately five percent, even when the dog receives the proper treatment.

Supportive therapy consists of boosting the immune system with canine-specific probiotics, plant-based minerals and green superfood and omega-3 oils, which are proven to have a strong anti-inflammatory effect.

Tick infestation and paralysis prevention

Many people are still unaware that conventional flea and tick products can be as equally harmful and dangerous as tick themselves. For more info, click here.

The other challenge is most conventional flea products don’t prevent ticks attaching, which doesn’t solve the issue of tick-borne diseases.

Ticks live in grassy areas and usually rest on a blade of grass and wait for the right opportunity to crawl on a host. Repelling and preventing ticks from attachment with natural tick products during the tick seasons (when the ground is not frozen) is an effective way to prevent tick paralysis and other tick borne diseases.

Finally, if you know you live in a tick-infested area, check your dog for ticks regularly to remove them as soon as possible. 

Here is a simple video on how to remove ticks safely.

© Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM 

About the author

Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM is an Integrative veterinarian, nutritionist and creator of natural supplements for dogs and people. Helping you and your dog prevent disease, treat nutritional deficiencies, and enjoy happier, healthier, and longer lives together.

Most Popular

  • Flying with dogs
    In my article, I share the personal story of how I'm able to fly with my dog, Pax, thanks to overcoming challenges with sleepwalking and night terrors. This unique experience not only allowed me to travel with my service dog but also serves as a reminder that even difficult situations can have positive outcomes.
  • dog and pony
    Successful communication is essential for building healthier and more fulfilling relationships and happier lives. In this article, I'll share with you 8 communication hacks to help you avoid unnecessary drama, prioritize active listening and address conflicts effectively.
  • Dalmatian eating fruit
    Can dogs eat bananas, apples, strawberries and other fruit? What about grapes? Find out what fruits are safe, toxic, and healthy for dogs. Learn about the potential health benefits and risks of feeding fruit to your canine companion, and get tips on the ideal time to feed it.
  • Illustration of the anatomy of a heart
    As dog lovers, we all want our beloved pups to live long and healthy lives. Protecting your dog's heart from potential health issues is important, and in this blog Dr. Dobias shares some key points that you might not yet be aware of, read on to find out what you can do to keep your dog's heart safe. 

Dog Health

  • Husky lying on blanket with heart toy
    Dogs have our hearts and that is why we need to protect their heart. Dog’s as they age often face muscle problems and spinal misalignment and you might be surprised to know how that can hurt their heart. Learn how to protect your dog’s spine and by extension their heart.
  • The secret ingredient for a perfect No. 2
    Dogs and humans have evolved side-by-side but they are still quite different when it comes to their digestive tracts and dietary habits. We have studied their original environments such as the soils of the African savanna and consulted with top experts in the field of probiotics and microbiology to come up with a combination that reflects healthy bacterial flora of canines.
  • Man being pointed at
    Criticism can hurt a brand, but constructive feedback can help it grow. In this blog Dr. Dobias talks about the differences between these approaches, and how to handle the power of influence and opinion with care. 
  • Broccoli with vitamins and minerals
    Are you worried that your and your dog's diet is missing something? Maybe you're worried about toxin levels in food, the environment, or flea and tick products. Let's face it; we can't remove ourselves entirely from our toxin-filled world, but we can do things to reduce our exposure to harmful substances. 

Human health

  • Dr. Dobias with Pax
    How do you navigate the seas of life? How do you deal with disappointment? Whatever life throws at us, we can always rely on our dogs to bring joy into our days. In this blog I share my thoughts on the support our dogs provide during the difficult moments in life. 
  • Why 1 in 4 Americans suffer from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)
    Learn more about the alarming prevalence of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) affecting 1 in 4 Americans. Discover its main risk factors, diagnosis methods, and treatment options to better manage or prevent this silent yet severe condition. 
  • A new perspective on brain health, memory loss, Alzheimer's Disease, and dementia in people and dogs
    The Science of DHA and the Brain: Omega-3 fatty acids, primarily DHA, are the unsung heroes of brain health. They play crucial roles in brain physiology and biological activities, with exciting links between Omega-3 levels and cognitive function. Higher DHA levels have been shown to preserve the integrity of the Blood-Brain Barrier (BBB), your brain's security system
  • Dr. Dobias and Pax
    It appears that most of the world is ready for change, but whenever I think about the solutions to any of the problems that plague our world, I can’t prevent myself from thinking that we humans are acting like little toddlers who have broken a toy and do not know how to fix it. Despite my generally optimistic attitude, I have had a hard time staying positive at times because I know how complex this all is. Read here for some tools that make me feel good about the world, which I would like to share with you.

News, stories and good life

  • Dr. Peter Dobias with his dog Pax on his lap
    Do you have trouble staying positive during difficult times? These days we are surrounded by a lot of negative messaging, and it's easy to let that get you down. Here are some of my tips for remaining positive, and don't forget to share your tips with me!
  • Man raising fist on a mountain
    Most of us have been exposed to panic-inducing information about the virus spread, however, I have noticed the general absence of one piece of information, how to make your immune system stronger and body more resilient. (It will definitely not happen by stockpiling toilet paper!) I have always loved immunology and the current situation has prompted me to put together two simple lists on how to increase your dog’s and your own immunity.
  • Man with dog wearing a collar
    Does your dog have ear problems, nasal or oral tumors, reverse sneezing or an  itchy head or hair loss on their head? Learn how you can address some of these problems and save thousands in vet care costs.
  • Terrier eating raw food
    Now there is no need to guess if there is something missing in your dogs diet.  The HairQ Test is a highly accurate test for mineral deficiencies, toxins and heavy metals in dogs to finely tune your dog’s diet and supplement schedule.



Your cart is currently empty.

Start Shopping