This Season’s Perfect Storm for Ticks

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Tick paralysis is a deadly and common disease affecting dogs and cats in Australia. It is very common over the spring and summer months and is far better to be prevented rather than treated. This article shows ways to keep your pet safe and healthy this season.

As temperatures begin to rise, the North Shore could be heading towards a perfect storm when it comes to tick infestations. Pet owners are urged to act now to protect their pets from ticks, especially the deadly paralysis tick.

“Ticks thrive in warm and moist conditions. With the likelihood of above average temperatures and rainfall in Queensland and NSW1, we are urging pet owners to be vigilant this season in protecting their dogs against ticks,” Dr Chris Boulton, veterinarian from Gordon Veterinary Hospital said.

“To help pet owners on the North Shore we have created a guide called Surviving Tick Paralysis” Dr Boulton said. “It really shows people what to look out for and what to do. It is a great resource that you can download off our website for no charge.”

During the recent Australian Small Animal Veterinary Association Conference,on the Gold Coast, researchfindings were presented that showed ticks grow bigger and stronger during hot and humid seasons and are potentially more toxic to dogs.

“This means we can expect a significant rise in the number of fit and healthy ticks out there ready to infest our pets. Unfortunately it also means that we expect to see more cases of severe tick paralysis this season,” Dr Boulton said.

The paralysis tick, Ixodesholocyclusis the most common tick found along the East Coast of Australia and once attached presents a life-threatening risk to dogs and cats.

They are commonly found in long grass or scrub and tend to attach to the head and neck region of the pet, but can be found anywhere on the body. The ticks release a toxin during feeding and have been known to kill dogs within 48 hours, so prevention is the best cure.

“Last year we saw 200 or more cases of tick paralysis in our hospital. We can treat dogs and cats for tick paralysis, by using an anti-venom and intensive supportive therapy, but unfortunately we aren’t always successful in saving their lives,” Dr Boulton said.

The duration of tick season depends on climatic conditions and location. It may commence as early as July/August and continue through to April/May.

“We urge dog owners to guard against ticks this season by using a product specifically aimed at killing and repelling ticks, such as a spot-on, like Advantix, or a tick collar, like Kiltix Collar, and checking their pets for ticks on a daily basis. Flea treatments will not protect dogs against ticks. For cats Frontline is the best option though it is not registered as a tick prevention. You can’t use Advantix in cats.”

“If your pet has a tick, or shows signs of tick paralysis, contact your vet immediately to access medical advice and treatment,” Dr Boulton said.

Signs of Paralysis Tick Toxicity

Signs of tick paralysis include:

  •     weakness in the legs, especially hind legs,
  •     a drunken gait,
  •     muted barking,
  •     rapid noisy breathing,
  •     slow grunting breathing,
  •     coughing, gagging, drooling and vomiting.

Sometimes though, signs are vague – including lethargy and not eating.

If you suspect that your pet is suffering from tick paralysis don’t delay, get him or her to the vet as soon as possible.

Prevention is better than a cure

To reduce the chances of tick paralysis you should treat your dog with a product that kills and repels ticks, such as a spot-on, like Advantix and/or a tick collar, like Kiltix Collar. Frotntline is best for cats. Make sure the product you use is water proof and follow manufacturer’s instructions carefully. Most flea treatments will not kill ticks!

How to check your pet for ticks

The best way is to feel, not look, for ticks. Start in the common places such as the head and neck, but make sure you search everywhere, including the ears, around the eyes, under the collar, between toes etc. Try to do this every day, even if you are using a product to kill ticks. Your pet is also bound to enjoy the extra attention!

Want More Information?

Please download our ebook. It is a detailed guide called ‘Surviving Tick Paralysis’ and as the name would suggest it provides a lot of information to help you understand the treatment and prevention of this fatal disease.

Visit to download the book at no charge.

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Chris Boulton
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