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Tick Season is Upon Us

24 January 2022  

What are ticks?
Ticks are parasitic arachnids that feed on bloodmeal from their host. They are often found on the
face, legs, armpits and belly of affected dogs and cats. They range from 3-5mm in size but can grow
much larger when fully engorged from feeding.
The most significant species of tick for dogs and cats are the Ixodes spp., and Rhipicephalus
sanguineus in dogs. Particularly notable is Ixodes holocyclus, the paralysis tick.

What do they cause?
Ticks produce toxins in their salivary glands that can cause local irritation to the skin, papular
dermatitis, and usually some level of itchiness.
Animals that are heavily infested may become anaemic.

Tick paralysis
If a dog or cat is infested by paralysis tick, they often show signs of hindlimb paresis and audible
hints of respiratory distress.
If untreated, this will lead to flaccid paralysis and symptoms such as reduced gag and swallowing
reflexes, and dilated pupils. In dogs, regurgitation and vomiting can also occur due to these reduced
reflexes.

When is tick season?
As ticks require warmth and humidity, it is during October to March in Australia when they are most
active. The paralysis tick is prevalent along the eastern coast of Australia, while the bush tick and
brown dog tick range much deeper inland.

 

Source: RSPCA

Where do they inhabit?
Ticks usually attach themselves to native wildlife in bushland areas, so this is also where most pets
can become affected and become incidental hosts.

How do you protect your pet?

The best way to protect pets from ticks is to stay up to date with tick prevention. Products such as
tick collars, sprays and spot-on treatment can be useful. At GWAH we regularly recommend Bravecto however one of our receptionists or nurses can recommend a product best suited to your pet.
Regardless, regularly checking if there are attached or engorged ticks on pets is highly recommended
as product failure can occur.
It will also be helpful to avoid bushland areas especially during tick season, and where feasible,
environmental acaricides may be necessary for kennels and pens.

What do you do if you find a tick?
If your pet is showing signs of tick paralysis, it needs to be taken to an emergency vet immediately
for tick anti-serum treatment and supportive therapy to get rid of the toxins.
The ticks will all need to be thoroughly removed, their toxins neutralised, and the dog or cat be put
in care until it fully recovers. Following up with tick treatment will then ensure that any ticks
remaining will be killed.

If you are ever concerned your pet may have a tick or you would like to find out more information on how to protect your pet give one of our friendly receptionists a call on 9631 9322 or book a complimentary nurse consult with one of our nurses.

 

Written By Ryan Chau