What are ticks?
Ticks are dangerous parasites that feed on your dog’s blood and secrete toxins into their bloodstream. This can cause serious illness and be potentially fatal for your pet. Hot and humid weather can increase the risk of ticks and other parasites, especially in bushland or scrubby areas – though they are present all throughout the year.
There are two major types of ticks that may affect your dog – the paralysis tick and brown dog tick. Bush ticks and cattle ticks can also be a nuisance for dogs in rural parts of Australia. Find the best treatment combination to protect your dog against ticks and other parasites in your area with our Flea, Tick and Worm Treatment Finder tool.
What ticks may be in my environment?
Paralysis ticks are dangerous parasites, which deliver a deadly neurotoxin to animals. Prevalent during the warmer months along the east coast of Australia, they are usually found near bushland, where they can attach themselves to your dog while you’re out walking. They are often found in urban areas too, particularly near long grasses or shrubby bushland.
What should I do if my dog gets a paralysis tick?
If you see a tick on your dog, remove it immediately and take the tick to the vet with your pet for identification. Ticks attach to an animal and inject a toxin as they feed. This toxin is absorbed into the blood, and works its way into the nervous system, causing progressive paralysis of all muscles, including those of the throat, chest, legs and heart.
If you suspect a tick, it’s important you do not give anything to your pet by mouth including food or water. Contact your local Greencross Vets immediately and describe the symptoms your pet is exhibiting. Your healthcare team will recommend a checkup – better safe than sorry! Keep your pet cool and as calm as possible especially on the trip to the vet surgery.
The more time the toxin is given to affect a pet, the lower the chances of survival become – survival is more likely the earlier treatment begins.
Brown dog ticks, cattle ticks and bush ticks
While not as dangerous as paralysis ticks, brown dog ticks can cause a lot of discomfort. They typically live in large numbers in your dog’s environment in places like their kennel, and may even be in your home. Cattle ticks and bush ticks are active in regional and tropical areas. The best policy is to check your dog regularly for ticks, especially if you notice any of the symptomatic behaviour listed below.
What are signs that my dog has a paralysis tick?
It’s important to know the signs of a paralysis tick attaching to your pet, and what to expect if it happens. Ticks can attach to your pet as they walk past or through grasses or bushes. The signs of tick paralysis can vary, though common signs include:
- A change to the sound of the dog’s bark
- Retching or coughing, or an exaggerated swallowing action that may sound like the dog is trying to clear its throat
- Wobbliness in the hind limbs or unsteady walk progressing to the front limbs. Dogs may not be able to jump as usual or may keep sitting down
- Rapid or difficulty breathing, often characterised by open mouth breathing
If your dog is showing any of these signs it’s important that it is treated appropriately, as soon as possible. If your dog is left untreated with an attached tick, it may result in their death. Contact your local Greencross Vets for more information or for treatment of your pet.
How can I protect my dog from ticks?
Tick preventative treatments
As with most diseases, prevention is better than treatment. Even though we cannot prevent ticks attaching, there are several ways to reduce or minimise their impact. Petbarn provides are a number of tick preventative treatments for dogs, including chewable tablets, tick collars, spot-ons and spray products. These treatments exist to keep your pet safe. Use our Flea, Tick and Worm Treatment Finder tool to learn which treatment products will provide your dog with complete protection against the ticks and other parasites in their area.
In addition to preventative medication, it is essential to check your pet’s body for ticks regularly – every day is best, and especially after walks. Remember that if your dog walks into long grass, undergrowth, under trees or if you have native wildlife near your pet’s environment, they are at high risk. If you are travelling to other areas with your dog, make sure you protect against ticks and start treatment before travelling.
To check for ticks, run your fingertips through your dog’s coat systematically checking the whole skin surface. Most ticks will attach around the head, neck, chest and shoulders but they can be sneaky and attach anywhere, even inside the mouth, between the toes and under the tail.
If you need any further advice about ticks and your dog, contact your nearest Greencross Vets for assistance in developing the most suitable tick prevention regime for your pet.