What are ticks?

Ticks are potentially lethal parasites that feed on your dog’s blood and secrete toxins into their bloodstream. This can cause serious paralysis that can be fatal to your pet. Hot and humid weather can increase the risk of ticks on dogs and other parasites, especially in bushland or grassy areas – though they are present all throughout the year.

Map of tick locations in Australia

Where ticks are commonly found in Australia.

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 types of ticks are common in Australia?

Common ticks found in Australia

Paralysis ticks

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. However, they can also attach themselves to dogs in urban areas, as they can be found in long grass and on native animals such as bandicoots and possums.

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 or find a paralysis tick on your dog, 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 signs your pet is exhibiting. Your healthcare team will highly recommend that your pet is seen immediately! Keep your pet cool and as calm as possible especially on the trip to the vet clinic.

The longer a tick is able to feed on a dog, the more likely it is to cause severe paralysis. Therefore the earlier treatment is sought, generally the better chance of survival.

What are signs that my dog has a paralysis tick?

Paralysis tick clinical signs in dogs
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
  • Regurgitation
  • 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. Any delay in treatment puts them at greater risk of succumbing to the effects of tick paralysis. Contact your local Greencross Vets for more information or for treatment of your pet.


Brown dog ticks, cattle ticks and bush ticks

While not as dangerous as paralysis ticks, brown dog ticks can cause a lot of irritation. Large numbers may cause dermatitis or anaemia. Recently it has been found to transmit a serious disease called Erlichiosis in Western Australia. The brown dog tick is present in northern Australia and more typically seen in dog kennels. 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.

How can I protect my dog from ticks?

Try our Dog Flea, Tick and Worm Treatment Finder

Try our Dog Flea, Tick and Worm Treatment Finder

Tick preventative treatments

As with most diseases, prevention of ticks on dogs is better than treatment. There are two types of products, those that repel ticks and those that kill a tick once it takes a blood meal from an animal. Petbarn provides a number of tick preventative treatments for dogs, including palatable chews, 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, or check out our top recommendations to keep your dog safe below.

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Daily checks for ticks on your dog

In addition to preventative medication, it is essential to check your pet’s body for ticks daily, 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.

How to find ticks on dogs

To check for ticks on dogs, run your fingertips through your dog’s coat systematically checking the whole skin surface. Approximately 85-90% of paralysis 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.

Where to look for ticks on your dog - check their entire body including head, toes, tail and fur

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.