How to protect your pet from tick paralysis

It’s ‘tick time’ in Queensland right now, and even one tick can be a killer.

The paralysis tick (Ixodes holocyclus) is a dangerous parasite that affects people and pets in Queensland every year. In northern Queensland, ticks can be found all year round while in the cooler southern areas, tick season is usually from spring through to autumn.

Understanding tick paralysis

In humans, these dangerous parasites cause severe, local skin irritation. In pets they cause a more serious reaction including paralysis, vomiting, breathing difficulty and even death.

Bandicoots, possums and other native animals carry the ticks and are immune to the combination of toxins that the ticks inject as they feed. Dogs and cats are very susceptible to these toxins and just one tick can cause paralysis and death.

It’s difficult to predict exactly when ticks will appear and tick season varies greatly from area to area and from year to year.

September and October are peak tick months, so it is essential to protect your pets now.

Three ways to protect your pets

1. Find out the tick risk for your area

Paralysis tick prevention is essential if you live in a tick area or are travelling to the coast on holidays.

Call your local vet to ask if ticks are active in your area, or go online to www.tickalert.com.au and get a tick activity report, along with recommendations for your postcode. You can also subscribe for tick alerts to be sent to you.

2. Search your pet daily during the tick season

Search your pets thoroughly every day, especially around the head, ears and under the collar where ticks commonly attach. Don’t forget to check between the toes and under the tail.

Clipping your dog’s coat short during the tick season makes tick searches much easier. But daily tick searches alone aren’t enough.

3. Apply tick prevention

Topical tick prevention products like Advantix and Frontline Plus both repel and kill paralysis ticks when applied every 14 days. It’s OK to use these products on dogs that occasionally swim, but some spot-on products are toxic to cats, so always check with your vet.

Oral chews are another option. They are easy to administer and offer up to four months of paralysis tick protection. Chews like Bravecto, Nexgard and Simparica can also protect against flea infestations.

Tick collars like Seresto deliver the longest protection, controlling ticks on dogs for up to four months and fleas for up to eight months.

If you need to stock up on tick prevention, RACQ members save an extra 10 percent on tick control. Just enter the code RACQ10 at checkout.

What to do if you find a tick

If you do find a tick on your pet, remove it immediately with tweezers or a tick-removing device, which you can get from your vet or online. Try to gently lever the tick off and avoid squeezing the tick’s body.

After you remove the tick, be sure to keep it and take it to your vet for identification. If your pet is showing any signs of tick paralysis, seek veterinary attention immediately.

Paralysis ticks are deadly and treatment is risky and expensive. Prevention is definitely better than cure when it comes to ticks, so now is the time to act.

Thanks to Dr Mike from Vet Products Direct for this important veterinary information. Vet Products Direct are a team of vets and vet nurses dedicated to making it easy for you to keep your pets happy and healthy. Visit the Vet Products Direct websiteor call the vet nurse team on 1300 838 776 for advice on your pets.