This is the time of year to be vigilant about checking pets for paralysis tick. Although ticks can occur year round, their peak period is spring and summer when warm weather combines with periods of rain.
The paralysis tick (Ixodes holocyclus) is found along most of Australia’s east coast where an estimated 20,000 domestic animals are paralysed every year. These ticks can affect livestock, domestic pets and humans.
Pets are primarily exposed to ticks when they traverse thick scrubby bushland. Unkempt suburban backyards can also provide a habitat for ticks, so keep backyards clear of excess vegetation and debris. Also, avoid exercising your pet where grasses are overgrown to avoid infestation.
Once a tick has attached to a host, the animal will not normally display symptoms for at least two days. If a tick is discovered and removed during this period, the pet should have no further problems. An affected animal may eventually display loss of appetite, lethargy, altered bark or meow, coughing, retching, vomiting, grunting, altered breathing and in advanced cases, weakness in the legs. If your pet displays any of these symptoms, contact your vet immediately. If untreated, paralysis ticks can lead to permanent problems or death.
Checking your pets daily for ticks can be done while petting or grooming the animal and is good practice as it increases the likelihood of discovering ticks before symptoms become serious. At the end of each day give your pet a big cuddle and pat. This will ensure ticks are detected early and you and your pet will enjoy the time together. Be sure to check carefully around the head and neck, under the arms or collar.
Talk to your veterinarian about tick prevention. There are good topical products and collars that can decrease the risk of infestation. Now is a great time to shave or shorten your dog’s hair. It is ideal for seeing ticks and cooling for the warmer months ahead.
For more information on paralysis ticks and what to do if you find one visit RSPCA site. Don’t forget to check yourself as well if you have been bushwalking or out and about outside.