Ticked off: Your guide to saving your pets life!
Ticks are common in Australia, and paralysis ticks pose a great threat to pets. They may be small, but they are one of the most dangerous parasites affecting domestic animals! Harsh winters, lots of rain and heat contribute to the rise in tick cases.
According to a study carried out by University of Sydney, roughly 10,000 dogs are affected by Paralysis ticks each year, 5% of them fatally.
That means 500 dogs will die from ticks each year, with the remainder undergoing discomfort and suffering.
On top of the heartbreak that comes with paralysis ticks, owners are usually left with a hefty bill. Bills for treatment range from $5,000 – $10,000 in the most severely affected patients.
What are ticks?
- Ticks are more closely related to spiders (arachnids) than they are to fleas
- They are parasites that must take a blood meal from an animal or ‘host’ in order to grow, develop and reproduce
- They have 4 different life stages – egg, larva, nymph and adult – and all except the egg must find a host to bite and take a blood meal
Understanding Paralysis ticks
Ticks prefer warm and humid conditions. Adult ticks are most active and abundant in spring and summer which is known commonly as ‘tick season’, but can be found all year round, particularly in tropical and subtropical regions. You can commonly find ticks in dense bush and long grass, pet beds and kennels. Birds, possums, snakes and other animals can bring these deadly pest right into your backyard. Ticks can also damage the skin of animals when they bite creating wounds susceptible to secondary bacterial infection.
The natural hosts of the paralysis ticks are native Australian animals in the bush. However, ticks commonly attach to other non-native hosts, including dogs and humans. Paralysis ticks are the most concerning tick species for pet owners and vets in Australia, as one bite from a paralysis tick can kill a dog.
Other types of ticks to watch out for!
Brown dog ticks
- Most commonly live in the environment of their host (e.g. the kennel, backyard or inside your home)
- Non-venomous, but can cause discomfort and irritation and anaemia due to blood loss from heavy infestations
- Can transmit blood-borne diseases when they bite e.g. tick fever
- These ticks prefer to use cattle as their hosts, but will also bite and feed on dogs and other animals
- This tick is also non-venomous, but their bites can cause ‘tick worry’
- Rarely cause anaemia (with heavy tick burdens) or a localised bacterial infection at the site of attachment
- The cattle tick affects primarily cattle but can also infest other species such as sheep, horses, goats, buffaloes, camels, alpacas, llamas and deer
- Heavy cattle-tick infestation causes loss of condition and even death because of tick-worry and blood loss.
- Cattle ticks are distinguished by their pale legs and a space between the snout and the first pair of legs.
Prevention is the key!
Here are some tips on how to protect your pet from tick paralysis:
- Use a product that not only kills, but also repels paralysis ticks
- Use products regularly and as directed
- Take particular care to thoroughly search your dog after bush walking or visiting the beach
- For heavy brown dog tick infestations, environmental treatment with an insecticidal spay will be necessary
- Check your pet at least once a day for ticks by running your fingers through your pet’s coat – common areas for ticks to attach are around the head and neck, chest, mouth and gums, and between their toes
* Keep in mind we have a wide range of tick, flea and worming preventatives available at our front counter down at Capalaba Produce. All of our prices are very competitive and we will provide you with the best suited product for your animal to keep them safe!
What to do if you find a tick
- Remove the tick immediately and keep looking for more – use your thumb and index finger or tweezers placed close to the skin to remove the tick by twisting and pulling
- Keep the tick in a plastic container or zip lock bag for identification by your vet
Contact your vet immediately and take them down to get a check over. While they may appear fine, symptoms can worsen with time and it is always recommended to seek professional advice.