While there are around 75 species of ticks in Australia, the ticks of greatest concern to pet owners is the paralysis tick (Ixodes holocyclus).
How ticks harm pets
When attached, the adult female paralysis tick burrows its mothparts into the skin and sucks blood. The tick begins producing a potent toxin that affects the central nervous system, causing a progressive paralysis. If left untreated, paralysis leads to death.
Where ticks are found in Australia
Ticks are commonly found on the east coast from Lakes Entrance in Victoria to Cape York in Queensland, paralysis tick kills thousands of dogs in Australia each year. Tick paralysis of domestic animals sometimes occurs outside these regions, as ticks may be transported on animals, plants or other materials. Paralysis ticks prefer bushland and scrubby areas, although can be found in grasslands or even your own backyard. They rely on warm, humid weather and will not survive or breed in cold and dry climates.
Quick Tip:You can keep up to date with paralysis tick outbreaks in your area by visiting www.diseasewatchdog.org.
Each stage of the ticks lifecycle may be present througout the year however, adults are more prolific in spring through to late autumn in Australia. Paralysis ticks require a blood meal from a host on 3 seperate occasions in order to complete their lifecycle, which takes about a year to complete, depending on humidity and temperature.
How to protect your dog against deadly paralysis tick
- Use an effective paralysis tick control product, like Preventic, KILTIX, Advantix or Frontline Plus.
- Check your dog for ticks daily:
- Run your fingertips throughout your dog's coat down to skin level, feeling and looking.
- Particularly check the front half of the body, focusing on areas where skin folds like in and around ears and between toes.
- Check your dog even if tick control products have been applied.
- Daily checks could save your pet's life, if the tick is found and removed before serious toxicity occurs.
- Weakness or paralysis in the back legs, progressing to the front legs
- Wobbling and lack of coordination
- Coughing or gagging
- Change in bark tone
- Grunting while breathing
- Difficulty swallowing
- Regurgitating or vomiting
- Inability to stand; sitting down more often than usual
- Facial paralysis
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