The main tick of concern for pet owners is the Paralysis Tick (Ixodes holocyclus) as it can cause paralysis and death within 4 days of attachment. Whilst Paralysis Ticks occur naturally only in certain geographic areas (mainly along the coastal eastern seaboard of Australia) they can attach to pets who visit these areas during the warmer months, particularly if they are allowed to run through scrub. Ticks may also hitch a ride back with you or a neighbour in cars, rugs, towels or plants.
For dogs, there are two new highly palatable chewable tablets that are on the market to prevent ticks with great results. One product is called Bravecto, and needs to be given to your dog once every three months. The other is called Nexgard, and needs to be given to your dog once a month. They are both from the same drug family and have the same good efficacy, and just last for different lengths of time. Some owners like the Nexgard because they remember the same date for each months, other owners like the Bravecto because they can sync it up with their three monthly worming tablet. So pick which one best suits your routine. Additionally, both Bravecto and Nexgard also prevent against fleas.
Unfortunately, there are no on-label tick prevention products for your cat. Feel free to give us a call about alternative prevention and monitoring measures for your cat, as they are still prone to tick paralysis.
If you notice a tick on a pet that is not displaying signs of tick paralysis, remove the tick straight away.To do this, this best method is to use a 'Tick Twister' - this is a fantastic device resembling a claw hammer for extracting nails. Slide the fork as low as possible under the tick, then twist the device and the tick normally comes out very easily, head and all. The tick should then be killed by some means, but ideally do not expose yourself to the abdominal contents of the tick, as these can contain infectious micro-organisms. If you are not able to remove the tick you could just kill it with insecticides such as Permoxin rinse or Frontline spray. NEVER use Permoxin on a catand make sure a dog is fully dry before it has close contact with a cat. If you are still not confident the tick is dead or removed fully, please call for advice or a consultation. Once the tick is removed your pet should be kept cool and quiet whilst being closely monitored for 24 hours. If your pet starts to display any signs of tick paralysis, such as vomiting, weakness, staggering, breathing difficulty, or altered bark, seek immediate veterinary attention as this can be a genuine veterinary emergency. If your pet is showing any of the above signs, do not offer food or water as these may be accidentally inhaled in tick-affected dogs.
Treatment of tick paralysis includes searching for and removing all ticks. This may include clipping the animal completely and/or the use of medication to kill remaining ticks. Tick antiserum is administered to counteract the toxin and supportive care is provided during recovery. This can be costly in comparison to what it would cost to use tick prevention initially. However, no tick prevention is 100% effective and should always be used in combination with daily searches of your pet. Searching your pet shouldn’t cease once you return from tick-affected regions but should continue for at least 7 days after returning home. Use your fingers to feel over the entire body, especially under the collar, on the face and around the front of your pet. Don’t forget to check carefully between the toes, under the lips and in the ears.
We are more than happy to show you how to do a thorough tick search, please call us to discuss.