IT'S TICK SEASON // What You Need To Know To Keep Your Pets Safe
Don’t you just love Straya? Not only do the warmer months bring delightful creatures like mozzies, flies the size of your head, creepy crawlies and wriggly sticks out of the woodwork, they also brings ticks.
Ticks can be quite the problem for our pets. And unfortunately, in the Highlands they are prevalent and probably the biggest risk factor to the health of our dogs and cats.
So, what can we do to minimise the risk for our furry friends?
We chatted to local vets, Charlie Carter and Chris Watson from Southern Highlands Veterinary Centre who gave us some good advice about prevention and what to do if you find a nasty tick on your pet.
What are ticks?
Ticks are teeny tiny bloodsucking parasites that thrive in bushland and forests. They are less than 1cm in size so can be quite tricky to spot.
You’ll find them mostly hanging out in long grasses waiting to find an animal they can attach themselves to – sneaky buggers! Their saliva stops their hosts’ blood from clotting and also contains a toxin designed to anesthetise the animal they’re attached to. That’s when things can get messy….
“There are three main types of ticks to keep an eye out for in the Southern Highlands,” says Chris.
“The bush tick, brown dog tick and the paralysis tick. The paralysis tick is the only tick that will make your pet sick. It’s dangerous because of the speed at which it can cause severe illness in your pet and if we don’t get to it in time, sadly it can cause death.”
So what do we need to look out for?
It’s good to check your pet daily, especially if they’ve joined the family on a bushwalk or been outside for a long period of time.
“Run your hands firmly over your pet and feel for any small bumps or anomalies,” Chris says.
“Feel around in any tucked away places like under the collar, between toes and inside their ears. The head and front half of the body is the most likely place, but they can turn up anywhere on your pet’s body.”
It’s also important to be aware of the symptom’s pets display if they have a tick. Early detection is key.
Look out for vomiting, gagging, difficulty breathing, a change in your pet’s bark or meow, wobbly back legs and inability to stand, and refusing food.
GROSS (but necessary) PICTURE ALERT!! This is a parasite tick below - yuck!
Prevention is better than cure!
“There are loads of good tick prevention products on the markets these days. From collars and tablets to shampoos and rinses, there are plenty of options,” Charlie says.
“There are plenty of options, but we recommend the long acting spot on preparations for cats. For dogs that don’t swim daily, the long acting spot on preparations are best. And for dogs that swim regularly – like my Labrador! – we recommend tablets which can either be given monthly or every three months depending on the product,” he recommends.
“Anyone who lives in the Southern Highlands with a pet should be on top of tick prevention. If you’re not sure where to start or which prevention product will work best for your pet, come in and have a chat to us.”
“It’s important to get it right.”
So, what do we do if we come across a tick?
Time is of the essence people so remove it! And remove it fast!
“Use fine tipped or pointed tweezers and grab the tick as close to the skin as possible. You can also buy a handy little gadget called a tick twister to remove ticks,” says Charlie.
“Gently pull the tick out with steady pressure – try not to squeeze the tick as you pull it out - and then clean the area around the tick bite.”
Then keep an eye on your pet for any of those symptoms we spoke about earlier.
“If you’re unsure or even if you just want peace of mind, bring your pet in and we can check him over,” Charlie says.
“It’s better to be safe than sorry!”