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Saturday, April 17, 2021

Protect your pet

Canberrans are being encouraged to protect their furry friends this summer.

As summer approaches and Canberrans head for the beach, pet owners are being encouraged to put a tick prevention plan in place.

The warmer months are high season for ticks, and president of the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) Dr Paula Parker says cat and dog owners need to be particularly vigilant.

“Ticks breed mainly along the east coast of Australia in warm and humid weather so now is the time for pet owners to ensure they take preventive measures to avoid what can sometimes be a fatal outcome,” Dr Parker says.

“Paralysis ticks tend to attach to the head and neck area of the pet and on the chest and the front of the leg but can generally be found on any part of the body. Ticks release a toxin when they feed, which leads to a condition known as tick paralysis. Common signs of tick paralysis include difficulty walking, gurgling and choking. Dogs may not be able to bark properly.”

Dr Parker says there are many highly effective, safe and APVMA approved tick preventatives, and pet owners should chat with their vet about the best method for their pet. Pet owners should also check their pet regularly for ticks by running their hands over the animal to feel for anything unusual. 

“If you think your pet has a tick the best course of action is to contact your vet,” Dr Parker says.

Dr Michael Archinal from Manuka Veterinary Hospital says cat owners should prioritise tick treatment as well as dog owners, especially if travelling to the “notorious tick paralysis hot spots” on the NSW South Coast.

“Canberra does not have a resident tick paralysis population, but we see many cases every year when people take their pets to the coast on their holidays,” Dr Archinal says.

“I am so relieved that we now have highly effective long-acting tick prevention, the numbers of this potentially fatal infestation will drop dramatically. It is literally a life saver.”

Paralysis ticks are most commonly found on the east coast of Australia, particularly in NSW and Queensland, however paralysis ticks have also recently been found in parts of Victoria and South Australia.

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