The first-ever National Tick Awareness Month for Pets was launched in August as part of a renewed effort by veterinary experts to shine a spotlight on the dangers of paralysis ticks and all species of ticks – and call on pet owners to ensure their pets are protected.
The awareness campaign shines a spotlight on the deadly dangers of paralysis ticks and awareness about other tick species such as the brown dog tick and bush ticks. The campaign has been timed to coincide with the beginning of the highest risk period for deadly paralysis ticks (spring and early summer), although cases are seen all year-round.
Despite the widespread impact of paralysis ticks on Australian pets, pet owners remain largely in the dark with being compliant with tick prevention – a survey showed that only 53% of owners living in paralysis tick zones, and 41% of owners living in non-paralysis tick zones1, were currently protecting their dog with an effective tick control product.
According to Dr Ellie Leister, a specialist in Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care, the National Tick Awareness campaign is an opportunity to initiate a conversation with pet owners on the importance of compliance with tick control, including those who like to travel with their dogs.
“Paralysis ticks are parasites that feed on blood, and as they feed, they secrete numerous toxins. One of them is a potent neurotoxin which can cause paralysis of the body, respiratory muscles, and affect the ability to swallow properly,” Dr Leister said.
“Tick paralysis can be fatal. And this is why it is so important for pet owners to be able to recognise the signs, and even more importantly, to be protecting their pets with an effective tick control product. The aim is that National Tick Awareness Month for Pets will better educate pet owners on the risks of tick paralysis and how to protect their pets.”
Dr Leister has been studying the impact of the launch of the most recent class of tick control products – isoxazoline products like NexGard® and NexGard SPECTRA® on tick paralysis in pets.
“Our research shows that since 2015, when the new isoxazoline class of tick control products became widely available, there has been almost a 50% reduction in the number of cases of tick paralysis presenting to veterinary clinics. This has had a positive impact on the wellbeing of many dogs, who haven’t had to suffer the serious and sometimes fatal effects of tick paralysis.”
Dr Leister is a member of the Australian Paralysis Tick Advisory Panel – a panel of nine veterinary and scientific experts – which seeks to close the gap in understanding of the dangers of paralysis ticks by conducting and reviewing scientific research and developing guidelines on the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of tick paralysis in pets.
“Whilst tick paralysis is certainly more common in spring and early summer, cases are actually seen all year round. In Southeast Queensland, we start to see the number of cases presenting increase in the winter months,” Dr Leister continued.
“The recommendation from the advisory panel is for owners to use one of the newer, very effective tick control products from the isoxazoline family. These products should be used all year-round for dogs that are living in or travelling to known paralysis tick regions.
“We also recommend checking for ticks daily and watching for the early signs of tick paralysis. These include changes to their bark or breathing pattern, and weakness in their hind legs progressing to paralysis. It is also very common for them to regurgitate or vomit due to the effect on the gastrointestinal tract,” said Dr Ellie.
For more information on National Tick Awareness Month for Pets, including how to best protect dogs from ticks, fleas, mites, heartworm and intestinal worms, visit https://nexgard.com.au/tickcheck
How to check your dog for ticks
To check your dog:
- Gently move your fingertips through the coat at the level of the skin, feeling for any bumps.
- Start at the head and neck – don’t forget the mouth and ears – and continue down the front
- legs to the paws, checking between and under the toes. Search the chest, belly, back, tail,
- and back legs.
- Remove the collar and search for ticks that may be hiding underneath it.
PetO stocks NexGard® and NexGard SPECTRA®
NexGard® and NexGard SPECTRA®, manufactured by Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health, are tasty once-a-month chews, suitable for puppies and dogs from eight weeks of age and weighing at least 2kg. NexGard® protects against fleas, ticks and mites. NexGard SPECTRA® provides the most complete protection against fleas, ticks, mites, heartworm and intestinal worms, all in one tasty chew. See product labels for full claim details and directions for use.
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