What are Ticks?
Ticks are parasites that feed on human and animal blood. There are more than 800 species of ticks around the world, 70 of which are found here in Australia. Ticks climb to the top of long grasses and low hanging foliage so they can quickly attach to dogs and cats as they pass by. Ticks are most often found in damp bushland, parks, gardens and most commonly along the eastern seaboard of Australia.
When it comes to our beloved pets, the most concerning species of tick is the paralysis tick (Ixodes holocyclus).
This type of tick can be fatal. We need to watch out for ticks throughout all four seasons, however, in saying that, the number of ticks peak in the hot summer months. So, with the onset of Spring just around the corner, now is a great time to refresh your memory regarding tick prevention treatment.
What Makes Ticks So Dangerous?
Ticks greatest weapon is the injection of a toxin into the salivary glands of the host animal. This occurs when they bite and subsequently commence feeding. This is a pure form of poison and can be fatal to your beloved furry friend. Finding ticks on a dog or cat can cause pet owners to worry - and rightly so.
Signs That a Tick Bite Has Occurred
Be on the lookout for the following symptoms if you suspect a tick bite has occurred.
- Extreme tiredness
- Loss of concentration or the inability to focus
- Altered appetite. Your pet may become disinterested in his/her food
- Coughing or vomiting may occur
- The sound of your dogs bark may sound strange
- Paralysis which may commence in the forelegs
- Laboured or forced breathing
If you notice any of these symptoms and you are concerned about the welfare of your pet - get them to a Veterinarian hospital as soon as possible. Again, we must stress, an untreated pet can die from a tick bite.
How to Remove a Tick - Tick Removal Methods
Over the years there have been many theories on how to safely remove a tick from your animal. Some suggest tick removal by burning the tick’s body carefully with a match, some use nail polish remover or petroleum jelly, some use wart spray or a cube of ice to freeze the tick to death.
Many Naturopaths suggest applying tea tree or peppermint oil on the skin surrounding the bite site. This is said to encourage the tick to back out on its own without risking the mouth breaking off inside the animal.
Whilst many of these methods work effectively, the safest way to act if a tick is discovered on your pet is to drop everything and head straight to your nearest vet. If the vet is a long way away and you wish to remove it yourself, grab some tweezers! Sterilise them first with some hot water. Carefully try and attach the tweezers to the tick as close to the animal’s skin surface as possible. Pinch and pull upwards with steady, even pressure. Try not to jerk or twist the tick, this can cause the mouth to break off inside. When it’s finally removed, make your way to the vet with the tick in a zip lock bag for the vet to inspect.
The preferred method of tick removal is by way of a ‘tick hook’ which can be purchased from your vet while you are there. Your vet can also educate you on the safest way to remove a tick from your animal – just in case there is a next time. It is important to do this training. Without specific care and precision, you run the risk of only removing part of the tick. This will then make total extraction even more difficult and possibly painful.
Tick Treatments That Work
Your pet may need to stay in an animal hospital until a tick treatment has been administered. This involves the application of a tick anti-toxin, followed by supportive therapy until your pet is strong enough to return home. As always, prevention is better than cure. As well as checking your pets daily for ticks, why not try any number of preventative products to greatly reduce the chances of ticks becoming a pest for your beloved animal.
Products include sprays, spot-on treatments, rinses and tick collars. Ask the friendly staff at Chemist Outlet to advise you on the following:
- Advantix Tick & Flea treatment for dogs
- Killtix / Preventic Collars (Can be used in conjunction with Advantix and Frontline)
- Permoxin Rinse (Recommended for Dogs Only)
- Frontline Spray
Please note that there is no tick treatment that is 100% effective in preventing the attachment or the feeding of ticks, therefore it is extremely important that you continue to search your pets and take action immediately if any are found. Pay close attention to the tail area and around the ears as common bite sites. Let’s be vigilant when it comes to caring for our most precious, treasured, furry family members. They don’t have a voice. They rely on us to know what we are doing. Let’s take tick prevention and treatment seriously for the health and safety of our fur-babies.