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Pet Owners on the Look Out for Toxic Ticks

11 February 2016

AUSTRALIA - With summer being the high season for ticks, the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) is encouraging pet owners to prevent serious harm or death by checking their pets regularly for ticks.

“Dog and cat owners must be vigilant at this time of year, particularly when travelling to tick prone areas,” said AVA President Dr Robert Johnson.

In the last few months the Disease Watchdog database has recorded more than 365 cases of tick paralysis along the east coast of New South Wales. Hot spots include Coffs Harbour, Central Coast, Moruya and Port Macquarie.

“Ticks breed mainly along the east coast in warm and humid weather. With the extremely hot weather we’ve been experiencing recently, which is set to continue, we’re urging pet owners to take preventive measures to avoid what can often be a fatal outcome,” he said.

“There are a range of preventive tick products around. For people living in tick prone areas, they should contact their local vet who can advise on the best prevention method for their situation.”

Paralysis ticks tend to attach to the head and neck area of the pet and on the chest and the front leg, but can 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. Often dogs won’t be able to bark properly as a result of paralysis of the throat.”

“Other animals may have trouble breathing or start to cough when eating or drinking,” he said.

Ideally pet owners should check dogs and cats regularly by running their hands over the animal to feel for anything unusual. In cats, ticks often latch around the back of the neck where they can’t groom, so it’s important to pay special attention to this area. If you find a tick it’s vital you take action and contact your local vet for advice.

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