Tick Prevention in Cats & Dogs

The deadly paralysis tick (Ixodes holocyclus) is very common in this area of Sydney, especially in bushy areas or the coast, where there are lots of possums and bandicoots (the paralysis tick’s natural hosts). They are found all year round, but particularly in the warmer months from September – April. If you’re not sure what they look like we are happy to show you.

Daily tick searches will give you a chance to find the tick before paralysis sets in as it usually takes about 3 days after the tick attaches before toxicity is seen. About 70% of ticks are found in the front half of the body – head, neck, shoulders and under the arms – so focus your search on these areas but please DO NOT neglect the rear half as well including the tail and genitals. Remember your pets should be searched daily for ticks as NO product is 100% effective. Long coated dogs and cats can be clipped short for the spring and summer to allow a thorough tick search.

We recommend:

DOGS

The arrival of long-acting oral medications with exceptionally high efficacy against the Australian paralysis tick has revolutionised tick prevention in dogs.

BRAVECTO - a chewable tablet which seems to provide excellent protection for a period of 3 months.

Administration once every 3 months will provide protection  against against ticks and fleas. This will ensure coverage of both fleas and paralysis ticks for the whole period. This product can be used in breeding and pregnant dogs as well as puppies over 8 weeks of age. Your puppy should weigh more than 2 kgs before using Bravecto. Because it is an oral product, it won’t wash off so your furry friend can go swimming or have a bath and still enjoy flea and tick coverage for the entire 3 months.

BRAVECTO SPOT ON - a spot on liquid applied to the back of the neck which lasts for 6 months for flea and paralysis tick protection. As for the chewable it is suitable for puppies from 8 weeks old and weighing more than 2kg.

NEXGARD - a monthly chewable for both paralysis tick and flea protection for puppies from 8 weeks old and weighing more than 2kg.

NEXGARD SPECTRA - a monthly chewable as for NexGard but also has heartworm and intestinal worming control.  

Other options:

Use ADVANTIX spot-on every 2 weeks as directed. In dogs < 25 kg Advantix is applied on the skin in between the shoulder blades, while in large dogs > 25kg it needs to be divided into 3 areas; the mid-shoulders, mid-spine and tail base. Advantix can be used from 7 weeks of age in puppies. It is NOT SAFE ON or around CATS and should not be used in households where the dog and the cat are in close contact, especially if the cat grooms the dog. Note that Advantix is not water resistant.

There is a 3 month tick collar called SCALIBOR collar available which has no chemical smell and is well tolerated by dogs and can also be used in conjunction with ADVANTIX or BRAVECTO. Scalibor is safe in puppies from 8 weeks of age. It takes 2 weeks for the Scalibor collar to be fully effective.

SERESTO collar - a waterproof collar which is effective against paralysis ticks for 4 months and fleas for 8 months, can be used in puppies from 7 weeks old. 

Other brands of tick collars are NOT waterproof so need to be removed during swimming or bathing. Read the directions before applying them to your dog and make sure that excess length of collar is trimmed off. 

CATS

BRAVECTO Spot On for cats is our recommendation for the most effective tick and flea control applied every 3 months.

BRAVECTO PLUS Spot On if used every 2 months will provide flea, tick and worming protection. 


Early warning signs of tick paralysis

A change in your pet's voice (the vocal chords become paralysed);
Vomiting/regurgitating food;
Wobbly back legs;
Reluctance to get up from a sitting position;
Heavy breathing;
Cats may have trouble landing properly after jumping from a height such as a table;
Animals showing any of these signs should be seen by a vet urgently as the earlier they are treated with the anti- tick toxin, the better the chances are for survival.

Daily tick searching technique

The first place to look for a tick is around the head, neck, ears and face – don’t forget to check under the collar too (best to actually remove the collar for the search). Then move to the tummy, back, legs and don't forget the genitals, bottom and the tail. Ticks can also be found in the folds around your pet’s ears. Use all 10 fingers to creep your fingers slowly through your pet’s coat. Ensure that no area is missed. If a thorough tick search is performed daily this gives you 3 chances - ticks need to be attached for some 3 days or more before they start to produce symptoms - to locate a tick before clinical signs set in.

The paralysis tick is a grey-brown 8 legged parasite ranging in size from a few millimeters to 1cm in width. Its body becomes larger as it feeds and the mouthparts are usually firmly attached to the animal’s skin.

Tick removal technique

It is important to remove a tick as quickly and smoothly as possible as soon as you find it. Be aware that the paralysis tick has much longer mouthparts than other ticks and so will be harder to remove. A fine pair of tweezers placed between the body of the tick and your pet's skin may allow removal with a quick outward tug. There is however an excellent and inexpensive device called a TICK TWISTER which is available to purchase at our practice. It is a small plastic hook that can be wedged underneath the tick making removal of ticks really simple and avoids skin damage.