Tick Prevention in Cats & Dogs

An important reminder

It can take up to 6 weeks for topical tick preventatives to start being effective. It is a good idea that all dogs & cats that go outside are on a tick preventative. The deadly paralysis tick (Ixodes holocyclus) is very common in this area of Sydney, more so 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 spring & summer months from September – February. If you’re not sure what they look like then 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 on your search on these areas. 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.

We recommend 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 and puppies over 8 weeks of age. Your puppy should weigh more than 2 kgs before using Bravest. Because it is a 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.

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.

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. Tick collars are one size fits all and are fairly inexpensive.

CATS

At present there is only one product registered for tick prevention in cats – Fipronil Spray. However many cats don't tolerate being sprayed with anything at all well and there has to be some concern about a sprayed cat then licking the product off there coat. Products like Bravecto may have a place in cats in the future but this far there is no registration in place for their use.  We stock a fipronil spray called FRONTERA  which can be used every 3 weeks. Fipronil Spray, if used, should be applied every 3 weeks.

 *ADVANTIX AND TICK COLLARS MUST NOT BE USED ON CATS*


Early warning signs of tick paralysis

A change in your pets 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. Then move to the tummy, back and legs. Ticks can also be found 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 morebefore 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, ideally without squeezing the body as this may conceivably inject further toxin . Do not attempt to kill the tick first as this can release more toxin in to your pet as the tick dies and is therefore not recommended. Be aware that the paralysis tick has much longer mouthparts than our other relatively harmless 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 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 simply and avoids any squeezing of the tick . They are inexpensive and available at reception.