Ticks are everywhere in Australia, and if you live anywhere near the coast, you’ll know all about our dreaded paralysis ticks too.

And while your dog or cat can get a tick at any time of year (they don’t die off or hibernate, see here), September starts official paralysis tick season in many areas of Australia. Come September, your pet should be fully protected against these nasties.

But what are ticks?

Ticks are oddly not related to fleas, but actually related to spiders (arachnids). Unlike spideres however, ticks require a “blood meal” from a host, most often an animal to grow and reproduce. Australian ticks have 4 stages in their life: Egg, larva, nymph and adult. At all stages except the egg stage, a tick must take a blood meal.

What makes paralysis ticks so dangerous?

When a paralysis tick bites or feeds, it injects a neurotoxin into the bloodstream of the animal. A paralysis tick’s toxin then causes paralysis of the animal’s muscles.

Because of this, paralysis ticks are the most deadly tick species in Australia, one bite can kill a large dog. There are two paralysis tick species in Australia, the Australian and the Tasmanian paralysis tick.

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How to spot a tick on your cat or dog.

1. Finding a tick in, or around your home.

If you find a tick on your carpets, curtains or anywhere else, your dog is likely the carrier and probably bought it in the house. Check your dog or cat straight away, using the next point.

2. Give you dog or cat a full rub down.

What you are looking for is a small bump, that could vary from the size of piece of sand to a small pebble. If you feel any abnormality, grab the torch and get as good of a look as you can. You can’t miss a tick when you find one.

3. Your dog acts strange.

After a tick bite, especially a paralysis tick, your dog may show symptoms of a fever, weakness or not wanting to play like normal, no appetite, different shivering (for small dogs who can do it for other reasons) and any unusual panting. If you notice any of these sign, please see a vet!

4. Excessively nipping or licking.

While ticks are often in places where dogs can’t reach easily, your dog may excessively nip or lick if it knows it has a tick. Pay close to attention if your dog keeps nipping one, or a few spots, and investigate with a flashlight immediately. Common areas are your dog’s ears, groin or under their front legs.

5. Unusual scabs or skin irretations.

A tick may have had it’s fill and left your dog already, however the signs are often still there. Many dogs excessively nip or lick at the bite site. If you notice this behaviour or find scabs on your dog’s body, make sure to conduct a closer examination.

6. Unusual head shaking.

Ticks can often crawl into a dog’s ear canal, as they like to hide in warm, damp places. If you notice your dog shaking their head more than normal, get out a flashlight and look very carefully for a tick. Note, the tick may be tiny at this stage as your dog will feel them in their ears more than other places.

7. Keep the tick for identification.

Once you’ve removed the tick (see video link below), keep the tick in a jar or zip lock bag so you can get it identified by your vet if need be. If you notice any signs in your pet, or are the least bit concerned, please contact your local vet straight away.

How to remove a tick.

Bush tick, paralysis tick or other species, here’s what you need to do if you find a tick on your pet. Firstly, try not to panic! When you panic your pet will too, and you may try to remove the tick the wrong way (if you’re in a rush), which can cause even more pain and complications.

Across is a video Dr Evan, FleaMail’s Vet recommends for remove a tick. AND REMEMBER, prevention like FleaMail is always better than the cure.

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