Lifestyle

Deadly tick danger all year round

DANGER ZONE: Long grass and areas of bush near the coast are noted tick havens. Photo: Tim Howard
DANGER ZONE: Long grass and areas of bush near the coast are noted tick havens. Photo: Tim Howard

THERE'S no such thing as tick season any more says a South Grafton veterinarian.

Dr James Moody, from the Riverbank Animal Hospital, said he has been telling his clients to look out for the potentially deadly creatures since the end of June.

"I realised this on June 21, the winter solstice, when two pet owner brought in dogs with ticks," Dr Moody said.

"Even in the middle of winter it was warm and moist enough to sustain ticks in this region.

"It's one of the arguments I make for climate change. It seems there is now no distinct change between seasons, at least as far as the animals go."

Dr Moody said the recent rains and the increase in temperature as spring arrives will only increase tick numbers.

To combat the menace Dr Moody recommended two pharmaceutical methods.

"My personal choice is a tick collar," he said.

"It lasts three months, which means you don't have to remember to change it so often. The other is a topical, spot-on treatment like Frontera, Advantix or Frontline Plus.

"But you have to remember to administer those every two weeks."

He said if owners were going on holidays in an area where ticks were more prevalent, they could

combine the two methods safely.

"It's an off-label procedure, but there is enough tolerance in these products that it poses little threat to the pet.," he said.

But he warned against trying to second-guess dosage rates.

"That's were we get a lot of owners bringing in pets, when they've bought a package designed for a big dog and tried to work out a dosage for two smaller animals," Dr Moody said.

He said it still meant pet owners had to check their animals for ticks.

"Ticks generally hide themselves around the head and neck of your pets, getting into their ears," Dr Moody said. "This can make them difficult to discover.

"If you think your pet has a tick or is showing symptoms, take it to your vet straight away."

Symptoms

Early signs:

 A change in voice; the meow or bark becomes softer and/or changes pitch.

 Weakness in the back legs; walking along then sitting down suddenly is a common early sign.

 Vomiting, especially if it happens several times in a day and you see froth.

Later signs:

 Wobbliness in the back legs.

 Excessive salivation and vomiting is not uncommon.

 Panting, progressing to loud breathing, even grunting noises.

 Many dogs will exhibit a moist cough and breathing problems before other signs.

Worsening signs:

 As signs of poisoning progress, the animals become unable to stand.

 Breathing becomes exaggerated and difficult.

 As breathing becomes more difficult, the gums become cold and blue-tinged. Death follows quite quickly.

Topics:  ticks, tick season, veterinarian




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