STAY VIGILANT: Paralysis ticks are a threat to pets on the Coast.
STAY VIGILANT: Paralysis ticks are a threat to pets on the Coast.

Vet issues warning as tick season peaks

IF you've got a furry friend, it's possible you're worried about the large number of ticks around.

James Clarke-Williams from Goonellabah Veterinary Hospital said there had been a lot of tick cases coming through their doors in recent weeks.

"(We've had) about one or two a day and we're only a small practice, the larger vets would be seeing more," Dr Clarke-Williams said.

He said it can be a frustrating time for vets with some pet owners ignoring the warning signs for ticks.

About paralysis ticks

  • They can look different depending on whether they're engorged with blood or not. When engorged with bloodthe tick has a blueish to light-grey/grey colour. Familiarise yourself with their appearance - check at your local vet clinic as they usually have posters and photos of ticks.
  • Once on the animal, the tick becomes deeply and firmly embedded in the skin. When a tick attaches to the skin, the area becomes red and a raised thickening or "crater" may appear. A crater is evidence of a prior tick attachment.

"People get complacent," he said.

"People say 'we've seen a heap of little black ticks', but those are the baby ones, those are the warnings.

"We have them all year round up here but this October has been the worst month of the year."

Dr Clarke-Williams said while it is not just dogs and cats that are affected by ticks, they are often the hardest hit.

"All animals get ticks," he said.

Dr Clarke-Williams said there were some simple steps owners could take to help minimize the risk of their pets being affected by ticks.

Symptoms of tick paralysis in pets:

  • Loss of coordination in the hind legs or not being able to get up
  • Weakness in back legs
  • A change in the sound of the bark or voice
  • Retching, coughing (sometimes it is a moist cough), vomiting
  • Excessive salivation/drooling
  • Loss of appetite
  • Progressive paralysis
  • Difficulty breathing or rapid breathing
  • Grunting noises when breathing
  • Any other abnormal behaviour or symptom


"I think the big thing when they've got the big coats is getting the hair off them in the summer," he said.

"Cut the coat back, they don't need all that hair in the heat. Get it off the face and the ears and the belly.

"It makes it easier to search them (ticks) every day. But then you've got to worry about sunburn.

"Be observant.

"When your dog is lying around on a hot day, don't just think they're lying down because it's a hot day."

He also advised that it's best to keep cats indoors during tick season and to try and keep dogs out of any long undergrowth.

He said if owners do find a tick on their pet they should remove it immediately, and be aware of the symptoms.

Dr Clarke-Williams said ticks generally affect the host animal's heart and lungs.

"If they've got a cough, that's the lungs," he said.

"If they're lethargic, that's serious, don't wait until the next day to call the vet."

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