Alex Dalland

As the Spring weather gets warmer, vets across the North Shore are urging pet owners to watch out for the signs their pet might be carrying life-threatening ticks.

Recent data from Greencross Vets across New South Wales and Australia suggests an alarming increase in reports from pet owners regarding ticks, jumping from between 20 and 100 in the cooler months to over 500 cases per month as the weather gets warmer.

“Unfortunately, each year thousands of pets across the country are affected by tick paralysis,” Dr Rachel Chay, Chief Veterinarian at Greencross Vets says.

“Symptoms to look out for include loss of coordination in the hind legs or not being able to stand up; vomiting; loss of appetite; lethargy; difficulty or rapid breathing; change in bark or meow and excessive salivation.”

Many types of ticks, including bush ticks and paralysis ticks, love living in long grass and native bushland – meaning that areas like Sydney’s Upper North Shore and Northern Beaches are some of the worst areas for ticks nationwide. Added to the usual seasonal increase in the area’s tick population, factors such as unusual weather patterns, overgrown gardens and a growing number of bandicoots mean that tick numbers and reports to vets are even increasing in the off season.

Whether or not you suspect your pet has a tick, it is important to check them thoroughly during the hotter months by running your fingers through their fur, searching all over their skin – ticks can be found anywhere, including inside their ears, between their eyes or on the end of their nose.

During warmer months it is also a good idea to invest in tick-prevention products, which can help repel or kill ticks pets may pick up when outdoors. These include tick collars, spot treatments like Frontline and oral medication such as Nexgard, a chewable tablet for dogs. Tick medication differs depending on the type of animal, so it is always important to check with vets or retailers to find one that is right for your pet.

“Regularly using tick prevention products will not only be less costly than treating tick bites for pet owners, but could potentially save your pets life,” Petbarn Chatswood Store Manager, Chadd Chesnutt says.

“We would encourage locals to come down and speak to our expert staff about the most appropriate prevention product for their furry friend.”