AS TICK season approaches, CQUniversity Animal Studies and Veterinary Nursing teacher Courtney Liddy has urged Central Queenslanders to pay extra attention to their pets.
"As it starts to get warmer and into the wet season, we do generally see a higher incidence of pets being affected by ticks,” she said.
"It's important, especially if you have animals in a rural setting, to watch for signs. If they're wobbly in the legs or if they have trouble drinking or eating or if you've taken them camping in the last week, that's usually indication that they have a tick problem.”
Courtney, who is a trained veterinary nurse based in Gladstone, delivers the Certificate II in Animal Studies at CQUni and tick dangers are one of the key learning areas that she passes on to her students.
"The key way to protect your pets is to give them protection with treatments such as Advantix, which is a once-a-month spot-on treatment applied directly onto the skin between the dog's shoulder blades,” she said.
"But if you have a dog and a cat and they spend a lot of time together, then Advantix is not recommended as it is toxic to cats. Instead I would suggest using a tablet called Nextguard for your dog. Nextguard is also recommended for dogs that spend a lot of time in the water as a spot-on's effectiveness starts to wane when the skin is repeatedly wet.
"It's important to maintain the treatment regimen each month and not let it lapse during the winter months.
"Owners should also be aware that some tick treatments have a shorter efficacy and may only cover the dog for two weeks, not a month like it covers for other ticks, so it is imperative that owners read the label thoroughly before using the product.”
She said pet owners also needed to be aware of the differences between tick species.
"The bush tick or brown tick are not toxic but they can cause anaemia if in large numbers,” she said.
"They are brown in colour and all their legs are on the sides of their body. If you find these ticks you should wash your dog and remove the ticks carefully with special tweezers that you can buy from your local vet.”
She said the paralysis tick was the more dangerous type and could be difficult to identify.
"These ticks are grey, diamond shaped and all their legs are in the front of the body.
"Unfed paralysis ticks are harder to identify because they're not completely grey and may appear brown,” she said.
"If your dog has paralysis in its legs or trouble breathing and you find these ticks do not attempt to remove them. Take your dog to the vet immediately.”
She said places to look for ticks included under the armpits of the front legs, in the ears, under the tail, on the belly and in between the toes.
Long haired dogs were likely to have them in the belly area so owners should ensure they check the animal thoroughly.
If you discover a tick and are unsure about its type, or if your dog exhibits any symptoms of paralysis, call your local vet straight away.