Ticks are parasites found throughout Australia. These blood-sucking pests can be life-threatening for dogs and cats. Learn how to keep your pet safe with tick prevention treatments and regular tick checks.
What are ticks and how do they affect pets?
Ticks are parasitic arachnids that attach themselves to the skin of dogs and cats. Not only do ticks feed off blood, they secrete toxins into the bloodstream which can cause paralysis and death. To put it simply: they’re the worst!
Although ticks are more prevalent during the warmer months, you should remain vigilant throughout the year. Ticks are carried by native animals such as possums and bandicoots, and they can find their way to cats and dogs in grassy areas. Your pet is most at risk if they walk through the bush – however ticks have been known to turn up in urban environments as well.
Can you prevent ticks?
Fortunately, ticks can be prevented. There are a range of different tick prevention treatments available for cats and dogs: it’s best to talk to your vet about which product is most suitable. In the event that your pet picks up a tick, there are also treatments that can kill a tick after it has attached itself to your pet’s skin.
In addition to preventative treatments, daily tick checks are recommended if your pet is exposed to natural environments.
Here we’ll explain the various types of treatment products for tick prevention. Dogs have different requirements to cats: always read the label carefully before use.
These are the most common types of tick prevention treatments:
- Oral medication – Chews and tablets are a good option as long as you can get your pet to swallow it. These medications are absorbed into the bloodstream of your pet and last for around 30 days.
- Tick collars – These are suitable for dogs who regularly walk through bushland areas. They work by continually releasing a chemical that repels ticks. Some tick collars can last for up to 8 months.
- Topical medication – Also known as a ‘spot-on’ treatment, this type of tick prevention is applied directly to your pet’s skin. These treatments usually last for 30 days.
- Sprays – Tick sprays can be applied directly to the coat of your pet, however care must be taken to avoid the mouth and eyes. The entire coat must be sprayed to offer full protection.
But how does tick prevention work, exactly? In the next section we’ll explain how these preventative medications function to keep your pet safe.
How does tick prevention work?
Tick prevention medications contain an active ingredient that attacks the nervous system of the parasite so they can’t feed on your pet. These treatments are not harmful for dogs and cats.
There are differences in how oral and topical tick treatments work: some are absorbed directly into your pet’s bloodstream, while others are distributed across their skin.
If you’re unsure which type of tick prevention is most suitable for your pet, talk to your vet. They will be able to prescribe a medication that is tailored for your pet’s lifestyle and temperament.
Does my dog need tick prevention?
As a general rule, if your dog spends time in bushland, rainforest, national park or undergrowth areas, you should use tick prevention medications and perform daily tick checks.
We recommend that you get into the habit of checking your dog’s coat for ticks every day after you come home from a walk. This can be done by running your fingertips through your dog’s fur to make sure their skin is free from ticks. Areas to focus on are your dog’s head, neck, shoulders and chest – although ticks can sneakily attach themselves to any part of your dog’s body.
If you have a cat that spends time outdoors, it’s also a good idea to check for ticks. In addition to using topical tick prevention on cats, you should regularly check your cat’s skin around the head, neck, ears, shoulders and armpits. You should also check the area between the pads of your cat’s paws.
If you discover a tick, it’s best that you take your pet to the vet immediately so they can safely remove it. In situations where you can’t access a vet, ticks can be removed using tweezers or a tick-removal device.
Tick awareness saves lives
Although ticks can seriously threaten the health of your pet, you can keep them protected with preventative measures. Talk to your vet to find tick prevention solutions that are suitable for your pet.