Vets urge owners to ensure they have a tick and flea prevention plan in place over winter

The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) is encouraging pet owners to talk to their veterinarian about parasite protection for their pets over the cooler months.

AVA President, Dr Paula Parker, said that even during winter, fleas and ticks can remain real dangers, so it’s important to continue treatment all year long.

“Although you may not see them as often in the winter, fleas, ticks, and other parasites can still live quite comfortably outside and in your home,” she said.

“Paralysis ticks tend to attach to the head and neck area of the pet and on the chest and the front of the leg but can be found on any part of the body. Ticks release a toxin when they feed, which leads to a potentially fatal condition known as tick paralysis.”

Common initial signs of tick paralysis

  • Difficulty walking
  • Gurgling and choking
  • Dogs may not be able to bark properly

Dr Parker said that pet owners should also check dogs and cats regularly by running their hands over the animal to feel for anything unusual.

“If you find a tick, even if you are able to remove it, it’s still important that your pet is seen by a vet as soon as possible. Pets can be affected by the toxin for several days after the tick has been removed,” Dr Parker said.

Thankfully, there is a range of preventive and safe tick and flea products available. Continuing prevention through winter helps to minimise the risk of exposure to deadly parasites and also helps keep flea populations under control.

Pets owners should speak to their local veterinarian who can advise on the best prevention method for their situation and type of pet.