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With the high season for ticks upon us dog and cat owners are being encouraged to prevent serious harm or death by checking their pets regularly for the little suckers.

Experts at the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) are warning that dog and cat owners must be vigilant at this time of year, particularly when travelling to tick prone coastal areas.
"The tick season, which runs all year round in northern Australian, is at its height from Spring through to Autumn in southern areas," says AVA President, Dr Mark Lawrie. "Dogs on holiday are particularly susceptible when they are playing in tall grass in areas where their owners may not be aware that tick problems exist."

"One of the most obvious physical signs in dogs is an unsteady and staggering gait brought on by hind leg weakness from the tick toxins. Ticks are most commonly found around the head and neck, as well as on the chest and the front leg; however they can latch on to any part of your dog or cat," says Dr Lawrie.

A severely affected animal will gurgle and choke and will be unable to bark properly due to paralysis of the throat. Other animals may start to cough when eating or drinking, or may cough up water or food. Some animals may also develop respiratory distress. It is vital to take action immediately if you notice any of these symptoms.

Ideally in tick prone areas dog and cats should be checked daily. This is most usefully done by running your hands over the animal to feel for anything unusual. In cats they are often around the back of their neck where they cannot groom. Often more than one tick will be found.

Your veterinarian can give you further advice on tick prevention products and how to remove ticks. If there is any concern you should contact your local vet for advice, as even after removal of a tick there may be progression of the signs over the next 24 hours.

Australian Veterinary Association

Last Update: 25/02/10 09:53 Views: 9836

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