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Vets bracing for what could be our deadliest tick season

Pet owners are splurging hundreds of dollars on clothes or bling for their furry friends, but when it comes to protection against parasites seven out of ten people forget to treat their animals on time!

Veterinarian, Dr Evan Shaw says too many dogs and cats are unnecessarily dying from parasites they could easily be protected from.

“Pet owners simply forget to give their pet’s parasite prevention or they are wrongly led to believe one product will cover everything when in actual fact, it doesn’t,” said Dr Shaw.

“Some products are given every 6 months, but weight gain from puppy/kitten to adult can lead to wildly insufficient dosages of parasite treatment leaving pets vulnerable and at risk of dying,” he said.

“Paralysis ticks are one of the biggest killers of animals with over 20,000 dogs admitted to vet hospitals each year on Australia’s east coast* as a result of paralysis ticks and around 5,000 lose their lives.”

“There are over 100 different products on the market to treat a wide range of parasites and no one product in Australia will cover everything, regardless of what they’ll tell you on TV.”

“Spring is the start of paralysis tick season, the most deadly tick species in Australia, with a single bite able to kill a large dog and requires immediate medical intervention.”

“Tick Paralysis symptoms typically include: a change in your pet’s breathing, heavy panting, excessive drooling, vomiting and an inability to swallow. Another tell-tale sign is “the wobbles” in their back legs progressing to complete collapse as they are slowly being paralysed from the tail up by the tick.”

Dr Evan was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis forcing him to retire from vet surgery but his passion to continue to save animal lives led him to create
Fleamail, a subscription-based mail order flea, tick and worming program specific to a pet's needs and delivered to your front door when you need to administer it to your pet, for less than going to a pet store or clinic.

“At the time I was also fostering a puppy called Sirius who I rehabilitated for 6 weeks and was adopted by wonderful people who I reminded to buy parasite medication - they ended up forgetting, as many pet owners do, and we had to put him down two weeks later because he had very advanced paralysis from a tick.”

“It was at that moment I thought about how many other people lose track of their pet’s health and so Fleamail was born.”

Dr Evan's Tips to help you spot a tick on your dog or cat:

1. Your dog acts strange.

After a tick bite, especially a paralysis tick your dog may show symptoms of weakness or not wanting to play like normal, no appetite, unusual panting and a “funny” cough or bark. If you notice any of these signs, please see a vet.

2. The “wobbles”.

The toxin’s effects progress from the tail towards the head so you might also notice what looks like your pet is a little “drunk” in their hind legs and an inability to raise their tail like normal.

3. Excessively licking and drooling.

While ticks are often in places where dogs can’t reach easily, your dog may excessively lick if it knows it has a tick and have a wet muzzle from excessive drooling

Pay close to attention if your dog keeps licking one, or a few spots. Common areas are your dog’s ears, groin or under their front legs.

4. Unusual scabs or skin irritations.

A tick may have had its fill and left your dog already, however the signs are often still there. Many dogs excessively nip or lick at the bite site. If you notice this behaviour or find scabs on your dog’s body, make sure to conduct a closer examination.

5. Check over your pet.

Run your hands over your pet and feel for a small bump that could vary from the size of a small pebble to a pea. If you feel any abnormality, grab the torch and get as good a look as you can. You can’t miss a tick when you find one.

6. Keep the tick for identification.

Once you’ve removed it, keep the tick in a jar or zip lock bag so you can get it identified by your vet if need be. 

If you notice any signs in your pet, or are the least bit concerned, please contact your local vet straight away.

About Fleamail

Fleamail is an affordable monthly subscription service delivering flea, tick and worming treatments based on the pet's size, age and location to homes across the country.

MEDIA RELEASE, 25th October 2021

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