How to spot ticks

how to identify a tick on a dog

There are three main tick species that infest dogs in Australia: paralysis ticks, brown dog ticks, and bush ticks. The most important of these is the deadly paralysis tick, found on the east coast, from northern Queensland to Victoria.


Most ticks need humidity and mild weather to survive. For this reason, ticks are most frequently found in the warmer months but can be found throughout the year. So you should always be alert to their presence and keep your dog protected with an effective tick control product all-year-round.


It is important to be aware of the signs your dog may show if infested with ticks. Bush ticks and brown dog ticks may result in skin irritation and anaemia. Paralysis ticks cause more serious disease. Signs of paralysis tick toxicity include: loss of coordination in the hind legs (wobbly or not being able to get up) which may progress to the front legs, change in bark, retching, coughing or vomiting, loss of appetite, or laboured or rapid breathing. Any of these signs may indicate the presence of a paralysis tick. If your dog shows any of these signs you should seek veterinary attention as soon as possible.


Finding ticks on your dog

When a tick first attaches to your dog, they are small and difficult to find. They enlarge as they feed, so the longer they are attached, the easier they are to find. Unfortunately, the longer they are attached, the more likely they are to cause problems. The majority of ticks on dogs can be found around the head and neck area, however they can be anywhere on the body so checking all over is required. It is recommended to check your dog for ticks daily, even if they are on a tick control product. And remember, you’re more likely to feel the tick than to see it, so make sure to use your hands to feel along your dog’s skin and give a thorough check - especially if they spend a lot of time outdoors.


To find ticks, it is recommended to walk your fingers through your dog's coat, feeling the skin surface carefully as you go. Pay particular attention to those hidden or hard to reach areas like under the collar and chin, between the toes, the paws, gum-line, lips, eyes and inside the ears. And don’t forget to feel along their body, making sure to check their belly, and then down their back legs and genital region, as ticks can be found there, as well as on the tail.


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