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Ticks and Fleas


The most common life threatening condition that concerns us each year is Tick Paralysis. We strive to continually pre-warn clients about the tick season, so that they may be prepared.      Nationally the mortality rate from tick paralysis cases that are hospitalized is 5-7% (1 in 20!). That’s a huge mortality rate in our eyes and one that can be combated.  So don’t delay – talk to our staff about the best methods of prevention and early detection and be prepared.

Some general info about ticks

Paralysis ticks, also called dog ticks, shell backticks or scrub ticks are a serious parasite occurring on the East Coast of Australia. They inject a toxin causing paralysis that can be fatal in domestic animals, both pets and livestock. The toxin can also affect humans. More than 80,000 cases of tick toxicosis, mainly in domestic pets, are treated each year in eastern Australia.

Paralysis ticks are native to Australia and their natural hosts are marsupials, principally bandicoots, but also others such as echidnas, possums and wallabies. They also infest cattle, horses, other livestock and domestic pets. Native animals are usually immune to the paralysing toxin because of their frequent exposure to tick infestation. However, they do maintain a reservoir of paralysis ticks in a particular area. Paralysis ticks tend to be associated with bushy or scrubby areas which harbour the native animal hosts but they can still be picked up in open paddocks, road verges and other areas.


Factors contributing to poisoning

Host Factors:

  • Species affected
  • Sensitivity to toxin
  • Age of animal affected
  • Concurrent work factors
  • Reaction to environmental factors
  • Skin reactivity
  • Population density

Tick Factors:

  • Toxin absorption and circulation dynamics
  • Virulence
  • Paralysis-inducing capability
  • Sexual activity
  • Rate of infestation
  • Frequency of the sucking stage

Early signs include:

  • Dysphonia or loss of voice (laryngeal paresis)
  • Hind limb in coordination and weakness
  • Change in breathing rhythm, rate, depth and effort
  • Gagging, grunting or coughing
  • Regurgitation or vomiting
  • Dilated pupils


In case of severe disease, your dog will need to be hospitalized for intensive care and nursing support. Respiratory paralysis is an emergency and needs immediate veterinary medical attention.

Identifying and detaching the ticks is the first step to preventing the further release of toxins and aggravating the symptoms. Even if no ticks are found, an insecticidal bath may be given to your dog to kill any ticks that may be hidden in the folds of the skin. In some cases, this is the only treatment required and the dog will soon start showing signs of recovery. However, in cases with respiratory paralysis, oxygen supplementation or some other form of artificial ventilation will be required to keep the dog breathing.

If the animal is dehydrated, intravenous fluids will be given, along with medications that can be used to counter the effects of the toxins on the nervous system, and to relax the muscles enough so that the dog can breathe.


For the best recovery, you will want to keep your dog in a quiet, cool environment. The affects of the toxins are temperature dependent and at high temperatures aggravation of symptoms may increase. Physical activity should also be temporarily avoided, as activity can increase body temperature and aggravate symptoms. Encourage your dog to relax as much as possible until a full recovery.

We recommend:

NEXGARD, which is a monthly chew and kills ticks and fleas;

ADVANTIX  tick treatment, which is a spot on and is used fortnightly to prevent paralysis ticks or monthly for flea prevention;  NOTE:  ONLY FOR DOGS – IS TOXIC TO CATS

Kiltix tick collar for dogs which lasts 6 weeks for paralysis ticks;

Preventic tick collar for dogs which lasts 8 weeks for paralysis ticks;

Scalibor tick collar which lasts up to 3 months for paralysis ticks;

Frontline Spray for cats.

Talk to our veterinary team about the best tick preventative treatment for your pet.


Fleas are the most common external parasite of dogs. Even the best kept dogs can potentially be infested with fleas, especially if they regularly leave their property or have roaming cats or possums passing through your property. Left untreated the infestation quickly becomes a much bigger problem, and can lead to other things such as tapeworm infection, anaemia (low red cells in the blood) and skin conditions such as flea allergy dermatitis.

The flea life cycle is resilient and takes committed compliance from owners to get on top of the problem.  Understanding the life cycle of the flea will help pet owners in deciding on the best course of action to combat a flea infestation.


The Complex Flea Life Cycle

The flea life cycle is comprised of four developmental stages:  the egg, the larva, the pupa and the adult flea.  The time it takes for a flea egg to develop into an adult flea can vary from as little as 12 days to as long as 325 days.

FLEA EGGS  up to 40-50 small, white (0.5mm) flea eggs per day may be laid by an adult flea on your pet.  These flea eggs fall off the pet’s coat into the environment within 8 hours of been laid.

FLEA LARVAE  Flea eggs hatch into larvae within one to 10 days. Flea larvae are mobile;  moving away from light, towards moisture and the ground.

FLEA PUPAE  Within 5 – 11 days, flea larvae spin a sticky, silk cocoon to become pupae.  Pupae can remain dormant for up to six months, depending on environmental conditions.

ADULT FLEAS Young adult fleas are stimulated to emerge from the cocoon by your pet’s body temperature, movement, shadows and exhaled carbon dioxide.  Within a second, your passing pet may acquire newly emerged fleas from the home environment (for example:  under the house or veranda, within the pet’s bedding, under leaf matter in parks or from the garden).

The adult fleas then mate on the pet within 8 – 24 hours.  The producton of flea eggs begin within 24-48 hours of their first blood meal.

Adult fleas, the life cycle stage you see on your pet, make up just 5% of the total flea population.  Ninety five percent of the population is made up of eggs, larvae and pupae, which can be found in your pet’s environment.

DID YOU KNOW:  The most common way pets pick up fleas is from the environment.  Fleas rarely jump from pet to pet.