Watch out for ticks

THEY might be small, but paralysis ticks can cause big problems for the beloved family pet, a Kiama vet has warned.

Tick season has officially started, and lasts until April. Kiama Veterinary Hospital owner Peter Davis said the surgery dealt with 50 to 100 cases every year.

He has already treated two paralysed animals.

"You find ticks more often in areas with long grass, like the paddocks of Jamberoo - we certainly see more dogs from the farms in Jamberoo come in," he said.

"But any animal can get a tick in their backyard."

Mr Davis said while bush and cattle ticks could also be found in the area, the paralysis tick was the lethal species.

Paralysis ticks feed on the blood of a dog or cat and inject venom into the animal. Early signs of the ticks include lethargy, vomiting, panting and a change in the voice.

If unchecked, the tick causes paralysis in the hind limbs, difficulty breathing and eventually death if the symptoms are not treated.

Mr Davis said the earlier a vet could start treatment with anti-venom, the better.

The NSW RSPCA has advised pet owners to ensure they use tick prevention treatments including collars, sprays and medications.

RSPCA chief veterinarian Magdoline Awad advised pet owners to regularly check their pet's fur for anything unusual.

"Pay particular attention to the head, neck and forelimbs or other crevices around the body, such as the toes, where ticks might hide," she said.

"Owners should remove the tick immediately."

To remove a tick, grasp the tick close to its head with tweezers and pull it out without twisting.

Dr Awad advised owners to keep pets cool and to monitor them closely in case symptoms develop.

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