PARALYSIS ticks could be particularly bad this season and vets on the Northern Rivers are warning pet owners to be vigilant.
They are the single most dangerous parasite for dogs on the east coast.
Just one tick can cause paralysis and even death.
The recent mild and moist weather has provided the perfect conditions for tick development, so a bad tick season is expected.
Alstonville Veterinary Hospital's Dr Mike Fitzgerald said it comes on top of a bad season last year.
"The season starts in September and continues through Octo- ber and November," he said.
"Tick development is affected by the weather, so it is a concern for pet owners that the weather has provided ideal conditions.
"But the cornerstone of preventing tick paralysis is thoroughly searching your dog or cat every single day.
"You only need to have one tick to kill your animal.
"We also recommend shaving your dog or cat."
It doesn't matter whether you live near bushland or keep your pet indoors; Dr Fitzgerald said he had even seen newborn puppies suffer from tick paralysis.
"The risk is never zero," he said.
"The animal can go from normal to dead in less than 20 hours, so you really need to be vigilant and check your dog at least once a day. Twice a day would be better.
"If you find an engorged or partially engorged tick, you need to get treatment straight away."
If a paralysis tick bites a person, it can cause itchiness and a hard lump.
Symptoms become more seri- ous if the tick engorges itself, and these can include flu-like symptoms, rashes, an unsteady gait, weak limbs and partial face paralysis.
And if the deadly paralysis tick isn't enough to scare pet owners, snakes are also making an early appearance.
Dr Fitzgerald hasn't treated a snake bite victim at his vet surgery yet, but he said that snakes were definitely on the move.
"I had one report the other day of a big brown snake in Alstonville.
"The initial reaction from a dog is that they might collapse, and that would happen almost immediately.
"After that they might get up and act perfectly normally, but you need to get them to a vet.
"The earlier the animal has the anti-venom, the better.
"We see about 10-12 snake bites a year and most survive."
SYMPTOMS OF TICK PARALYSIS
Loss of co-ordination in the hind legs (wobbliness in the back legs) or not being able to get up
A change in the sound of the bark or voice
Retching, coughing, and/or vomiting
Loss of appetite
Progressive paralysis to include the forelegs
Difficulty breathing or rapid breathing
Any other abnormal behaviour
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