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Do you know all the risks and how to keep you pets safe?

What you must know to keep your pets safe

Ticks can cause serious and potentially fatal diseases in dogs. Read on to find out everything you need to know about ticks on dogs and how to keep your dog safe.

When you own a pet, the last thing you want is for them to be bitten by ticks. They are common parasites of dogs and cats around the world, and Australia is no different. There are different types of Australian ticks to be aware of, particularly the Australian paralysis tick, which can cause deadly tick paralysis symptoms.

As a dog owner, you need to know what to do to protect your dog against ticks, and what to do if your dog gets a tick. Take a look at how to identify ticks on dogs and what to do if you find a tick on your dog.

What do Dog Ticks Look Like?

To identify ticks you need to know:

  • What do dog ticks look like?
  • What does a tick bite look like on a dog?
  • What does an embedded tick look like on a dog?

Ticks on dogs tend to be about the size of an apple seed when they have not fed, and can vary in colour, depending on the species. After they attach to the skin and take a blood meal from their host, ticks become ‘engorged’. When this happens, they can be as big as your little fingernail. Not all ticks look the same, and ticks tend to look different throughout their lifecycle, so if you’re not sure if it’s a tick, it’s best to consult your vet.

The Types of Ticks on Dogs

There are three main tick species that infest dogs in Australia: paralysis ticks, brown dog ticks, and bush ticks.

  • Paralysis Ticks: Paralysis ticks are typically found along the east coast of Australia, from Cape York in the north, all the way down to Lakes Entrance in Victoria. They are occasionally seen outside this area (e.g. the greater Melbourne area). They are one of the most dangerous parasites that can affect your pet as they produce a toxin which causes tick paralysis in dogs and cats.
  • Brown dog ticks: The brown dog tick is widely distributed throughout Australia. Although these brown ticks cannot cause paralysis, they can cause skin irritation and heavy infestations may result in anaemia from excessive blood loss. Brown dog ticks can also transmit potentially fatal infections from one dog to another. Ehrlichia canis is one such bacteria that is transmitted by brown dog ticks. This potentially fatal brown dog tick disease was identified for the first time in Australia in 2020.
  • Bush tick: Australia is home to bush ticks which are found along parts of the east and west coast. If you find a bush tick on your dog, it is important to remove it. Bush ticks can cause skin irritation and can also transmit potentially fatal diseases when they bite (e.g. babesiosis).