The Miniature Assassin: Your Guide To Being Tick Smart

by Sophie O'Shea / Pet Owner Advice / 9 Aug 2017

The Miniature Assassin, Tick, Paralysis Ticks, Tick prevention, How to check for ticks, when are ticks active.

It’s winter, the weather’s cold and rainy, meaning you and your pet aren’t spending quite as much time outside.

You’d think your pet would be safe from the clutches of the paralysis tick wouldn’t you? Unfortunately, this isn’t the case.



Tick are the most active from August through to February/March. The paralysis tick (or Ixodes holocyclus if you want to get scientific) is less active during winter, but not dormant. 

Ticks like moist, warm environments and have a life cycle that can mean they are out and about at all times of the year.

This means that regardless of the season, after periods of rain and/or slightly warmer weather your pet (and you) may have picked up a few hangers-on.

Ticks can’t jump, they climb or fall from plants to an animal or person and once on board they can crawl so even if you own the tallest of tall Great Danes.

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It’s important to check everywhere because you never know where those ticks might have ended up.

As a general rule ticks prefer the head and warm, protected parts of the body.

This means that ears, in between toes, and underneath shoulder and hip joints are particular spots to pay close attention to.

It’s also important not to forget around the eyes, mouth and under the tail, while it might not seem like ticks would end up in such places, they can and do take up residence there. 

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There’s plenty of information out there on the best way to remove ticks, but it gets even more confusing if you find yourself reading about tick removal in other countries.

Australia is the only place in the world that has the paralysis tick so international methods for dealing with other types of ticks can be quite different to paralysis tick recommendations. 

The best way to find out how to remove ticks safely from your fur baby is to ask your vet. They can also tell you about preventative methods that might be available to you.

But what if you have to remove ticks at home and don’t have access to your vet?

Do you go with tweezers and a sharp twisting motion or the tick twister or something else entirely. 

Veterinary Nurse Diana Batson of the Woombye Veterinary Surgery says current recommendations are based around aggravating the tick as little as possible during removal.

“Remove the tick directly with a tick twister - rotate and pull and off comes the head and everything. Anything that aggravates the tick will cause it to release more poison so you want to make sure of the least aggravation before they die,” Batson said.

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If you don’t have a tick twister handy the RSPCA recommendation involves using just a simple pair of tweezers.

“The recommended method for removing ticks from dogs involves grasping the tick as close to the skin as possible with tweezers and pulling it out. If possible no parts of the tick are left behind (such as the mouthparts),” Dr Mandy Paterson, Principle Scientist for the RSPCA Queensland said.

Dr Paterson says to be mindful of changes in behaviour.

“Be aware of the initial signs of tick poisoning such as lethargy, change in voice (barking and meowing can be effected), gagging, vomiting, and staggering and if you see any of these contact your veterinarian."




Recently developed methods of prevention have had great success at lowering the risk posed by ticks for dogs and cats.

There are various products avaliable which include chewable tablets for dogs and a topical application for cats that almost completely removes the risk of your pet being affected by paralysis ticks.

Regular checking for and removal of ticks helps to prevent your pet from having to undergo a traumatic and expensive experience.

If you’re worried about ticks, or have found a few lately, it’s probably worth a quick phone call or appointment to discuss your options and ensure you and your fur-baby are as safe and stress free as possible.


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