Australia’s first National Tick Awareness Month

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Despite the widespread impact of paralysis ticks on Australian pets, pet owners remain largely in the dark – a survey showed that only 53% of owners living in paralysis tick zones and 41% of owners living in non-paralysis tick zones were currently protecting their dog

Companion Animal Network Australia (CANA) congratulates its corporate sponsor Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health for launching Australia’s first National Tick Awareness Month for Pets in August.

Timed to coincide with the beginning of the highest risk period for paralysis ticks (spring and early summer), National Tick Awareness Month for Pets shines a spotlight on the dangers of paralysis ticks and call on dog owners to be compliant with tick control.

Despite the widespread impact of paralysis ticks on Australian pets, pet owners remain largely in the dark – a survey showed that only 53% of owners living in paralysis tick zones and 41% of owners living in non-paralysis tick zones were currently protecting their dog with an effective tick control product like NexGard® or NexGard SPECTRA®.

Andrew Palmer, Head of Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health Australia, says National Tick Awareness Month for Pets is an opportunity to an initiate a conversation with pet owners on the importance of tick control, including among those who like to travel with their dogs.

“Cases of tick paralysis can occur at any time of year. What concerns us is just over half of dog owners living in a paralysis tick area are staying on top of tick control,” Mr Palmer said.

“The aim is that National Tick Awareness Month for Pets will better educate pet owners, including those who live outside paralysis tick zones, on the dangers of paralysis ticks – after all, ticks do not discriminate, and dogs who travel with their owners to paralysis tick zones, are at risk too.”

Australian Paralysis Tick Advisory Panel

In 2016, Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health supported the formation of the Australian Paralysis Tick Advisory Panel. The panel seeks to close the gap in understanding of the dangers of paralysis ticks by conducting and reviewing scientific research and developing guidelines on the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of tick paralysis in pets.

Dr Ellie Leister, a specialist in Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care, is one of nine members of the Australian Paralysis Tick Advisory Panel. Dr Leister has been studying the impact of the launch of the isoxazoline class of parasiticides, such as NexGard® and NexGard SPECTRA®, on tick paralysis in pets.

Dr Leister and her resident, Dr Emily Ireland, performed a search of hospital records for tick paralysis cases presenting to two Animal Emergency Services clinics in Queensland, with 10,914 cases of tick paralysis in dogs being diagnosed between March 2008 and March 2021.

“Our research shows that since 2015, when the new isoxazoline class of tick control products became widely available, there has been almost a 50% reduction in the number of cases of tick paralysis presenting to veterinary clinics,” Dr Leister said.

Given it is estimated that less than half of pet owners in these regions are compliant with tick control, a nearly 50% drop in case numbers is a remarkable demonstration of the effect this innovation has had on animal wellbeing.

“From reviewing information on the distribution and seasonality of ticks, the panel has reached a consensus: protecting pets from ticks only during the higher-risk warmer months is not enough. The panel recommends the year-round use of isoxazoline tick control products for all dogs and cats that are living in, or travelling to, known paralysis tick regions,” Dr Leister continued.

The Australian Paralysis Tick Advisory Panel have produced updated guidelines for veterinary clinics, which include advice on the management of the complicated patient, an approach to ongoing monitoring of tick paralysis cases and a diagnostic approach to suspected tick paralysis cases.

New to the guidelines is a section on critical care, incorporating best practice fluid therapy, oxygen supplementation and sedation protocols.

For access to resources developed by the Australian Paralysis Tick Advisory Panel, visit animalhealthacademy.com.au.

For more information on National Tick Awareness Month for Pets, including how to best protect dogs from ticks, fleas, mites, heartworm and intestinal worms, visit nexgard.com.au/tickcheck.

 Brand Tracking research, IPSOS, 2020

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