VETERINARIANS are warning dog owners to protect their beloved pets from paralysis ticks and the deadly parvovirus before it's too late.
The recent wet weather, combined with early high temperatures, means now is the time of the year that dogs are more at risk of falling ill from these two potentially fatal conditions.
Ripley Veterinary Hospital owner, Dr Andrew Hemming, said early prevention was the key to your best friend's survival.
"We push prevention really heavily and that's been across both our practices, here in Ripley and at Yamanto,” he said.
"It is much easier to protect tick paralysis and parvovirus, and cheaper, and healthier for the dog.”
When a paralysis tick latches onto your dog, the impacts on your pet's health and wellbeing can be very quick indeed, so a thorough check over of your pet regularly is vital. When checking your pet for ticks, feel for small lumps, not just on their torso but also in hidden places, such as under the collar, between toes and inside their ears.
"When a tick jumps on, it can be there anywhere between 24 to 48 hours. Or, if the tick isn't feeding quickly, it can sit there for up to a week,” Dr Hemming said.
"It is when the tick is feeding that can make your animal unwell. The paralysis is actually caused by the tick injecting saliva, so the ticks are spitting inside your dog.
"The tick actually cements itself into your dog. It has a good bite, and then lies down in like a glue or cement substance that attaches itself to your dog, and that is why they are really hard to get out.
"Often when people pull a tick off, they think the head is left. But ticks don't actually have heads. It is that glue and that reaction to the glue that makes it look like a head is left.
"A tick is basically a body, mouth parts and lots of legs.”
Dr Hemming is also urging all pet owners to ensure their puppies are vaccinated against parvovirus.
If your pets are not vaccinated from a young age, the risk of them contracting this disease and dying is very high.
Parvovirus can be transmitted by dog faeces and can live in the soil for a number of years. It can also be transmitted between contaminated shoes, beds and toys.
"All dogs need between two or three vaccinations, and they must be four weeks apart,” Dr Hemming said.
"The time between the second last and last vaccination is the most important.
"It is quite cheap to prevent against parvovirus with a vaccination, and the vaccines now are very effective.
"That carries them through to immunity and we usually do a booster around 15 months of age.
"Another thing we also do is titre testing, and that's checking the immune response to the vaccination, so we can see how protected those animals are.
"We have the option now of doing a blood test to make sure they are still covered.”
Ripley Veterinary Hospital is located at 15/20 Main St, Ripley.