Fleas are the most common external parasite of companion animals and flea allergy dermatitis is the most common skin disease of dogs and cats! Flea control has always been a challenge for veterinarians and pet owners because the adult fleas cause the clinical signs, yet the majority of the flea population (eggs, larvae and pupae) are to be found off the pet in and around the home. The ideal flea control program utilizes products that target the various stages of the flea life cycle, not only the adult fleas on the pet.

Environmental control is extremely important. Often we have pet owners unsure of why their pets keep attracting fleas and majority of the time it’s because they haven’t treated the house against the parasite. Making sure you have a flea free home will prevent infestations on your pets. This doesn’t mean you have to call out the pest control man, simply purchasing a flea bomb from your local supermarket will be sufficient in removing any hidden fleas in your carpet, floorboards or in any hidden cracks. The next step is to make sure your pet is treated monthly with flea prevention. For infestation products can be used more regularly to attack the fleas fast but ask your local vet for advice on this. At Vetmed we recommend the following preventative products. There are a few to choose from (this depends on what worming treatment you are currently giving):

  • Bravecto (controls fleas & ticks) 3 months for fleas/4 months for ticks
  • Activyl (controls fleas only ) Monthly topical dose
  • Comfortis (controls only fleas) Monthly tablet dose
  • Panoramis (same as comfortis, includes worming treatment) Monthly tablet dose
  • Advantix (Flea & Tick ) Monthly for fleas/ Fortnightly for ticks, topical dose
  • Advocate (Fleas, heartworm & intestinal worms) Monthly topical dose
  • Advantage (Fleas only) Monthly topical dose


  • Revolution (Fleas, heartworm & intestinal worms) Monthly topical dose
  • Advocate (Fleas, heartworm & intestinal worms) Monthly topical dose
  • Advantage (Fleas only) Monthly topical dose


  • Speak to your Veterinarian for the best advice


There are 3 types of ticks found in Australia, these are the Bush tick, Brown dog tick and the Paralysis tick. The first 2 ticks cause a local reaction, however the paralysis tick can cause life threatening disease.
Paralysis ticks are found along the east coast of Australia. They are common on the Northern Beaches the South and Central Coast and some areas of the North Shore.The paralysis tick is a grey coloured tick that is most active between September and January, however animals have been affected all year round.
The life cycle of the tick involves going through nymph stages which is usually done on bandicoots. Each stage needs a meal of blood. The tick climbs on vegetation awaiting the next creature to come past. When it gets on a pet the tick bites and secretes saliva into the pet from biting. This is a powerful toxin that causes paralysis. It takes 34 days after the tick has been encouraged in the animal until signs of paralysis occur.

The signs of tick paralysis include:

  • Weakness of the back legs
  • Change in bark or meow
  • Increased effort in breathing or a cough
  • Retching or salivating
  • Collapse

If untreated these signs are frequently progressive and can result in death due to respiratory or cardiac arrest.
If you notice any of these signs contact us immediately (or one of our after hours services), even if you cannot find a tick.

Removing a Tick

If you do see a tick you should try to remove it. The best way to remove the tick is by twisting and pulling either using a ‘Tick twister’ ( sold at our hospitals) or gently holding with a pair of tweezers, twisting and pulling (Just look to make sure it is a tick and not a lump or skin tag ). There is no concern about squeezing more poison in as it just constantly produces saliva thus the sooner it is removed the better. People also are worried about leaving part of the tick in. This may cause local irritation but no further paralysis.
Treatment of paralysis is most effective when the animal is showing mild signs. This is because we can only stop the progression of the paralysis. To allow the paralysis to recover needs time and supportive care.
To treat tick paralysis we often clip the pet to look for any other ticks as it is impossible to treat unless all ticks are removed. The animal will then be slowly given TAS, tick antiserum and hospitalised. Other treatment will be given depending on the severity of the paralysis such as oxygen therapy if the patient is experiencing respiratory troubles.
And of course prevention is best. This is achieved with tick control such as Bravecto. Tick collars can also be effective but can only be used in dogs. The only product registered for tick prevention in cats is Frontline spray & Frontline plus. Refer to the list below for further tick prevention products. Unfortunately no product is 100% effective in preventing ticks so it is essential that a daily tick search is done. You should run your hands through your pet’s coat feeling and looking for ticks.
Consider a full clip for dogs and long hair catsthis will enable easier, regular tick searches.


  • Bravecto (Ticks & Fleas) 4 months for ticks/ 3 months for Fleas, chewable tablet
  • Advantix (Ticks & Fleas) Fortnightly for Ticks/ Monthly for Fleas, topical dose
  • Scalibor (Ticks only) 3 month tick collar
  • Frontline Plus (Ticks & Fleas) Fortnightly for Ticks/ Monthly for Fleas, topical dose


  • Frontline plus (Ticks & Fleas) Fortnightly for ticks/ monthly for fleas, topical dose
  • Frontline spray (Ticks & Fleas) Fortnightly for ticks/ monthly for fleas, topical spray