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Mid North Coast vets are urging pet owners to be extra vigilant and to stay on top of tick prevention as the shortage of tick antitoxin serum nationwide continues.
The tick season is well underway with large numbers of paralysis tick cases presenting to vet clinics due to the wet and warm weather.
Bonny Hills Veterinary Clinic's Dr Stephanie Lindeman said all vets are affected to some degree by the antitoxin serum shortage.
"Once the supplies are used up, we cannot reorder until it becomes available again, and as the production of tick serum is a slow process, this doesn't happen quickly," she said.
On Tuesday, November 15, Dr Lindeman said the clinic had enough antitoxin serum to treat between three and four medium-sized dogs.
"We have been advised by emergency centres of the maximum dose of tick serum to use per animal, so as to ration the supply."
Dr Lindeman said this is the busiest tick season she has seen in six years.
"Since May we have treated 28 pets, not all of which survived. All of these 28 cases were not on any tick control, or the control had lapsed and was overdue," she said.
Port Macquarie Veterinary Hospital, in a post on their Facebook page, said they are "pleading with all dog and cat owners" to put their pet on tick prevention.
"With all the wet weather we've had this year, this has been a terrible season for tick cases, with multiple cases seen every week," the post said.
Greencross Vets chief veterinary officer Dr Magdoline Awad said paralysis ticks are "extremely serious".
"Without tick antitoxin serum supplies many pets could be at life-threatening risk," she said.
"We want pet owners to be aware that ticks can be life-threatening and any pets who are not currently protected by a preventative treatment need to be treated immediately."
Dr Mitch Edwards of Macleay Valley Veterinary Services is advising pet owners to keep up to date with good quality tick prevention.
"This is something we recommend... all year round," he said. "But [it] is of critical importance now."
Dr Lindeman agreed and said prevention is key.
"There are many easy and very effective tick control products out there now, it is a no-brainer not to use them," she said.
"Despite trying to get the message out there, many people still forget to use it, or do not think that their pet is susceptible. We recommend tick control all year round."
Paralysis ticks are small parasites that are found along the East Coast of Australia. They attach to pets and inject a toxin that causes progressive muscle paralysis that can be fatal if left untreated.
Signs of tick paralysis in pets include wobbly back legs, retching, lethargy or collapse, difficulty breathing, trouble swallowing or a change in their bark or meow.
If you find a tick on your pet it is an emergency, contact your vet immediately for advice. If your regular vet is closed, contact an after-hours emergency vet.
If you suspect your pet has a tick or is unwell, please contact your vet immediately as it could be an emergency.
If you remove the tick before going to the vet, take the tick along with you so the vet can identify it. If you do remove the tick, you still need to get the animal to the vet as soon as possible to begin treatment.
It is estimated that around 10,000 animals are presented to veterinarians every year with signs of tick paralysis.
Even with treatment, it is estimated that around one in 20 affected animals die.
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