I’m always on the look out for ways to prevent ticks on my pets (and on me!!). I use all the available products for pets but I wanted to take this a step further and attempt to eradicate them from my garden. Easier said than done in my next-to-the-bush, leafy Sydney backyard. TIck Safe to the rescue. I asked them to tell me and other at risk pet owners about their business…
Tick Bites In Your Pets; A Very Real Danger.
Of the more than two hundred Sydney gardens we have eradicated ticks from since the start of 2016 our customers fall into three main camps; families with small children being bitten, keen gardeners and, of course…. pet owners!
There are 75 species of tick in Australia, but in Sydney the tick you will most often come across is the notorious Australian Paralysis Tick, Ixodes Holocyclus. This is bad news for pet owners because it’s the paralysis tick that claims the lives of many hundreds of dogs and cats in Australia every year. Can ticks cause paralysis in humans as well? The answer is that they can, however cases are rare, although children under five years old are very susceptible. The reason for this rarity is probably because we humans can quickly tell when something is biting us and either use our own dextrous fingers to quickly remove it, or ask for help from someone else. Obviously pets can’t do this and by the time we notice the symptoms of tick paralysis in our pets it is, sadly, often too late.
Why do ticks bite in the first place? Ticks bite us to feed on our blood which they require so that they can shed and grow a new skin when they are in the early stages of their life cycle, and then as adults they need to eat blood to supply protein to produce their eggs – up to 4000 in a season. Once a female has laid all her eggs she has reached the end of her life cycle and dies – a cycle that takes from 12 to 14 months.
Don’t let anyone tell you that the very small ticks you might find are just harmless “grass ticks”! For a start there is no species of tick known as a “grass tick” – these small ticks are juveniles of the paralysis tick in the majority of cases and while they are far less likely to harm your pet than an adult tick, they will rapidly become adults themselves and importantly, they can cause allergy and illness in humans at this stage, too.
Tick numbers have soared throughout Sydney in recent years – a fact we hear repeated constantly by our customers. The reason for this is tantalisingly simple. Councils have run very effective fox culls, and with their primary predator gone the populations of many small, wild animals has exploded. Bandicoots are the best known example while possums, wallabies, large lizards, rabbits, bush turkeys and even echidnas have all thrived without foxes, and all of them can spread ticks.
In our experience of dealing with people who want us to get rid of ticks from their gardens, it is sadly often the case that they have already either lost a pet, or had one that’s been seriously sick; and it’s not just the emotional pain of having a very sick pet that hurts. The financial cost of vet’s bills can be astronomical. The father of a friend of mine spent $15,500 with his vet to save their beautiful dog. We hear of many more cases of cats being lost than dogs. In the past three months alone we would have seen at least five customers whose cats had lost the battle – one family had lost both their cats within a week. I believe this is because it’s easier to use a preventative tick medication in dogs than it is for cats. Medicines containing “fluralaner” (eg: Bravecto) will last four months against ticks in dogs and it seems that this has really reduced the number of cases of dogs suffering tick illness. It is thought that a cat version, which may need to be applied to the skin, will soon be available. We also hear that the new “Seresto” cat collar is working well against ticks. However, in Australia it is sold only as a flea preventative while overseas, the label states it can be used for ticks as well. Please consult your vet or pet store specialist about this as we can not give you veterinary advice.
Getting us to eliminate ticks and mosquitoes from gardens can also help give you peace of mind that your pet is better protected from dangerous bites – don’t forget that it’s mozzies that spread heart worm in dogs. Our methods are safe for pets and children and they keep on killing ticks months after we’ve visited. We are licensed by the NSW EPA and only use properly approved products and take all the right precautions. If you’d like to learn more please visit our website at www.ticksafe.com.au or call us directly on 1300 TICKSAFE (1300 842 572).
About Tick Safe
Simon Harvey is the co-owner of TickSafe and The Mozzie Team – a Sydney based business dedicated exclusively to controlling ticks, mosquitoes and midgies in suburban gardens. He is a self described “amateur entomologist” as well as a father, keen gardener and dog owner! He started TickSafe and the Mozzie Team two years ago with a neighbour after researching a solution to the tick plague they were experiencing in their own gardens in Middle Cove. It has now grown to become a full time business operation.
Footnote from Dr Jo
So far, so good. No ticks spotted on pets or on me!