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Tick & Flea Prevention

In the Ku-Ring-Gai area, fleas are a problem all year round for dogs and cats, while ticks are more of a problem in the spring and summer. Sometimes we see cases of tick paralysis at other times of the year, particularly in very bushy areas where there are lots of possums and bandicoots residing (ticks’ natural hosts).


What are Paralysis Ticks?

Paralysis Ticks (Ixodes holocyclus) is a nasty parasite that can be fatal to dogs and cats in Australia. They are common down the east coast of Australia during spring and summer, however paralysis ticks can be found all year round. Possums and bandicoots are the natural hosts of the paralysis tick, meaning that the tick lives on them quite happily without making them sick. Ticks attach to our pets as they walk through grass or bushland where native fauna such as possums and bandicoots have been. Most pets are affected without even leaving their backyard!

How do paralysis ticks make my pet sick?

Paralysis Ticks have a year long life cycle, consisting of eggs, larvae, nymphs and adult paralysis ticks (the most dangerous stage). Adult paralysis ticks have a pear to oval shaped body and are usually grey in colour. They attach to the skin of the dog or cat and feed on their blood. While feeding, the tick secretes a toxin (poison) from its mouthparts which effects the animal’s nervous system. When ticks first attach they are small but they increase in size over about a week as they become engorged with blood. They range in size from a few millimetres to 1cm in width as they feed more.

What are the symptoms of paralysis tick poisoning?

  • Wobbly gait, especially hind legs
  • Muted barking
  • Rapid, noisy breathing
  • Slow, grunting breathing
  • Coughing, gagging, drooling & vomiting
  • Less apparent signs include lethargy & loss of appetite
  • Once signs of paralysis tick poisoning appear, dogs and cats can become ill very quickly. If your pet is showing any symptoms, it is important they are seen by a vet immediately. The earlier the treatment, the better their chance of survival. If left untreated they will die. The vet administers tick anti-serum which prevents any further poisoning from the toxin. Hospitalisation and other treatment may be required for several days.

What are Larval Ticks?

  • The eggs of a paralysis tick are laid in grass and scrub. When they hatch, the larvae wait for an animal to brush past and then jump on. Sometimes, if a pet has wandered into a tick nest, hundreds of tiny larval ticks (often known as grass ticks) will jump on all at once, leaving your pet very itchy and irritated. These pin-head sized larval ticks usually don’t cause paralysis but still need treatment, so please contact us if you notice anything suspicious.

How should I protect my pet from ticks?

Preventing tick paralysis is a much safer and cheaper alternative to treating the condition once it has occurred. Oral or topical preventatives have become the cornerstone of prevention of this potentially fatal disease and are discussed below.

  • Search pets every day for ticks

The most important tick prevention is a thorough search of your pet’s skin and coat every day during the paralysis tick season. This should be done even if tick control products have been given.  It is best to feel for ticks with the tips of your finger. Adult ticks are often at least 3mm in diameter. Start in the common places such as the head and neck, ears and face. About 70% of ticks are located in these areas (Don’t forget the lips). Then move to the rest of the body, using all 10 fingers to creep through your pet’s coat, looking for a bump or irregularity. Remember also to check in between the foot pads.

If you find a tick, try to remove it as quickly and smoothly as possible. Do not attempt to kill the tick first. Hold onto the tick’s body and pull and twist firmly. There is an excellent device called a Tick Twister available at Gordon Vet Hospital which makes life easy when removing ticks. Grip the tick as close as possible to its mouthparts (where it meets the skin) to avoid leaving these in. If in doubt, it is always best to call us for advice.


How does my pet get fleas?

It all starts with a few adult fleas jumping on to your pet, be it at the park, on a bushwalk, kennel / cattery or even in your own garden. From here the lifecycle of the flea begins and they can breed at an enormous rate. Before you know it you have an infestation that is hard to control! Fleas are a real pest to dogs and cats in Australia, causing them constant itchiness, hair loss and irritation. Getting a flea problem under control on your dog can also be a real pest to pet owners!

What is the flea lifecycle?

  • It starts with adult fleas: They can jump 150 times their body length, easily jumping from dog to dog or cat
  • Once on the coat they feed on the dog or cat’s blood and the females start laying eggs
  • Eggs – Female fleas can lay 2000 eggs in their lifetime – 50 eggs per day. The eggs drop off into the environment where they live in carpet, furniture, bedding and gardens (i.e. in your home!)
  • Larvae – The eggs develop into larvae which burrow further into carpets away from light. They live on organic debris in the environment, spin a cocoon to become a pupa and mature to an adult
  • 95% of the flea population is the immature stages in the environment. Only 5% are adults living on the dog or cat!

How do they breed so fast?

Under the right temperature conditions the flea lifecycle from egg to adult is shorter (2-3 weeks). This is during spring and summer when it is warmer. During winter, the immature egg and larval stages can lie dormant in the environment for up to 6 months. Then when the temperature warms up, they all complete their life cycle and mature into adults, causing a sudden explosion of adult fleas and a massive infestation in your home! Today, with more in home heating the flea cycle usually continues all year round. More than 500 fleas can hatch from a 40cm x 40cm piece of carpet!

What are the signs of a flea problem?

You can see fleas in your dog or cat’s coat by parting the coat near the base of the tail. If no live fleas can be seen, sometimes flea droppings are visible (small black specks).

Sometimes pets can develop an allergy to fleas, called Flea Allergy Dermatitis. It is caused by the flea saliva and they develop a nasty painful dermatitis (skin problem) when they are bitten by a flea. Most of the time, this skin reaction is around the tail area in dogs but can be anywhere in cats. Since only one flea bite every 10 days can keep these allergic pets scratching, it is unusual to actually find fleas on the pet at the time (particularly in cats). These pets need to see a vet as soon as possible.

What is the best way to treat fleas?

The only way to treat fleas is to stop the flea life cycle. 95% of the flea population (and problem) is in the pet’s environment (i.e. where they live), so to properly treat a flea infestation it is necessary to treat BOTH the pet and the environment. Year round use of flea treatment and prevention is recommended to keep fleas under control. All pets in the household must be treated and if a treatment is missed, the problem can continue for months more.

The effective options for flea and tick treatment in dogs and cats are:

  • Spot on Treatments (Topical products) – More information below
  • Tablets (Chewable) – More information below
  • Environmental Treatment – Indoor treatment includes regular vacuuming of the carpet to remove the eggs and stimulate the dormant fleas. Steam cleaning the carpet kills flea larvae also. All bedding that the pet sleeps on should be washed in hot, soapy water and left to dry in the sun. Foggers or surface sprays that target fleas contain highly effective chemicals to treat inside the house. The best ones contain an ingredient to kill both adult fleas and the other life cycle stages (insect growth regulators). For the outdoor environment, professional treatment with an adult flea killer is recommended for gardens and dog kennels.

Tick and Flea Prevention Products

In addition to daily searching, regular administration of tick and flea control products greatly reduces the risk of tick poisoning and flea allergy dermatitis.

Be aware that tick control products indicated for dogs only are NOT suitable for use in cats. We recommend:


    • Bravecto Chew – A chewable tablet given every 3 months
    • Bravecto Top-spot – A liquid medication applied to the back of the neck every 6 months
    • Nexgard Chew – A chewable tablet given once a month
    • Advantix – A liquid medication applied to the back of the neck every 2 weeks (highly toxic to cats)
    • Seresto Collar – A neck collar that is replaced every 4 months for ticks


    • Bravecto Top-Spot – A liquid medication applied to the back of the neck every 3 months
    • Revolution Plus – A liquid medication applied to the back of the neck every month (also covers most intestinal worms)
    • Seresto Collars – A neck collar that is replaced every 4 months of ticks (off label use)
    • Frontline Spray – A spray applied every 3 weeks over the body of cats (Use gloves and rub into skin and coat)
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Gordon Vet Hospital
Based on 116 reviews
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Lisa Elliott
Lisa Elliott
06:17 20 Oct 20
I can't rate Gordon Vet Hospital any higher. I took my 11yr old staffy in for surgery with the beautiful Imogene Ewen (amazing surgeon) and was managed by incredibly professional front office staff (Maddie). My dog, Coco was in the best of hands. The after care service is detailed and their love of animals is so very clear to all who enter. Exceptional service for the North Shore.
Jonathan Summers
Jonathan Summers
09:51 09 Oct 20
We love these guys. We have 3 cats and they are all well looked after.
jo kleoudis
jo kleoudis
22:08 04 Oct 20
Best vets and nursing staff. Great advice. Convenient and always easy to book.
Roopam Ghosh
Roopam Ghosh
10:49 25 Sep 20
Great service and very prompt with appointments. Lovely staff
Michelle Keir
Michelle Keir
08:30 01 Sep 20
Great service my dog loves going there! The staff are very caring and the vets very knowledgeable and do not over service.
Ayanthi Gooneratne
Ayanthi Gooneratne
06:22 24 Aug 20
The Vets are fantastic and so are the support staff. My dogs have been with Gorden Vets for over 10 years.
Steve Walker
Steve Walker
11:33 11 Aug 20
Helen was great. Took great care of our dog.
Eve Barratt
Eve Barratt
01:17 04 Aug 20
I took our little girl Coco for her very first vet visit yesterday. Dr Helen gave Coco a thoroughly check-up and provided me with useful information as the first time puppy owner. Coco is now enrolled in the puppy school and will return back for her 2nd vaccine in a couple of week!
Claire Turner
Claire Turner
05:21 19 Jul 20
Care & attention for your furry friends second to none.
02:50 09 Jul 20
Dr David and the team have provided real care, support and expertise for our furry family members over 25 years. They've also readily taken in injured wildlife. A great team of Vets and nurses - thanks for all you do!
Jayna Hirani
Jayna Hirani
03:43 09 Apr 20
Quality care and advice at every visit. The staff are friendly and informative and genuinely care about your pets. I am 100% confident that my cat and dog always receive the best pet healthcare and as pet parents that's all we want.
Marianne Broeng
Marianne Broeng
23:23 28 Jan 20
Gordon Vet has looked after my golden retriever since she was 9 weeks. Everyone has been amazing and caring with lots of experience. I have been able to ask any questions and always been welcome. Even one day when she stepped on a bee in the evening, they stayed open until we got there and helped her get it out. Thanks to all the staff :-)
Lizzie Wei
Lizzie Wei
00:56 18 Jan 20
We just moved to Gordon couple month ago and need to get my cat vaccinated. We found this hospital through google and I need to say they provide excellent service and very professional! The doctor really knows cat. Highly recommended!
Lara Bisley
Lara Bisley
08:15 27 Nov 19
Exceptional veterinary hospital. I have been taking my dog here for many years and although I now live in the Eastern Suburbs, I still drive across town to see the Vets at Gordon. The staff are highly skilled, compassionate, friendly and helpful. My 9 year old dog has had 2 knee operations (1 on each knee!) and the outcome of these surgeries far exceeded my expectations. I have been incredibly impressed with the care provided during all of our visits. I would highly recommend Gordon Vet Hospital.
Eugenie Goodyer
Eugenie Goodyer
23:22 21 Oct 19
Very friendly staff. Wonderful care for all our animals A++
Jennie Keogh
Jennie Keogh
06:36 21 Oct 19
Fantastic and friendly staff who you can tell really care about your pet. Their follow up service is also very reassuring. I also board my cat with Gordon Vet and I feel very comfortable to know he's in safe and caring hands. I'm so glad I found this clinic.
Newsha Amiri
Newsha Amiri
20:24 03 Oct 19
We took our dog there and Dr. David take care of his skin issues. he was so caring and professional.
Luxe Sydney Mum
Luxe Sydney Mum
06:37 02 Sep 19
Compassionate, caring and highly skilled veterinary surgeons who treat their patients and owners with respect. The nursing and administration staff are efficient and remember their patients by name which is a lovely touch. A lovely vet practice which despite our Golden Retriever Finn’s complex medical history, is always welcoming to him and he never displays any signs of anxiety when attending. Dr Helen is lovely and a firm favourite of ours!
Lihong Xing
Lihong Xing
05:00 05 Nov 18
Highly recommend Dr David, Scott, Helen, and Catherine, I've taken my cat to see all the doctors here.
Jeremy Tarbox
Jeremy Tarbox
22:55 10 Sep 18
We found a stray, agitated dog in front of our house last night. We phoned but got no help from the Council ranger who gave two options: tie him up in front yard overnight or "let him loose, he'll find his own way home" :( So we phoned Gordon Vet: they stayed open a few minutes so we could run him up and he could have a bed and dinner. Thank you Gordon Vet Hospital, hope he gets home soon!!! :)
Vishal Kapoor
Vishal Kapoor
01:52 04 Sep 18
Really amazing staff members. Their systems and processes are also very
Gerry Stevens
Gerry Stevens
11:01 14 Jul 18
Good competant vet. Did what I needed. Staff friendly. Cat's well.
Arezu A
Arezu A
03:20 15 Feb 18
Absolutely love the service here. I switched from other Vets to this Vet as the staff here are quite attentive and really care about your furry baby! I have basically seen most of the Dr's here and all of them so far have been fantastic, friendly and fun to speak with! Easy to locate and enough parking available! 5 Stars indeed!
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