Warmer weather means pets are at a greater risk of illness, but local vet specialists have weighed in on how to best keep four-legged friends happy and healthy as summer approaches.
At this time of year, ticks, heartworm and sun exposure become common threats which place a small animal's health at risk, but there are many things owners can do to protect their dog or cat.
Kooringal Veterinary Hospital said spring grants the perfect conditions for allergens and irritants which impact the health of humans and pets alike.
However, this year's above-average rainfall is proving the perfect breeding ground for deadly parasites, particularly paralysis ticks.
'Dot' the dachshund had returned from a family trip to the coast when her owners began to notice that she wasn't acting quite herself.
What staff found at Kooringal Vets was a paralysis tick in her ear, causing her lethargy, limb weakness and a build-up of gas in her stomach and intestines.
Dot is now in recovery, but Kooringal Vets wish to remind pet owners, especially those who intend to bring animals with them on holidays, to use preventative treatments according to the label, with the symptoms of a bite going potentially noticed for weeks even if the tick has fallen off.
Veterinarian Rosemary McKean from Morong Veterinary Centre also said that it is important to treat pets with flea and tick treatments, with parasites equipped to hitch a ride in traveller's camping gear.
"So we are pretty lucky in Wagga we don't have to worry too much about paralysis ticks as we're outside the natural range of the paralysis ticks," she said.
"However, if we head over to the coast with or even without our pets, then we have to worry about ticks," she said.
"A general rule of thumb is if you go to the coast, make sure you use a prevention product and certainly the tablets that are available are the best, and you still want to check your animal every day to ensure they aren't hosting a tick."
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According to Kooringal Vets, time is crucial if an owner does discover a tick, and removal can be as simple as wedging a fingernail or a tick removal tool under the parasite's mouth before seeking medical attention.
However, they aren't the only parasite that may cause illness in small animals, with heartworm-carrying mosquitos posing their own risk to pets.
Dr McKean said that although heartworm only causes a potential threat to animals in the Murrumbidgee irrigation area, pet owners in Wagga should still use prevention medicines.
"Heartworm is only transmitted between animals by a mosquito biting an infected dog or cat and then biting your pet and it's also very easily prevented either by injection or by one of those monthly chews," she said.
"Leeton and Griffiths have cases quite frequently every year, so we [Wagga] do need to be careful being that close."
Health concerns linked to increasing temperatures are also on the mind of Dr McKean's who said that extra attention should be given to ensuring pets have a cool, safe place to escape the spring-summer heat.
"Look out for your animals and think of them as an extended part of the family during hot weather," she said.
"Just like us, our pets can be impacted by heat. If they can't find shelter, they may suffer from heatstroke, and they can also overheat if they're exercise too hard during the hot weather."
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