Paralysis ticks are on the move and your pooch or puss are their targets.
As of November 2023, Pet Insurance Australia reported a 900 per cent increase in paralysis tick claims compared to the year's cooler months; and based on seasonal history the risk is expected to continue right through to February.
The cost of saving your pet once it has been bitten can run into the thousands of dollars with an average around $2000. However bills in excess of $10,000 are not unheard of with some paralysed animals requiring life-support ventilators and 24/7 care for a number of days.
Having to leave your precious pet at the vets with the thought of a multi-thousand dollar bill is certain to put a big dampener on any family's Christmas.
"Tick paralysis is a terrifying situation for the pet and the owner," said PIA spokesperson Nadia Crighton.
"With the cost of living and the additional expenses of the festive season, prevention is much cheaper than the extensive costs associated with an emergency tick situation, not to mention the emotional toll of potentially losing your pet.
"A simple $50 tick treatment from your local pet supplies store will make your pet almost tick-proof for three months,"
PIA is also advising pet owners intending to travel with their pets this holiday season to check if the area is prone to ticks: and to be prepared.
"It's vital you keep up with your preventative treatments," said Nadia.
But ticks aren't the only danger facing our fur friends over the festive and summer seasons.
There is traditionally a spike in insurance claims for pet emergencies throughout the summer with Christmas a particularly dangerous time.
"We certainly see a big spike in claims for foreign body ingestion during the warmer months," said Nadia. "This can be due to a host of reasons including entertaining and not securing rubbish bins correctly, too many new and interesting items being left around cue the tinsel."
Vets regularly treat dogs for swallowed skewers, fishhooks, corn cobs, underwear and even puffer fish!
During the festive season, chocolate and alcohol are a definite no no - they are both highly toxic to dogs.
Overfeeding and being fed some human foods, including nuts, lollies, high-fat foods such as butter, and other pet toxic foods, can also pose a problem for dogs and cats.
Xylitol is highly toxic to dogs and can be found in many sugar-free lollies the children might be enjoying over this period. Being educated on the toxic foods that affect our pets can prevent many issues from occurring.
Nadia recommends keeping pets in a safe area during entertaining or when you cannot supervise them is a simple way to keep them safe.
Dogs are also masters at finding food - some breeds better than others. Young pups and dogs can also be ultra-curious when sniffing out something that can ultimately harm them.
"Dogs are natural scavengers, and thinking that Rover simply won't eat it is incorrect," she said.
Nadia has some sensible tips for keeping fur friends safe over the festive season and at any time.
Remember, it may not be easy to find a vet open during the holiday season so pet owners are advised to know where their nearest emergency vet is and keep contact details readily available.
Top tips for summer
- Ensure bins are correctly secured and cannot be accessed by your dog.
- Keep dogs away from entertaining situations when you cannot fully supervise them
- Encourage guests to refrain from feeding your pet
- Snap skewers into small pieces when putting them into the rubbish
- Do not feed your dog corn cobs
- Put signs up notifying guests you have a dog and to shut the gate
- Never leave chocolate or alcohol in reach of your pet
- Secure fishing tackle boxes and keep rods up high with hooks firmly attached
- Keep all chemicals, including gardening sprays and bait, secure and out of reach
- Train your pet to keep away from the Christmas tree.