9 July 2021

WA’s leading animal welfare organisation is urging people travelling with their dogs in the north of the state to make sure their pets are well protected against ticks.

E. canis (ehrlichiosis) is a potentially fatal disease, transmitted by tick bites. It was first seen in Australian dogs in May 2020 in the Kimberley. Since then, cases have been detected in dogs in every state and territory except the ACT and Tasmania.

RSPCA WA’s Animal Welfare Policy Officer, Dr Talia Morgan, said the state’s north is still of concern when it comes to the disease, with anecdotal feedback suggesting an increase in the number of cases are being reported.

‘This is the time of year when many people head north for some warmth, especially given it’s school holiday time,’ Dr Morgan said.

‘If you can’t leave your dog at home, then we urge you to make sure your dog is as protected as possible.’

The RSPCA advises owners talk to their vet about an effective tick control program before travelling.

RSPCA WA Animal Attendant checks a rescue dog for ticks‘Even with a preventative tick program, owners need to be vigilant and inspect their dogs for ticks every day, especially if in a tick-infested area,’ Dr Morgan said.

‘This can be done by running your fingers through your pet’s coat over their skin and feeling for abnormal bumps. It is important to pay particular attention to your dog’s head and neck, chest, between their toes, in their ears and around their mouth and gums.’

It is essential owners contact a vet if they find ticks on their dog or if their dog is showing signs of ehrlichiosis. Symptoms include fever, lethargy and loss of appetite. Ehrlichiosis in dogs requires immediate veterinary treatment for the best chance of recovery.

WA’s Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development is conducting surveillance for the disease and has placed conditions on dogs moving out of northern WA to reduce the risk of the disease spreading to southern WA.

Ehrlichiosis is a nationally notifiable disease. If you suspect your dog is showing signs of the disease you must report it to your local vet or the National Emergency Animal Disease Watch hotline on 1800 675 888.

To find our more, head to the RSPCA’s Knowledgebase.