In case of an emergency please call 1300 JCU VET (528 838)

General Vet Services

Parasite Prevention

In Townsville, our pets are susceptible to being attacked by a number of creepy crawly parasites all year-round. Fleas, ticks and mosquitos (who transmit heartworm) thrive in our warm climate and not only cause discomfort to our pets, but pose serious health risks which can also be transmitted to humans.

Luckily there are a number of parasite prevention products available to protect our pets. Some of the most common parasites are listed below however, we always recommend that you speak with JCU Vet for your pet’s individual needs.



Fleas are a common problem for our furry friends, as they live on our pet’s skin where they feed and cause irritation, scratching and in some cases flea bite dermatitis and allergies (caused by the flea’s saliva).

To identify if your pet has fleas, you can check their coat carefully for signs such as:

  • Small brown insects moving around – they are approximately one-eighth of an inch, move very quickly and can jump extremely high
  • Check their skin carefully for signs of scratching or inflammation
  • Look for flea dirt (little clumps of black sand, which is actually the flea’s faeces and is composed of digested blood)
  • Use a flea comb to brush through their hair and capture some of the fleas/eggs

If your pet has a flea infestation, then it is highly likely that more fleas are present in their surrounding environment, your home. When clearing your house for fleas it’s important to consider:

  • Washing both your pet’s bedding and places they come into contact with such as your bed, throws/rugs on couches and towels
  • Spraying all surfaces with a safe, natural insecticide
  • Vacuuming all areas and surfaces – particularly carpets, rugs and couches
  • You may also need to consider hiring a professional company to inspect and assist

Prevention is key to prevention these nasty parasites – ask JCU Vet about the best solution for your pet which may include a flea comb, medicated shampoo, top-spot treatments, flea collar, tablets or chews.




There are a number of ticks in Townsville that can affect your pet including brown dog ticks, bush ticks are the very dangerous paralysis tick. Ticks mainly inhabit bushland, long grass and scrubby areas and will often attach themselves to pets. In the case of brown dog and bush ticks, their bites may cause discomfort, skin irritation and sometimes illness.

When a paralysis tick bites, their salivary glands release a neurotoxin which enters the host’s bloodstream causing paralysis of the muscles, as well as affecting the major organs. Some of the common symptoms associated with paralysis tick bites include:

  • Panting, or a change in their breathing i.e. laboured or increased
  • Raspy voice/coughing
  • Excessive salivation
  • Vomiting or regurgitation
  • Weakness in the hind legs/reluctance to move

If you suspect that your pet has been bitten, call JCU Vet immediately for advice, or bring them to our emergency clinic. Parasite prevention and daily tick searches are highly recommended to keep your pet safe. There is now a wide variety of parasite prevention products available for pets and you can ask your vet about the best solution for your pet which may include medicated shampoo, top-spot treatments, tick collar, tablets or chews.



Heartworm is a serious and potentially deadly disease caused by parasites that are found in the arteries of the lungs or heart of cats and dogs.

Townville’s warm climate is well known for attracting mosquitos and they play an essential role for transmitting heartworm to our pets. When a mosquito bites an infected animal, they can transmit and spread the heartworm larvae to another one. Once they bite the second animal, heartworm larvae can enter their body via the mosquito bite wound. The heartworm takes approximately six months to mature and may live in a dog for 5-7 years or a cat for 2-3 years, causing life-threatening damage to important organs.

Symptoms are difficult to detect particularly in cats, however, it’s important to look out for signs including a mild persistent cough, reluctance to exercise, fatigue, decreased appetite, and weight loss.

There are a number of ways to protect your pet including a yearly injection and monthly medications such as top-spot treatments and chewable treats. Ask JCU Vet about the best solution for your pet.


Intestinal worms

There are a number of different intestinal worms that can cause harm to our pets including roundworm, tapeworm, whipworm and hookworm. These parasites are hard to detect because they live in the pet’s intestines and have complex life cycles, which may affect the symptoms and treatment.

Symptoms are difficult to detect and may range greatly from coughing, vomiting, diarrhoea, lethargy, change in appetite, itching/scooting the bottom to visible worms in your pet’s stool (similar to grains of rice). When diagnosing these parasites, our veterinarians may also need to run these tests by our laboratory or examine the parasitic eggs from your pet’s stool.

There is a large range of effective products available to protect your pet, so an up-to-date worming treatment schedule is key to protection. There is also a risk that some worms may be passed along to family members, particularly children who may spend time in the same contaminated environment.

Book an appointment at our clinic and speak with our qualified veterinary team for more information and advice about the individual parasite protection needs of your pet.