Importance of grooming your cavoodle during summer and tick season

As a cavoodle owner you can definitely get swept up in the whole “teddy bear” look and letting their coat grow out over winter. However once the warmer weather starts it’s time to think about getting them clipped and ready for tick season. 

I can tell you first hand how hard it is to lose a cavoodle due to one little nasty tick. It’s absolutely heart wrenching and that’s why I want to share my story with you so you don’t have to go through the same terrible experience. 

Here are the 3 main reasons it’s important you get your cavoodle trimmed to a manageable length during spring, summer and also groom them daily. 


1. More comfortable for your cavoodle:

If you like to take your cavoodle out for daily walks or runs, as the weather gets warmer it's a good idea that you get the groomer to clip their coat shorter than usual so they don’t overheat. But be sure they don’t shave them down to the skin otherwise this can lead to sunburn, rashes or skin sensitivities. 


2. Easier to maintain coat daily: 

With the warmer weather also brings out things in the grass like bindi weeds. All Australians know these little prickly things can be such a pain, but when they get stuck in the coat of a cavoodle with fleece or even woollen hair it can be a disaster and the source of some very large matting, especially on their belly hair and behind the ears! If your cavoodle’s coat is clipped shorter these bindis will have less to hold onto and you will be able to spot them straight away and remove them. 


protect your cavoodle from ticks


During summer it’s also common to let your cavoodle jump in the pool or take them to the beach. With a long coat if you don’t wash them with fresh clean water straight away the chlorine, salt or sand starts to make the coat stiff, dull, dry and can irritate the skin causing it to become flaky. A dry stiff coat can lead to knots or matting, so with a shorter coat it’s a lot easier to maintain. 


3. Easy to spot ticks early:


As mentioned I personally have lost my own beautiful cavoodle girl (Roxy) to tick paralysis years ago. Even though she was always clipped short and on tick prevention, we spent a weekend down the south coast of NSW in summer and she loved going on long beach walks with me, but little did we know a small tick had hid itself in her facial hair near her moustache (between the nose and mouth). 


When we got home she was perfectly normal up until about 48-72 hrs later when we noticed she was vomiting up green liquid and we could see she was dragging her hind legs on the floor like she was becoming paralysed and couldn’t lift herself up. We quickly rushed her to the vet and they had found the tick and said they needed to treat her for tick paralysis. A couple thousand dollars later, the vets managed to save her, but because they needed to keep her on fluids at the vet for a few days, she was so fragile and stressed about being in a new environment away from us her little heart gave out and she passed away. 


It was a really sad and tough time for my family to go through this so that’s why i want to share with you the importance of keeping your cavoodles coat maintainable and what to look out for. 


So, what’s a tick?  Ticks are small parasites that range from a brown, grey to black colour and sometimes can look like a wart on the cavoodle skin, if you look closer on inspection it has eight tiny legs. They are usually between 3mm and 10mm in diameter and attach with their mouth making a hole in the skin which can often be painful or itchy while they inject small amounts of toxic saliva into your cavoodle. See pictures below:

cavoodles and ticks


Are ticks deadly to cavoodles? YES, ticks are extremely dangerous parasites to cavoodles that can result in paralysis, heart failure and death within a few days of signs presenting. If you find a tick on your cavoodle or even if you are not sure if it is a tick, we STRONGLY recommend you take your cavoodle to the vet ASAP! 


Symptoms of tick paralysis: 

  • Wobbly back legs
  • Reluctance to jump or walk
  • Weakness climbing stairs
  • Coughing or grunting
  • Retching, regurgitating or vomiting
  • Change in bark or meow
  • Difficult or fast breathing
  • Complete paralysis or collapse

The tick can live up to three weeks before it is fully engorged and begins injecting its toxin. Hotter weather will cause faster engorgement and thus quicker paralysis. 


What is the treatment from the vet?

Here is a list of actions vets will take to treat your cavoodle for a tick according to the Australian Animal Emergency Services:

1. Sedation to help calm your pet. Pets get very distressed when they cannot move or have trouble breathing. Sedation will help in removing any anxiety
2.  Oxygen therapy if having difficulty breathing
3. Emergency intubation and manual ventilation - If your pet is having a lot of trouble breathing, either from severe paralysis or there is vomit inside the lungs (aspiration pneumonia) tube is placed down your pet’s airways and a nurse will breath for them.
4. Tick search and removal of any remaining ticks
5. Medications - Tick antiserum or Antibiotics (if suspected lung infection from breathing in vomit).
6. Blood tests - Assess your pet’s ability to breath, Monitor hydration status and electrolyte levels (commonly lost through vomiting).
7. X-rays - If your pet is having trouble breathing
8. Intensive nursing care - your pet won't be able to urinate as their bladder is paralysed; a nurse will need to help empty their bladder regularly, help change your pet’s position to prevent pressure sores since they cannot move, provide medications for your pet’s eyes when they cannot blink to prevent development of eye ulcers, perform multiple tick searches throughout hospital stay, conduct full-body tick clip – this helps in finding further ticks, use anti-parasitic shampoos to eliminate any remaining ticks, in case they are too small to be found by hand
9. Mechanical ventilation - For pets too paralysed to breathe or severe lung disease they cannot breathe (from breathing vomit into their lungs)


How much can treating tick paralysis cost?

Some tick treatments can be very simple and inexpensive. While others can range from $5,000 up to $10,000 in the most severe cases according to budget direct pet insurance.


Does pet insurance cover tick paralysis?

Some pet insurance policies have an annual limit for paralysis tick treatment, so insurers will only cover you up to a certain amount. It's really important that you make sure it is included in your policy and the higher amount you can get covered for the better! 

Here are just a couple insurance companies and policies that show how much cover they provide for tick paralysis online along with the limit amount per year:

  • Medibank 
    • Essential Pet care - $1000
    • Ultimate Pet care & Emergency Pet Care - $1,200
  • Bow wow meow
    • Peace of Mind Plan - $2000 
    • Ultimate Care Plan $3000
    • Ultimate Accident & Illness Cover $ 1,200
    • Economy Accident & Illness Cover $1,000
    • General Accident & Illness Cover $2,000
  • Budget Direct Dog Insurance - $1500


How to prevent your cavoodle from getting tick paralysis?

1. Use tick and flea treatments consistently. Some brands include:

    • NexGard
    • Bravecto
    • Advantix
    • Simparica


    2. Keep their coat short and well maintained during tick season (anywhere from September to the end of summer). 


    3. Check for ticks on your cavoodle daily and especially after going to the park, on walks or the beach.

    The most reliable way to locate ticks according to Pittwater animal hospital is to systematically run your fingers through their coat. Press your fingertips down to the skin level and draw systematic little circles trying to cover the whole skin surface. Start at the nose and move along between the nose and eyes. Search in the lips and around the ears. Especially important to search long haired dogs very thoroughly between the eyes and the end of the nose as this is a common area for ticks to be missed.