Living in the tropics sounds like an amazing kind of lifestyle-unless you have pets. You then get to worry about all these awesome things like ticks, fleas, snakes and cane toads all of which could cause harm to your pet. Here is some first aid tips.
Fleas are rampant in the tropics. Not only are they itching and really uncomfortable for dogs, the scratching can cause a secondary infection. Because of the humidity this infection can take a long time to heal. Getting a tick and flea spray around the house ( professionally) can do wonders in reducing infestation. Treat your dog with an oral flea treatment rather than topical as it can easily wash off in the wet climate. If your dog has suffered an infestation you can use flea wash treatments but one of the most effective treatments is olive oil. Olive oil spread over the whole body suffocates the fleas and assists in healing the skin and reducing the itch factor. Apply liberally to the dog rubbing deep into the skin making sure you get under the armpits, belly and around and under the tail and partially inside the ears.Leave on for at least 24 hours before rinsing off with warm water. Be sure to follow up with a oral flea treatment if required.
A relatively harmless tick, this one is not poisonous to the dog. Mostly it is an annoying bug and can cause skin irritation, but in extreme cases of infestation they can cause anaemia. You can get the local vet to give your dog an injection of ivermectin once a month to keep them away or use topical tick treatment. Keep in mind topical treatments may wash off during wet season so the injection is a much more effective method.
Sometimes when an infestation of fleas and ticks is really bad it is better to shave the dog completely to allow for easier treatment and make the dog more comfortable
Found in areas of NSW and up towards QLD. The paralysis tick is especially hard to detect. If your dog is bitten and the poison has spread it will generally start off showing signs of a change in voice, weakness in the back legs often stopping and starting when out walking and vomiting several times throughout the day. As the poisoning progresses you can expect to see shaking, wobbliness, excessive drooling/vomiting or and laboured breathing. Some people like to wait around and see if the symptoms get worse especially if they find the tick and remove it, however, it's better to be safe than sorry. Once the poisoning gets to the point of heavily laboured breathing the dog is unlikely to have a lot of time left. Instead just get it to a vet as soon as possible.
Prevention is better than trying to cure so regularly check over your dog for any ticks. You can purchase special tick combs to help although they are not foolproof. Keep your dogs away from scrubby areas or overhanging bushes as the ticks can attach simply from brushing past a bush that has them on it.
Cane Toad poisoning in dogs will usually happen form the dogs either licking the toad or killing it. The poison secretes from the toad's skin and depending on the amount ingested, will give the dog a "high" or make it really ill. The first sign of cane toad poisoning is foaming at the mouth. The foaming can be excessive drool up to a bright yellow full-on foam.
Some first aid you can give the dog is to grab the hose and turn it just above a trickle and wash its mouth out, making sure you keep the head pointed towards the ground so that it drains out of the body along with the poison. The idea is to get the poison off the tongue and gums. Often, if you caught the dog early, this should be enough ( and it is a large breed.) Sometimes they will still get high and might be extra energetic for a while, racing around the house so watch them over the next few hours and if they worsen take them straight to the vet. Personally if a small dog ( under 10kg) had eaten or caught a toad I would get it to the vet straight away and apply first aid on the way using a soaked face washer and wiping over the gums and tongue from back of the mouth to the front. If you are ever unsure how much has been ingested by the dog or they appear very unwell, call your vet for advice. Generally the most humane method of killing a cane toads is catching them and popping in freezer to go to sleep. Despite being amphibians,they are some of the most invincible creatures and "knocking them on the head" with a shovel is surprisingly ineffective and cruel so please choose humane methods.
Try to make your home as unfriendly to cane toads as possible. Empty out any water buckets/kid pools or ponds. You can also put black plastic or rubber around the bottom of your fences up to about a metre high as toads cannot jump or climb over them.
While pythons seem to be more common than venomous snakes, knowing what to do and where to go when your dog is bitten is important. It is a good idea to check the vets in your local area as to who stocks anti-venom so you don't waste time going to a vet clinic that doesn't. In the event of snake bite, do your best to keep your dog calm. That means you stay calm too, as the dog will pick up on your state of mind. If they have been bitten on a limb, bandage the limb firmly but do not use a tourniquet. Get straight to the vet. Call ahead if possible so they can be ready to take the necessary blood tests to identify the type of snake it was. Do not ever try to catch the snake. Again prevention is key. Don't allow your dogs to be kept in an area that could be considered a "snake haven." An old aboriginal trick that I used on our rural property and found highly effective for both pythons and venomous snakes, was to plant lemongrass around the house. It kept them away from the house the whole time I lived there until I gave it away to a friend as I was moving interstate. I had three snakes in four days!
Remember, keep your fur babies safe!