What are ticks?
They are small blood-sucking parasites related to spiders and mites. Many species exist in the U.K, each preferring to feed on the blood of a different animal host such as deer, sheep and hedgehogs. However, if given the opportunity they will also feed from others such as cats, dogs and humans. We are most likely to pick them up when walking in woodland, forests, heath land and rough pastures, but can also get them from our gardens if there is deep vegetation and a strong local wildlife population.
As well as giving a nasty bite, they are also important carriers of diseases such as Lyme disease. It is estimated in the U.K around 3000 new cases of Lyme disease are diagnosed in people each year, but did you know it can also affect our pets? In dogs the common symptoms are lameness, swollen joints, anorexia, lethargy and fever, often appearing many weeks after a bite has occurred.
It is important to remove ticks quickly once found to reduce the risk of disease being transmitted. This should be done carefully to avoid leaving any head or mouth parts remaining in the skin. A special tick hook is the best way to remove them, this is slid under the tick at skin level and then gently rotated until the tick lets go and can be lifted clear of the skin. There are also many products available now for dogs and cats to prevent ticks from attaching and feeding, speak to your vet to find out which is most suitable for your pets.
Here at Anton Vets we are joining the big tick project, which is aiming to look at rising tick numbers in the UK and the risk of tick-borne diseases. We will be collecting any ticks found on dogs at the practice and sending them for analysis. For more information on this go to www.bigtickproject.co.uk. Here you will also find information regarding possible changes to the Pet Travel Scheme following Brexit. A few years ago the need to treat dogs and cats for ticks and tapeworms prior to return t the UK was removed. This has resulted in increased amounts of exotic diseases such as Babesiosis – these will not only affect the pets who have travelled but other pets too and even owners. Please back the campaign to ask Government to reinstate the tick and tapeworm treatments (there is a click through on the webpage) – it will make all pets a lot safer.