Ticks on the rise

A dramatic increase in the number of dog ticks discovered in the UK

tickA tick is an 8-legged parasite that loves to drink your dog’s blood. They are miniscule and difficult to see, but once they’ve attached themselves to your dog, they can swell almost to the size of a pea, submerging their mouth-parts into the dog’s skin. They can be brown, red or black in colour and range in size up to half an inch long.

As recently reported in the news, around a third of dogs in the UK, around a third of dogs in the Uk have been found to be carrying a tick.  have been found to be carrying a tick. These mini blood sucking insects may give your dog more than just a slight irritation, as the mini-beasts that look like a spider carry the bacteria that is accountable for Lyme disease, a potential, serious health risk, not only for dogs but also for humans. They can also cause paralysis and anaemia in some cases. If the tick contains disease, it will pass the infection into your dog’s bloodstream through its saliva. The longer the tick is attached to your dog’s skin and feeding, the higher the chance of your dog contacting an infection.

Highest risk areas

Following a recent survey, Scotland, East Anglia and the South West are reported to be the areas of highest risk, but there is the possibility of your dog picking up one of these tiny ticks in both urban and rural areas.  It’s understood that as a result of our warmer, damper winters in the UK, the ticks have a better survival rate as they can begin feeding earlier, and for longer.

If you find a tick on your dog

It’s the best advice to frequently check your dog for ticks; begin at the ears and head, search his skin for any lumps. If you feel a small lump, which may be swollen or painful for your pet, part the hair at this location and check for signs of a tick.  If you do discover a tick, it’s best not to pull at it to remove it as this could result in leaving behind the mouth parts which will cause an infection.

Ensure that you have a plastic tick hook, available from pet stores and the Vet, to remove the tick. This tool will take away the tick quickly, safely and painlessly without squeezing the tick. If you are unsure, ask your Vet for advice.

How NOT to remove a dog tick

Obviously if you do find a tick on your dog’s skins, you want it removed as quickly as possible to reduce the risk of infection. Never attempt to burn off the tick, or you may cause more pain for your pet, and the possibility that the tick could regurgitate its infectious fluids back into the dog’s skin. Likewise, don’t apply any chemicals, nail polish or Vaseline to the tick. Only after the tick has been safely removed can you apply general antiseptic or surgical spirit to the wound.

Prevention

If you often walk your dog in an area where there are high grasses, or in a woodland area, use anti-tick medication for dogs. Check your dog frequently for ticks, paying particular attention to the belly area, legs, between the toes, eyes and face. Some flea products may provide a bit of extra protection, other products may also kill the ticks. Your Vet will advise on the best treatment for your pet.