What are ticks?
Ticks look similar to spiders, but they feed on blood. To feed, they bite onto an animal or human and hang on with their mouth, they will usually feed for a few days and drop off by themselves when they are full. Ticks can carry and transfer diseases when they bite so it is best they are removed as soon as you notice them on either yourself or your pet.
Once a tick is attached to the skin and feeding, it will look like an odd bump on the skin, it is sometimes easier to notice them by feel, as they can be quite small.
Where do ticks live?
Ticks are most often found in long grassland, marshy areas and woodland, often where there are lots of wildlife or farm animals.
If you pull a tick straight out, you may risk the tick’s head staying attached to your pet’s skin and this can cause infection. It is best to pull a tick out with a twist action or you can purchase a tick removal device which is also effective. Try not to damage the tick in any way as this will increase the risk of infection. Once the tick has been removed, give the bite area a good wash. To kill the tick, put it in rubbing alcohol or wrap it in sticky tape to smother it. When handling a tick it is best to use gloves and never squash them as this increases the chance of spreading harmful illnesses.
How to avoid getting ticks
If you are taking your dog for a walk in long grassy or wooded areas, it is best you keep your skin well covered and check your dog for ticks afterwards and give them a good brush too to remove any loose ticks which may have clung onto their fur. You can also use spot on tick treatment, tablets and collars which will repel ticks.
We stock Advantix which is monthly treatment for the prevention and treatment of flea, tick, sand flies, stable flies and mosquitoes infestations. We also sell Seresto which is an innovative flea and tick collar which protects pets from fleas and ticks for up to 8 months – without the need to remember monthly applications. Ask our reception or clinical team for more information on these treatments.
The danger of ticks
Ticks in this country most commonly transport Lyme disease from host to host. The symptoms of Lyme disease are a circular rash, lameness, joint and muscle pain and tiredness, if left untreated it can progress to more serious conditions. Lyme disease, if caught in its early stages can be treated with antibiotics.
Babesiosis is another disease which can be spread by tick bites. It affects dogs and although quite rare in the UK, can cause death in dogs. The symptoms are depression, a loss of appetite, pale gums, a fever and a swollen abdomen.
For more advice on ticks, pop into The Vet at any time during our opening hours and ask the team!