Tick is the common name for the small arachnids that, along with mites, constitute the order Acarina.
Ticks are ectoparasites (external parasites), living by feeding on the blood of other animals (hematophagy).
Ticks are important vectors of a number of diseases and therefore undesirable for your dog. The most common form of dog tick in the UK are sheep and hedgehog ticks. Dog ticks in the UK are much less dangerous than the ticks found in other countries.
Ticks have been frequently associated with Lyme disease which is caused by a spiral-shaped bacterium, transmitted by the bite of an infected tick, however this is more commonly seen in the United States than the UK. Lyme Disease is an infection, which can affect the skin and occasionally cause serious illness of the nervous system, joints or heart. Symptoms of Lyme Disease are fever and arthritis in several of the joints. Lyme Disease can be treated with antibiotics but all ticks should be removed as soon as possible. It must be re-iterated though that not all ticks carry Lyme Disease and not every bite will transmit the disease, even if the tick is infected and not removed.
If you have been in areas where ticks are a problem and your dog becomes ill, do not forget to mention to your vet that your pet has recently been exposed to ticks.
If your dog displays any of the following warning signs, he/she may have been bitten by a tick:-
- Loss of appetite
- Sudden onset of pain in their legs or body
- Arthritis or swelling in your pet’s joints
- Lethargy or depression
Tick Danger Areas
Ticks are commonly found in the long grass or fields where sheep have been, moorland and woodland.
* Traditionally there are two peaks to the tick season, spring and autumn. However, ticks may be remain a problem throughout the summer depending on the weather and environmental conditions, so if possible avoid tick prevalent areas during the peak seasons.
* Avoid any possible areas that ticks would frequent.
* Use a flea and tick repellent collar.
The best method of ascertaining the presence of ticks on your pet is by a thorough grooming. As you groom your pet, check for any visible small grey dots, which appear to be attached to your pets skin. As the tick feeds on the blood it gets larger; many people mistake it for a wart or lump that has suddenly appeared on their pet. When the tick has fed it can be as big as a pea or bean, making it fairly noticeable on your pet.
Ticks can be removed with the use of special inexpensive tools, such as the Mikki Tick Picker. To remove the tick using the picker, position it over the tick with the tick in the largest section nearest the handle. Lift the handle so that the narrow nose of the picker is flat on the skin. Draw the picker slowly and firmly towards the tick so that it is gripped securely and can be carefully lifted away from the skin and disposed of. Spray area where tick was attached with disinfectant. Alternatively, specially formulated drops can be used such as the Johnsons tick-off drops, which are a blend of natural oils to apply direct onto ticks, causing the ticks to release their grip to aid the easy removal. If you don’t feel confident enough to remove the ticks yourself then contact your vet immediately to arrange a consultation to remove them.