Ticks are egg shaped blood-sucking parasites than can vary in size from 1 to 10mm. They are commonly found in woodland, grassland and heath areas. Your dog is most likely to come across them in areas with lots of sheep or deer. Ticks can be active all year but are most prevalent between spring and autumn. They drop onto your dog’s coat when they brush past them.
It is a good idea to check your dog’s coat after a walk, areas ticks tend to attach are around the head, neck, ears and feet. You can check your dog’s skin by running a hand over them, a tick will usually feel like a small bump. Another option is to use a lint roller which baby ticks might stick to. Brushing can also help to remove them before they are attached.
A tick will have a white or grey egg-shaped body which will increase as it fills with blood. Ticks carry disease so it’s important to remove them as soon as possible. The easiest and most effective way of removing a tick is to use a ‘tick twister.’ This is inserted under the body of the tick and twisted anti-clockwise to gently twist the whole tick (including the head) out of the skin. It is important not to simply pull the tick out with your fingers or tweezers as this may leave the head in the skin and cause and abscess.
It is important to protect your dog against ticks as they can pass on diseases such as Lyme disease and Babesiosis. Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that can cause fever, lameness, swollen and painful joints, depression and anorexia. Babesiosis is another bacterial infection which is extremely rare in the UK.
It’s recommended to implement tick prevention by using a tablet, spot-on, collar or spray. Ticks can also bite people and pass on Lyme disease, so its important to take measures if exercising in at risk areas by using an insect repellent, wearing long sleeved closed and tucking your trousers into your socks. It’s also important to check yourself when you get home.