Tick bite prevention week at the end of March highlights the start of the tick season, with ticks becoming most active in spring and early summer, and then again in early autumn.
But much more than that, it’s a way to remind all pet owners about the importance of protecting their pets (and themselves) from tick bites and the potentially serious health implications that tick-borne diseases, such as Lyme disease, can have.
5 interesting facts about ticks:
- Ticks are not insects – ticks are actually arachnids, and like spiders, adult ticks have 8 legs and no antennae.
- Ticks are mini ‘vampires’ – they rely on feeding on animal blood to survive.
- Ticks can feed for days at a time – they bury their curved teeth deeply into the host’s skin and can remain securely attached for days.
- Ticks are hitchhikers – they don’t jump or fly, but crawl up long grasses or plants and then clasping on with their back legs they reach out with their front legs to grab onto a passing animal.
- Ticks are dog lovers – unfortunately, dogs make an easy target, especially when they’re out for a walk with their owners in woodlands or meadows. But cats can get tick infestations too.
Our top tips to keep pets tick free:
As with all parasites, the best way to protect pets is with a preventative treatment or product such as a tick control collar.
Avoid high-risk areas
Ticks are most commonly found in vegetation such as woodland, meadows and moors. However, their numbers are increasing and factors like changing weather patterns and the increased development of rural land, mean they’re becoming more common in urban areas and gardens too.
Check and double-check!
Dogs should be thoroughly checked after they’ve been outside, it’s especially important to check the head and ears, between the toes, underneath the tail, the groin area, eyelids, under the collar and armpits.
Remove ticks straight away
Ticks typically need to be attached to the host for 24-48 hours before they can transmit infections like Lyme disease, so it’s important to remove any ticks as soon as possible. Properly removing a tick with a special tick remover is the best way as it reduces the risk of the tick’s mouthparts being left attached.
Product suggestion – O’Tom Tick Removers are designed to grasp the tick exactly at the point where its jaws attach to the skin. The device can then easily be rotated between the finger and thumb, so gently removing the tick and all its mouthparts. Click here for more information or to order.
What diseases can be spread by ticks?
In the UK the most common disease that ticks transmit is Lyme disease, caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. However, there are three other vector-borne diseases that are transmitted to dogs in Europe – babesiosis, ehrlichiosis and hepatozoonosis.
Read More in this article by Rita Figueiredo Ornelas, Clinical Pathologist at NationWide Laboratories