If you walk your dog in woodland or areas with long grass then it’s likely that at some point they will pick up a tick, especially during the warmer months. Ticks are a blood-sucking parasite and a member of the spider family. They usually appear small, flat and reddish-brown in colour. As they feed on their host’s blood they swell up, becoming rounder, and their bodies turn a grey-blue colour.   

Ticks do not jump or fly but instead lie in wait on vegetation and drop on to your dog’s coat as they brush past, then crawl to the skin to attach. Warts and skin tags are often mistaken for ticks, but if you look closely you can see the eight legs close to where it attaches to your pet.  

Ticks can carry and transmit bacteria, viruses and parasites when they feed on our pet’s blood. These can cause serious conditions like Lyme disease, babesiosis and ehrlichiosis. The quicker the tick is removed, the less chance it has to transmit disease.  

Remove properly 

However, it’s important they are removed properly so none of the mouthparts of the tick are left behind. Never crush, squeeze or apply substances to try to suffocate the tick – this can increase the chance of it regurgitating its blood meal and transmitting disease. 

A tick-removing hook is the best tool. This slides under the body of the tick, close to your pet’s skin, and is then twisted in one direction to loosen the tick’s mouthparts and make it let go. Normal tweezers can also be used but take care to hold the tick as close to the skin as possible and without pulling. If you’re unsure about removing it yourself, please contact your vet or veterinary nurse for help. This is a routine task for us in the summer months!  

There are many products that are effective at killing and/or repelling ticks – collars, tablets and spot-on treatments are available. Many are useful combination products that protect against other parasites like worms and fleas too. If you are planning to travel abroad, speak with your vet before you go about the best product to use against the disease risk in your destination country.   

If you or anyone in your family may have been bitten by a tick, consult your GP for further advice. 

 

 

 

 

Matt Storey MRCVS 

Severn Edge Vets, Much Wenlock

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