Tick Bite prevention

Davies Veterinary Specialists

Dermatology, Pet Owners

5th April 2022

Last week it was Tick Bite prevention week across the UK.

Ticks are increasingly becoming more common across a large part of England. So what exactly is a Tick and why does this matter?

Ticks are small parasites that suck blood from animals. They have been described as ‘spider-like’ due to their eight legs and egg-shape body. Their bodies grow and become darker when they are filled with blood. Ticks are most commonly found in woodland and grassland areas during autumn and spring. Dogs are more likely to get ticks than cats, but it’s not impossible for cats to get them as well. Ticks can also be found on humans.

How can tick bites affect pets?

Ticks suck blood from animals and humans. Ticks will bite and feed on your pet for up to a few days and drop off once they are finished. Tick bites can carry diseases, and therefore it’s vital to remove them straight away. Ticks can also carry a serious infection called Lyme disease.

When should I check my pet for ticks?

Always examine your dog after walks, especially if you have been walking in long grass, and remove any ticks you find.

Check all over your dog looking for any new lumps or bumps. Ticks are most often found on the head, neck, ears, armpits, groin and tummy – so pay very close attention to these areas, but they can attach anywhere on the body.

They will look round and shiny and can be grey, brown, pink or purple in colour. When they first bite they are very small – about the size of a pinhead – and may be difficult to see. As they feed they grow bigger and are easier to spot – so it’s important to keep checking your pet for changes on their skin regularly after walks.

How to remove a tick?

Ticks need to be removed carefully – when a tick bites it buries its mouthpiece in an animal’s skin and if the tick’s head or body is left behind it can lead to infection.

The recommended way to remove a tick is by using a tick removal tool. These are inexpensive and can be purchased at a pet store or your vets.

How can I prevent ticks?

There are treatments available to prevent against tick bites. These can either kill ticks or repel them. Ask your vet for advice on the best treatment for your pet.

Avoid walking your dog in long grass during the warmer months when ticks are more prevalent.

What if my dog is unwell after a tick bite?

If your dog develops any redness, swelling or signs of infection around the site of a tick bite, or seems unwell, contact your vet. It may take 7 – 21 days for signs of tickborne disease to develop, so keep an eye on your dog for changes in behaviour or appetite following a suspected tick bite.

 If you suspect your dog has any symptoms of Lyme disease after a tick bite, contact your vet immediately. If caught early, antibiotics are available to help treat Lyme disease.

 Symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs and cats include:

  • Depression
  • Loss of appetite
  • Swollen or painful joints
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Fever
  • Lameness
  • Lethargy

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