Ticks and Lyme Disease in Pets

Ticks are a widespread and expanding threat across the UK. In recent years, they have begun to start feeding earlier in the year and for a longer duration of time. And ticks are not only active earlier than ever, they are also carrying potentially new and harmful diseases. All this puts your pets at a greater risk.


What are ticks?

Ticks have eight legs (apart from the larvae, which have six), so they are not insects, but are ARACHNIDS, and are related to spiders, mites and scorpions. They go through four stages in their life cycle – egg, larva, nymph, then adult.

Ticks 2017.4Where are ticks found?

The native UK ticks tend to live in places with damp vegetation and lots of small animals and birds they can feed on.

Ticks can be found in woodland, moors, and even parks and gardens all over the UK. Some imported ticks from Europe can survive in houses.

I heard your can give your pets tick and flea treatments, is this true?

Yes, however speak to your vet, who will advise the best prevention for your pet.

Your vet may advise

  • Topicals (typically applied every 4 weeks)
  • Sprays
  • Collars
  • Chewable formulations, some of which can give up to 12 weeks protection.
  • Grooming your pet regularly.

Ticks 2017.1

So how does a tick feed?

To grow from one stage to the next, the tick has to food. It climbs a leaf or stalk, then waits for an animal or person to brush past. The tick has hooks on its front legs so that it can hang on to fur, clothing or skin. It then searches on the host for a suitable place to feed. The tick’s mouth is like a hollow needle. This enables the tick to stab through the skin and slowly feed on the blood.

The tick might stay attached for several days. Infections can be passed to your pet during this time. When it has finished feeding the tick drops off.

Ticks 2017.5How do I remove the tick?

Part the hair and look at the tick more closely or with the help of a magnifying glass if necessary.

The place where the tick attaches may or may not be painful and there may be skin swelling.

The best way to remove a tick is to use a simple tick remover which hooks underneath the tick. Some tools you can twist and pull, which allows the tick to break its grip.

Tick removers can be bought online, pet stores or ask your vet.

I don’t have a tick removing tool?

If you don’t have a tick remover, tie a loop of thread around the tick as close to the skin as possible and pull firmly upwards without twisting. Try not to damage the tick.

  • DO NOT try to pull a tick out with your fingers!
  • DO NOT Try to burn the tick or cover it with Vaseline or any other creams or chemicals.
  • DO NOT scrape or cut the tick
  • DO disinfect the area around the bite using antiseptic cram, after you remove the tick.

Will my pet get Lyme Disease now?

Don’t panic! Not all ticks carry diseases, just remove the tick as soon as possible and in the right way.

Lyme disease can be serious, so your pet gets a rash or they become ill in the first six weeks or so after a tick bite, take your pet to the vet.

What is Lyme disease?

Lyme disease is an infection caused by bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi. They belong to a family of bacteria called Spirochaetes.

Some pets and people may get a circular red rash that spreads out, usually from the site of the bite. Later,  Your pet may not experience any systems, other pets may become quiet, lack of energy, lameness, walk with a stiff walk with an arched back, sensitivity to touch, difficult breathing, fever, etc. If in doubt see the vet

If possible, avoid allowing your dog to roam in tick-infected environments where Lyme disease is common. Check your dog’s coat and skin daily and remove ticks. Your Vet can also recommend a variety of sprays, collars, and spot-on products that kill and repel ticks. Such products should be used under a vet’s supervision and according to the label’s directions. Speak to your vet about prevention and control ticks.

The Big Tick Project

This May most vets in the UK will be asked to take part in this survey, monitoring, finding ticks in our pets, that visit vet practices during the month of May.

Did you know 7,102 dogs involved in this study last year, 2,191 dogs were infected with ticks. This means that around one in every three dogs was affected. This is a worrying statistic as ticks also put dogs and their owners at risk of contracting tick-borne pathogens, which can result in disease such as Lyme and Babesiosis. The study also showed that ticks are not confirmed to rural areas either, with strong tick populations present in urban areas.

There are several different species of tick found in the UK the most common found in the Big Tick Project was lxodes ricinus, present on 89% of infested dogs.

Most of Scotland is a medium to high risk of ticks. Check your dog today!!



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