Ticks are on the rise – what dog owners need to know

Posted by Dr Dog. September 12th 2018.

Ticks are on the rise, with more than a third of pooches carrying the parasite. Dog owners need to be aware of what ticks are and why their pets need to be regularly checked for them.

What are ticks?

A tick is a small, blood-sucking creature in the same insect family of spiders, mites and scorpions – yes, we said scorpions! In all seriousness though, these little creatures can latch themselves onto a host’s skin and stay there, sucking on the host’s blood.

There are many different species of tick in the UK, but the most common is Ixodes Ricinus, more commonly known as the sheep tick.

They are often responsible for the spread of diseases, such as Lyme Disease. This occurs when ticks move from animal to animal and pick up infections as they go. When they then bite into your pets they can pass on these infections.

Dog in field

What are the symptoms of Lyme Disease?

The most common and visible symptoms of Lyme Disease you need to look out for are:

  • Lethargy
  • High fever (between 103 and 105°F)
  • Swollen joints
  • Lameness
  • Loss of appetite

Symptoms can sometimes take 2-5 months to make themselves apparent, and the disease can lead to kidney failure if left untreated. If your pooch displays any of these symptoms, please pay a visit to your vet.

How to check your dog for ticks

Ticks are big enough to easily spot. They look like spiders with a whitish, egg-shaped body. Their body gets larger and darker as they fill with blood.  

After a walk, run your hands over your dog’s body to check for lumps or bumps. A tick will feel like a small bump on your pet’s skin. They are most commonly found in the areas around a dog’s head, neck, ears and feet.

You should groom your dog regularly to help spot the tell-tale signs of ticks early on.

How to safely remove a tick from your dog

As ticks carry diseases, it’s important to remove them from your pet as soon as possible. This lessens the chance of disease.

Make sure you don’t squeeze a tick during removal as this could cause the head to come off and stay inside your pet. It also could cause diseased blood to be pushed back into your pet.

Twisting them off your pet is the best method. Many pet shops sell as handy removal devices.

How can ticks be avoided?

The number of ticks has expanded by 17 per cent over the last decade, according to The Big Tick Project research, so they’re very hard to avoid. A common misconception is that ticks are only a problem in rural areas, however Professor Richard Wall from the University of Bristol has warned dog owners in urban areas that they need to be just as concerned about ticks. Also, 30 percent of urban parks have been found to have ticks.

With this in mind, you need to take steps to prevent these creatures from making themselves at home on your dogs (and yourself!)

Our top tick tips:

  • Avoid humid woodland areas and long grass where possible
  • Brush off your dog and your clothing before going back into the house after a walk
  • Ask your vet about tick collars, dips, shampoos and spot-on treatments which can repel ticks

 

If your dog has any mishaps, make sure they’re covered by pet insurance. Visit www.argospetinsurance.co.uk to find out more information about our policies.

Argos Limited is an Appointed Representative of Home Retail Group Insurance Services Limited which is authorised and regulated as an insurance intermediary by the Financial Conduct Authority.

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