Ticks - An Update
As pet owners, many of us are aware of ticks and some of the risks they carry.
Ticks are creepy crawlies that bite and bury into flesh to feed on blood. Once they have had their fill, they just drop off. In reality, unless an animal picks up a very heavy tick burden, the biggest problem is not the bite or the blood loss (a tiny amount) but the nasty diseases that ticks can pass into the blood when they feed. See our website for more information on tick-borne diseases, prevention and removal.
Traditionally, ticks were considered a seasonal and geographical risk, with the UK being host to mostly benign species of tick with low risks of tick-borne disease.
Climate change has meant that tick species that previously only survived in warmer and more tropical climes have been able to make a home for themselves in the UK.
A huge increase in pet travel with the PETs scheme means that there is more chance of exotic tick species being brought back into the country and spread ticks around the UK.
With these new tick species there is a higher incidence of the diseases that they carry.
This is an important consideration for both your dog and yourself and family as many tick-borne diseases can be transmitted to humans too. It is very important to check your pet and yourselves after going outdoors. Common places are the face, muzzle and ears, as well as tucked under armpits, in the groin area and on paws.
The biggest factor in tick prevention is an appropriate prophylactic treatment for your pet. If they are treated in this way, then any ticks that do bite will be killed when they do so and drop off within 12-24 hours and before they are able to transmit any diseases that they may be carrying (although this varies a little bit pathogen to pathogen).
Speak to your vet about tick preventative treatment. Many over-the-counter or shop-bought products are not as effective as those that are prescription only from the vets and, in some cases, can do harm to your pet or cost nearly as much for little useful effect.
The Big Tick Project
You may have seen recently that awareness of ticks in the UK is being promoted by The Big Tick Project. Through this scheme, veterinary and human doctors and scientists are working to study the spread of ticks and tick-borne diseases in order to be better able to treat and prevent the problems that they cause. If you are interested, take a look!