Troublesome Ticks

by Dr Madi Hewitson MRCVS
dog autumn

With the onset of cooler autumnal weather, you may be tempted to start dropping your guard against ticks, but did you know that the late summer and early autumn is THE PEAK time for pesky parasites such as ticks! 

Ticks are generally found in areas of woodland, heathland and grassland, waiting for an animal or human to brush past them so that can jump off and feed. They attach using their mouthparts and will feed on blood from their host for several days before finally dropping off.  

Unfortunately, ticks can cause problems in two ways – firstly they can sometimes cause a marked tissue reaction at the attachment site. Secondly, ticks can carry infectious diseases which, can be transmitted to pets and humans. The most common is Lyme disease, though pets travelling abroad may also come into contact with ticks carrying other diseases such as, Ehrlichiosis and Babesiosis (very serious conditions!), which due to climate change is being found ever more frequently in areas of the U.K too! 

In order to minimise the risk of tick-borne disease, regular applications of spot-on or tablet treatments will both kill and repel them. You can even buy repellent collars! Additionally, it’s a good idea to routinely check your pet’s coat for ticks. If you find a tick, removal is best attempted with a specially designed tick remover which, twists the mouthpart of the tick in a direction that releases it from the skin intact- leaving no foreign material in the skin. 

What should I do if I find a tick on my pet?

In order to minimise the disease risk, it’s a good idea to remove ticks as soon as possible without leaving the tick's mouthparts in situ. Specially designed tick removers that remove the tick by rotation are very effective.  

Never pull or squeeze the tick! Instead, using a hooked tick remover, slide the v-shape under the tick and remove it with a twisting motion.