Ticks are small blood sucking parasites. They are a few millimetres in size before they feed. They jump on to dogs and take a blood meal, they drop off engorged with blood after a few days. The tick that most commonly affects dogs in the UK is the Sheep Tick (also called Ixodes ricinus); however, the Meadow Tick (Dermacentor reticulatus) has become more common in recent years. This species is important, because they are the vector (or transmitting host) for Babesia canis, a parasite of dog red blood cells that has only recently reached the UK.
Why treat my Dog for Ticks
- When the tick is feeding it is annoying and irritating for the dog.
- Ticks can cause unpleasant skin reactions and lumps that can become infected and sore.
- Ticks can carry dangerous infectious diseases such as Lyme disease, ehrlichosis and – new to the UK in 2016 – babesiosis. Most ticks do not spread disease for the first 24-48 hours of feeding, but after that begin to “backwash” into the host’s bloodstream.
How do I tell if my Dog has a Tick
Ticks are small brown parasites with rounded bodies that become engorged and swollen after the blood meal. They are sometimes confused with warts, but on close observation, you’ll be able to see the legs.
Ticks are particularly common in spring, late summer and early autumn, during these times of the year:
- Avoid tick prone areas such as moorland or woods.
- Use an effective anti-tick treatment; either a repellant (usually either a collar or spot-on that actively deters ticks); or an acaricide - a collar, spot-on or tablet that kills ticks so quickly that they don’t have a chance to transmit Babesia, Lyme Disease, or other infections.
- Check your pet thoroughly after walks and remove any ticks.
If you find a tick on your dog and are unsure about removing it take it to your vets, they will be able to remove it for you.
Removing the tick yourself
- If you have a Tick O Tom or similar tick removal device. Slide it under the tick and turn anticlockwise. Do not pull.
- If you do not have a Tick Removal device you can buy one from your vets or pet shop.
- Be careful to remove the whole tick, leaving legs or mouth parts behind can result in skin reactions.
- Do not handle the tick unless wearing gloves (you don’t want to be bitten!).
Remember prevention is far better than the cure here so if you have found a tick on your dog make sure you get some preventative medication to stop your dog picking up any more.
When you travel abroad you are potentially exposing your pet to different types of ticks carrying diseases that are not found in the UK. Before you go abroad consult your vet to ensure you have a tick prevention program in place that will keep your pet safe.