Tick Bite Prevention Week is a national occurrence in March every year. This year, it takes place between March 22nd and 27th. It aims to raise awareness of the small blood-sucking parasites that we call ticks, and the danger they can pose to pets as well as humans.

Cats are less likely than dogs to be affected by ticks, although it is still possible. 

 

Ticks are parasites that feed on the blood of the animal they attach themselves to. At first, they are quite small in size but will swell and become engorged as they feed. They can be transmitted to both pets and humans and carry a whole host of dangerous diseases so precaution is very important. There are a range of different ticks which will spread different diseases - in the UK, the most common tick-borne disease is Lyme disease.

 

Hungry ticks will wait on grass or leaves before attaching themselves to a passing animal. They are commonly found in areas such as pasture or woodland, but can also be found in parks and urban areas. Therefore, the best way to prevent your dog being bitten by ticks is to avoid the areas where they are likely to be found. Ticks are particularly active during the Spring and Autumn, but this doesn't mean that they can't strike all year round. 

 

Preventative Techniques

If a tick is present and hungry, nothing can ultimately stop it from attaching itself to a passing animal. The best thing for you to do is to avoid the areas where they are most likely to be found (as stated above). You should check your pets for ticks every day - it is recommended that you check your dogs after every walk. Although this won't stop the ticks attaching themselves, it will reduce the chances of it passing on a disease. The quicker you are able to remove a tick, the less time it will have to become dangerous. You could also consider using a tick-control product. These can be applied in various forms so it is worth having a discussion with your vet who will be able to recommend the best product for your pet. 

 

Removing Ticks

If you regularly check your pet for ticks, you should spot them early on and be able to remove them before they have chance to become a real risk by passing on diseases. When removing a tick, it is important not to squeeze and to ensure the full body and head is removed. If you squeeze its body or leave the head in, this can push blood back into your pet, which will increase the chance of them getting a disease. Tick removal tools can be picked up at pet shops and vets. The tick will need to be twisted in order to be fully removed, and your vet can show you the best way to do this.

 

Lyme Disease

The most common type of tick in the UK is known for spreading Lyme disease - a serious bacterial infection which has the possibility to become fatal. If you notice any of the below symptoms in your dog or cat, please contact a vet immediately who will be able to offer you treatment. Doxycycline is the most common antibiotic that is prescribed for Lyme disease. 

 

Symptoms (in cats and dogs):

- appearing down and depressed

- loss of appetite

- fever

- swollen and painful joints, and lymph nodes

- lethargy

 

Ticks in Humans

Ticks can affect humans too, for all they are interested in is blood to fulfill their hunger. You should take precautions when walking your dog or otherwise out, and wear long-sleeved tops and trousers to cover as much of your skin as is comfortable. You can also use insect repellent to stop ticks or speak to your GP for further information.