Sunday 3rd April 2016
Although ticks can be a year round problem, in the Limavady area they tend to be most problematic in the spring and the autumn and with spring around the corner we want to provide local petowners with a timely update on ticks.
Ticks are all the rage in veterinary media at present, especially now that a new disease carried by ticks, Canine Babesiosis, has been identified in dogs in the UK. These dogs had not travelled abroad. This disease seems to be carried by a new type of tick called Dermacentor reticulatus. Most ticks we find here are uniform in colour, plain grey or brown so we would ask pet owners to be particularly vigilant for any ticks with banded / striped patterns on them - the new Dermacentor tick. Although so far only identified in the south of England and believed to have been introduced from mainland Europe by movement of people and pets, vets are very concerned that this tick will spread to other areas.
Ticks also carry other diseases such as Lyme Disease which affects as many as 15000 people in the UK each year. Ticks are parasites that attach onto passing animals such as deer, hedgehogs, dogs and cats, and feeding on their blood. They gorge themselves on the blood of their host and then fall off to the ground to lay eggs, a single female tick laying as many as several thousand eggs. If the tick that attaches to you or your pet is carrying disease, it may pass on that disease. Diseases are passed on usually within 24–48 hours of attachment which is why early removal or better still, effective veterinary-recommended tick control measures, are vital.
First of all check your pet regularly, especially after a walk in long grass, bushes, undergrowth, forests, heathered areas or in the country parks. Areas where ticks can hide include around the ears, on the muzzle, between the pads and toes, around the shoulders and under the chest or abdomen.
If your find a tick it should be removed as soon as possible to prevent disease spreading to your pet. Ask your vet for help if you are not familiar with tick removal.
If you find a tick, part the hair and look at it more closely using a magnifying glass, if necessary. The place where the tick attaches may or may not be painful and there may be skin swelling. The presence of the tick's legs will let you know it is not another skin swelling or growth. The tick needs to be removed properly to ensure that the mouth parts embedded in your pet's skin are not left behind.
It is important to dispose of any ticks you find hygienically and be careful not to release the live tick back into the environment as it could re-attach itself to your pet or lay eggs! The ideal device for tick removal is a specially designed hook with a narrow slot which needs to be slid with care under the tick at skin level so as to grip the tick. Secure the hook in place around the mouthparts of the tick, ensuring that it is not entangled in hair. The hook is then rotated around its axis several times until the attachment is freed. The loose tick will then be easily detached and removed without putting either the tick or skin under tension. Bearing in mind that ticks carry unpleasant infections, you should ideally wear gloves when doing this.
DO NOT attempt to burn, cut or pull the tick directly off - If you do so it is likely that the mouthparts of the tick will be left behind.
We stock a range of effective tick prevention treatments including
Ask us for help in deciding what is best type of treatment to suit your pet and their lifestyle.
For more information on ticks, we recommend the website of The Big Tick Project http://www.mypetonline.co.uk/big-tick-project
Pictures courtesy of MSD, manufacturers of Bravecto.