If you’re out and about with your dog in countryside this summer, it’s important to make sure you don’t come home with anything more than just happy memories. A range of pesky parasites are just waiting to hitch a ride on your four-legged friend, with ticks in particular being more prevalent in the warmer summer months.
Ticks are common in woodland and grassland and, although active throughout the year, you’ll most likely see them between spring and autumn. Fortunately, pet healthcare specialists Bob Martin are here with some handy hints and tips to help you keep your dog feeling ‘tick-ety boo’ this summer.
What actually are ticks?
Ticks are small, spider-like creatures that (just like fleas) feed on the blood of animals. They have an egg-shaped body that will become larger and darker when filled with blood. Unlike fleas however, Ticks don’t fly or jump. Instead they lurk patiently, ready to attach to your pet’s coat as they brush past.
Ticks can be difficult to get rid of and can transmit a range of harmful diseases including Babesiosis and Lyme disease. Tick numbers are actually on the rise across the UK, with 76% of dogs travelling outside the UK returning with ticks, which is only making the problem worse.*
How can I tell if my pet has a tick?
Ticks can be tricky to spot, however should be visible when you part your dog’s hair. These little blood-suckers attach to your pet using barbed mouthparts, so will not simply drop off when disturbed and must be removed carefully. Tick saliva contains an anaesthetic, so your pet will not necessarily feel them biting and they could be feeding on your pet for up to 10 days before you notice them. It’s important to check your pet regularly as you don’t want these little blighters to go unnoticed, ideally, you should give them a once over after each outdoor adventure.
Top Tip: The best way to check your pet is by thoroughly combing through their fur in both directions. Pay particular attention to their armpits, groin, ears and neck areas. Don’t forget to check between their toes and other tricky to reach spots.
What do I do if I discover a tick on my pet?
The sooner a tick can be removed, the less risk that your pet will get infected. We recommended you buy a tick removal tool, allowing you to twist and lift the tick off entirely, including the head.
Never attempt to burn, cut or pull off a tick with your fingers. Once removed, do not release the live tick into the environment as it will likely reattach to your pet.
Top Tip: Just like fleas, ticks also lay eggs that can make their way into your pet’s bedding and surrounding environment. Once you have safely removed the tick from your pet, hoover the entire house and discard the contents of the vacuum cleaner immediately in a sealed bag. You should also wash your pet’s bedding over 40°C to make sure you haven’t missed any of those nasty little suckers.
How do I prevent my pet from getting ticks in the first place?
There are precautions you can take, however unfortunately it’s all too easy for ticks to hitch a ride on your four-legged friend. This is especially true in the warmer months when your dog may be spending more time outdoors.
To help keep your dog tick free, we recommend using an easy to apply spot-on treatment as part of their regular healthcare routine. A spot-on is a topical treatment which is applied to your pet and transfers over their skin and coat, killing ticks on contact. Unlike a flea tablet which works by getting into your dog’s bloodstream, fleas and ticks don’t have to bite your dog to be killed when you use a spot-on. These spot-ons can be found in all major supermarkets and pet specialists, meaning that it couldn’t be easier to pick one up next time you’re doing the weekly shop.
Top Tip: As with any human treatment, make sure you carefully read the instructions and administer any flea, tick or worming products correctly. One common mistake is applying the spot-on to your pet’s coat, rather than parting their fur and applying it directly to their skin.
How often do I need to treat my pet for ticks?
We recommend treating your pet monthly as part of a regular healthcare routine. Regular treatments will not only keep your pet safe, but will also help keep you and your family safe from any harmful diseases that the tick may be carrying. One single tick bite has the potential to transmit a range of diseases that can be extremely serious or even in some cases fatal.
When selecting a tick treatment product it’s important that you carefully read the packaging as not all tick treatments are the same. Just like with your flea and worming treatments, we suggest making a note on your calendar of when treatments are due so that you don’t forget.
Fleas thrive in warm temperatures and high humidity, as these are optimal conditions for reproduction. In fact, adult fleas are able to lay up to 60 eggs a day, and so the potential for infestations to take hold increases rapidly. For more information on how to avoid fleas this Summer click here.
Share Your Tips and Ticks!
Do you have any tips for ticks that you’ve found useful? Share them in the comments below.
For more helpful advice on caring for your pet’s healthcare needs, and tips to avoid fleas on dogs head over to bobmartin.co.uk.