Spring is definitely coming and we are so grateful! The length of our walks is going to increase as well as the opportunities for the dogs coming with us to enjoy more adventures and meet new friends. Some of these new mates may be only small, typically hiding in the humid areas near water with long grass and vegetation where other domestic and wild animals are abundant. Yes, I have already seen them. The ticks are back in numbers once again.
A recent study from Bristol University has revealed that the problem with ticks is worse than previously thought and also found that populations of exotic species originated in Continental Europe, involved in the transmission of tick borne diseases, are well established in the South of England and Wales.
Tick borne infections
Lyme’s Disease is one of these tick borne infectious conditions and it is well known by the public because it also affects humans in considerable numbers (up to 3000 people in the UK every year), but ticks can carry other diseases such as Anaplamosis, Erlichiosis and the dreaded Babesiosis that our pets seem to be free of at the moment, global warming permitting, but causes big problems close to us in the Continent (Travellers be extra careful with tick control).
There are a few hot spots for tick borne diseases coinciding with areas where species of ticks with infective ability are more common (New Forest, Exmoor, the South Downs, Thetford Forest, the Lake District, the North York Moors, and the Highlands and Islands of Scotland), but ticks are a problem nearly everywhere in the UK.
Dealing with Ticks
If you live in-or visit, or usually walk in- a high risk area for ticks (long grass, humid, deer or other animals around) you should use on your pets a licensed veterinary product that kills ticks as part of your routine parasite preventative protocol.
These products are supposed to kill the ticks before they are able to become infective (able to transmit diseases) and they are recommended because it is very likely that you will miss ticks on your dog even if you do a thorough inspection of the skin after every walk. Manual removal, with an appropriate device that doesn’t leave the mouth piece of the tick causing a foreign-body-like reaction usually called “tick-bite granuloma”, should be done if any ticks are seen.
I must say that I often see clients coming to the Surgery thinking that their pets have a tick and it ends up being something different. Seek your Vet’s advice if you are not familiar with the appearance of ticks. Your Vet will also be able to advise you on the best parasite preventative protocol for your pet based on location, habits, etc.
Having said this; spring is great, isn’t it?
This article was reproduced by kind permission of Andre Escudeiro-Vieites LV MRCVS
Andre is a partner at Quinton Vets4Pets in the heart of England.