Ticks are a type of parasitic mite. They live in grasses and foliage and are more commonly seen in warmer weather or tropical climates.
Ticks look a bit like a spider. They start life approximately the size of a poppy seed. When they feed on their host’s blood they can increase to the size of a baked bean.
Tick Borne Diseases
They can spread Lyme Disease, which can be contracted by both people and dogs. Lyme Disease affects the joints and can cause fever and lethargy. It can lead to heart problems and can also damage the kidneys and central nervous system. Only 10% of infected dogs show any symptoms. It is important to remember though that ticks must have already latched onto a host with Lyme Disease to be able to pass it onto you or your dog. However, it is important to be vigilant in spotting them or preventing them from latching on.
Another disease spread by ticks is Ehrlichiosis, which is what rescue dog Milly was found with. This can cause fever, muscle and headaches but can be treated with antibiotics.
Where Ticks Hang Out
Ticks are found in areas of long grass or woodland where they wait with their legs outstretched to latch onto a host. It is therefore important to check your dog for ticks after a walk. Common areas where they are found are around the collar, eyes, ears, paws and tail. People should also check their ankles for ticks after walking in such areas. If a tick is discovered, it should be removed from the host. The recommended way of doing this safely is to unscrew it in an anticlockwise manner, preferably with a special tick removing tool. Do not attempt to burn the tick off or simply pull at it. This can leave the head attached and lead to infection. After the tick has successfully been removed, clean the area with an antiseptic solution.
Treatment is available from your vet which can kill ticks on contact or repel them from latching onto your dog in the first place. These can be used in conjunction with your dog’s flea and worming routine. Tick repellents are also available for people.
If you or your dog are suspected to have contracted a disease from a tick bite, seek medical attention. It most likely can be treated with antibiotics.