Ticks and their control
Although ticks are less common than fleas as a parasite, they are becoming of increasingly serious importance in these times of climate change and increased movement of pets to and from abroad. As well as causing nasty lumps or infections where they bite your pet, they transmit some very serious (and potentially fatal) diseases, some of which can be transmitted to man. For these reasons, we strongly advise that dogs that are at risk are treated with an effective product to, if possible, PREVENT tick bites, or, at least, kill the ticks effectively if they do bite.The commonest tick in the UK, Ixodes ricinus, can infest not only its normal hosts (deer, sheep) but also humans, dogs, cats and other mammals. Its life cycle is complicated and involves a number of larval and nymph stages that attach to a host, feed on blood for 3-10 days before dropping off and undergoing a moult to the next stage. Once adult (after moulting from larva to nymph to adult), the female tick attaches to it’s final host, sucks up to 5ml of blood over 10 days or so, then drops off and lays about 2000 eggs. The adult male ticks live on the host for longer in order to mate with the females and take smaller, more frequent blood meals.
Ticks traditionally were a seasonal problem with most bites occurring in the warm, humid months. However, with our winters becoming milder, they are becoming a year-round problem. Dogs are most likely to be exposed to ticks in areas of heathland, moorland and woodland, but they can be found in gardens all over the UK. Generally in the upland areas of the UK, peak numbers occur in spring and autumn, but in woodlands, high numbers of ticks are found throughout the summer.Finding a Host Ticks have a unique sensory organ on their front legs, which allows them to locate a passing host. They “hitch a ride” and crawl over the animal to find a suitable site where the hair is thin such as the face, ears or abdomen. Once there, they bite into the skin and secrete a glue to hold them in place, making them very hard to dislodge.
Problems caused by Ticks
- Infection at the site of attachment
- Transmission of serious disease
Control of Ticks
- Regular (daily if possible) physical tick inspections are vital for the early location and removal of ticks that have attached. Do NOT pull the tick with your finger and thumb…. it is vital to use a proper tick remover that removes the mouthparts without squeezing the tick. This prevents squeezing potentially infected blood into the host (ie. you or your pet!). Tick removers are available from our practice.
- Use of a suitable oral insecticide (such as Bravecto) or a suitable spot-on insecticide (such as Prac-tic) , when used correctly, should prevent ticks attaching to your pet, and will certainly kill them within 12-48 hours if they do attach. This prevents the transmission of infected blood from the tick to your pet. Once dead, any attached ticks can be removed with a tick remover. Bravecto confers THREE MONTHS protection and Prac-tic confers ONE MONTH'S protection. They both control fleas (but that’s another story!).
Please ask us if you have any further questions about tick or parasite control