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Tick prevention and removal

Tick prevention and removal
What are ticks?

Ticks are blood sucking insects. They are found in many parts of the UK but more commonly where there are a lot of sheep or deer. They are very common in the Lake District, on moorland and heathland and in woodland.

Life cycle of a tick

Ticks spend most of their life in humid vegetation (bracken and long grass) where they wait for an animal to brush past, such as a dog, cat or human. They then jump on and attach by biting through the skin and consume a blood meal over the next few days. As they feed they grow in size. They can remain attached for up to 10 days. The tick will then naturally drop off the animal and lay hundreds of eggs in the environment. Here the eggs develop and hatch into adults and so the life cycle continues.

Are ticks a problem?

YES! There are several problems ticks can cause and diseases which they can carry:

  • Local skin reactions and abscesses at the site of the bite.
  • Blood-borne diseases. When a tick bites it regurgitates some of its stomach contents into the site of the bite to aid in feeding. If the animal the tick last fed on was infected with diseases such as those below then transmission is possible:
    • Bacterial pyaemia. Bacteria from the site of the tick bite get into the animals blood.
    • Lyme disease. This is becoming more common across the country. It is caused by the parasite of Borrelia burgdorferi and transmitted by Ixodes species of ticks, the most common ticks in the UK. Lyme disease may cause fever, lethargy, arthritis and occasionally skin disease.
Vaccinating against Lyme disease

There is a vaccination available to protect against Lyme disease in dogs. We would strongly recommend preventing tick attachment and feeding in the first place but if your dog is regularly exposed to tick environments we would also advise vaccination. Please ask one of the vets at Oakhill Vet Group about this vaccination.

  • Caused by the parasite Anaplasma phogocytophila and transmitted by Ixodes ticks. Although rarely diagnosed in the UK, symptoms include depression, fever, reluctance to move and general malaise.
  • The Babesia canis parasite destroys red blood cells causing anaemia. Symptoms include lethargy, weakness, vomiting, anorexia, fever and dark discolouration of the urine. Although historically rare in the UK, outbreaks do occur and are likely to be more common as more pets travel back and forth from the continent and our climate gets warmer.
  • Other rare exotic diseases that are found across Europe.
What should I do if I find a tick on my pet?

It is important to regularly check your pet for ticks, particularly if they are travelling abroad. Pay particular attention to the ears, legs, paws and around their head. REMOVE the tick as soon as possible. CARE, it is easy to leave part of the tick behind. The mouthparts of ticks have barbs which embed into the skin to help hold it in place whilst it feeds. These do not come away easily and can get left in the skin when trying to remove the whole tick.

The best way to remove ticks is with a plastic tick hook called O’Tom. Just ask one of the Oakhill Team at Windermere or Ambleside and they will be happy to show you how to use one. If part of the tick is left behind it can be difficult to remove. Examine the site of the bite and if it looks swollen you should make an appointment to see one of the vets at Oakhilll Vet Group.

If your pet appears at all ill at the time of finding the tick or several weeks after finding and removing the tick you should make an appointment with one of the vets at Oakhill Vet Group. If you are a visitor to the area and your pet is ill on returning home make sure you inform your vet that your pet has recently visited a high risk tick area.

How do I prevent my pet from getting ticks?

Certain areas will have more ticks than others, particularly if there is a lot of bracken and deer. If you are concerned about ticks it may be best to avoid these known ‘hot spots.’

Always check your pet when returning from walking in these high risk areas. It is important to remove the ticks and or kill them within 24-48hours after attachment to minimise the risk of disease transmission. We recommend having a tick remover to hand when walking your dog in tick infested areas or if your cat frequently comes home with ticks attached.

There are multiple types of treatment available including:

  • Topical Spot-On products
  • Oral tablet medication
  • Medication collars

We would typically recommend a product with tick repellency and/or a fast kill action. Please speak to one of the Oakhill Team if you would like to discuss which products are suitable for your pet and situation.