Ticks are an increasing problem in the UK1. Their bites can:
New research1 has demonstrated that the number of ticks carrying Lyme disease in the UK is much higher than previously thought. Dogs and horses in particular can suffer debilitating symptoms if Lyme disease is not diagnosed and treated promptly.
Research suggests that 15% of dogs have ticks and often without the owner's knowledge. This means that the potential for undiagnosed tick-borne disease may be much higher than previously thought2.
Your pet having ticks is not something to do with how clean they are. Ticks don't care if their host (an animal or person) is clean, dirty, wet or dry - as long as it has a pulse!
Ticks are part of the natural world. They inhabit many areas of countryside and even town parks and gardens where wildlife visits (such as birds, badgers, foxes, deer, squirrels and hedgehogs).
Ticks are more abundant in late spring to early summer, and again during autumn. However, they can be active all year round, even on mild winter days.
Not every tick is infected and not every bite will transmit disease. However, the longer the tick is allowed to feed, the more likely it is that an infection will result.
Understanding how tick control products work will also help you to keep your pets protected against tick bites, and the complications that can result from them.
A tick control product can work in a number of ways:
Tick control products often work in two of these ways. One newly-developed tick- product (for the treatment of dogs only) causes the tick to quickly detach from your dog before it then dies, helping to reduce the risk of disease transmission. Most tick products act for about one month against ticks.
It is still advisable to check for ticks and to remove them even if they are dead. Make sure you visit our page on safe tick removal to get up-to-date, official advice as incorrect tick-removal methods can increase the likelihood of infection.
Tick treatments come in various forms (e.g. spot-on, spray-on or chemically-treated collars). These may be unsuitable for pregnant or nursing animals and should only be used on healthy animals and under veterinary guidance. Not all products are safe for every type of animal and some may have side- effects.. Cases of poisoning may occur when people mistakenly use a product on their pet which is intended for another type of animal. That's why it is always advisable to talk to your vet so that they can advise you what the best product for your animal is, taking into account what other pets you may have at home.
It is also important to note that there are combination products available which treat various parasites (such as worms and fleas) but some may not be suitable for the control of ticks.
Training your pet from an early age to let you examine it will help in many areas of its health, such as checking for injuries as well as looking for fleas and ticks.
1. Estimating Lyme disease risk using pet dogs as sentinels. Comp Immunol Microbiol Infect Dis. 2012 Jan 16.
2. Prevalence, distribution and risks associated with ticks infesting dogs. Veterinary Entomology (Mar 2011) 25, 377–384