As the weather becomes warmer ticks become more active.
Ticks do not fly or jump but crawl onto your dog as he/she passes through long grass, heathland and woodland.
Ticks are tiny (as above) but become more obvious as they feed/gorge on your dogs blood as you can see on the dog below.
Carry a tick remover and an antiseptic wipe with you during the spring and summer months to enable you to remove a tick from your dog or yourself quickly if required
A rough drawing to show you where you need to place your Twister before turning it anticlockwise to "persuade" the tick to remove its head. NEVER be tempted to just pluck the tick from your dog which may leave its head in your dog and cause infection.
April and May are months we all usually look forward to. Warmer weather, longer daylight hours and woodlands of bluebells make for very pleasurable dog walks. BUT with these pleasures also hearalds the start of the dreaded tick.
What are they?
These are blood sucking creatures that fall off of sheep, deer, hedgehogs etc.and can be found in long grass and under growth. When your dog comes along, sniffing through the grass and under growth the ticks cease their opportunity for a good feed and latch onto your dog. Once on your dog (usually on their face, legs or under belly) they burrow their heads into your dogs skin where they gorge on your dogs blood until full and fall off wherever your dog may be at that time.
Are they dangerous?
Ticks carry lyme disease and must be removed from your dog quickly. Lyme disease is a serious bacterial infection and can cause your dog sympotons such as loss of appetitie, lameness, swollen joints, depression and fever. If you believe your dog to have lyme disease you should contact your vet immediately where tests can be carried out and treatments such as a course of antibiotics can be prescribed.
What steps can I take to protect my dog?
Treatment is very easy; usually your flea product will also protect your dog against ticks but check the packaging to make sure. There are many products on the market to protect your dog against ticks from medical collars, spot-on treatments and natural remedies; I tend to find the type of product choosen is a personal preference to the dog parent but whichever you choose make sure you apply it to your dog as described on the packaging and at the intervals advised. So, for instance if you need to administer the treatment monthly make sure you have sufficient for the year and make a note in your diary, planner or calendar when it needs to be done. Keeping your pet protected is much more pleasant for you both rather than having a sick dog undergoing expensive veterinary treatment that could have been avoided. If in doubt about which treatment to use please consult your vet for advice.
Please do not think that your dogs tick protection will stop ticks from latching onto your dog; some do not and are only affective when the tick burrows its head into your dogs skin for a feed. It is then that the tick will die.
Check after every walk
Regardless of whether you use a tick protection on your dogs or not, it is good practice to check your dogs over after every walk incase a tick or three has latched onto your dog. Just gently run your hands over your dogs body to check for any "boarders".
What do I do if I find one on my dog?
My personal preference is to use what I call a Twister but its brand name is O'Tom Tick Twister (available from pet shops, vets or Amazon). Some dog parents prefer to use tweezers or other devices but I find my Twister quick and easy to use. The most important thing is that you can remove the tick with its head!! NEVER be tempted to just pluck the tick off of your dog; if you leave the ticks head in your dog it may cause infection, so be careful and take your time. I have the same Twister for years and always carry mine and an antibacterial wipe in a small pouch with me on all walks so if I spot one on my dog I can remove it immediately. It is very simple and easy to do. If you spot one restrain your dog so that you can concentrate on the job in hand; I usually attach my dog to its leash and attach the leash to a post or ask someone to hold him still for me.
Gently slip the pronged V of the Twister under the ticks body around what is its neck area (as its head which is embedded in your dogs skin). Then using your finger start to turn the Twister anticlockwise; this "persuades" the tick to withdraw its head from your dogs skin and you can then dispose of it safely. Check out the area where the tick had attached to your dog, I like to clean the area with an antibacterial wipe just to be sure that the area is clean.
Ticks like us humans too!!
Yes, your dog is not the only one at risk, ticks will feed on us too. To protect ourselves wear long sleeved tops and trousers even in hot weather. Check your clothing after your jog, cycle run or walk and brush any off immediately. A good insect repellent may help.