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Dog ticks: know your enemy

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Ticks are nasty little parasites whose bite can be much worse than your dog’s bark. Learn what they are, why they’re a problem, where your dog might pick them up and how to get rid of them if he does. Go for walkies in any grassy area – even in a city – and there’s a chance your dog could pick up a tick. Carriers of disease and notoriously difficult to remove, it’s important to make sure your dog is kept well protected.

There’s nothing nicer than a stroll through a park with your dog. Whilst we all know that usually means muddy paws and a messy coat, the one thing we don’t want to deal with afterwards is a tick.

Ticks are officially part of the spider family and have eight legs – but that’s where the similarities end. A particularly nasty parasite, they use their very strong, sharp mouths to bite into animal skin where they’ll stay latched on, drinking blood until they’re fully engorged.

Adult ticks hang on to blades of grass or other vegetation, waiting to jump onto a passing animal (or human). They are often found in areas where sheep and deer graze.

Tick bites are hard to feel once the tick has left your dog. They often don’t even itch. It means that unless you see the tick, you probably won’t know your dog has been bitten. As ticks can carry disease, if you take your dog to areas where these parasites are a threat then providing your dog with tick protection is really important.

Ticks are known to carry many diseases, including Lyme Disease and Canine Babesiosis. Lyme disease can affect both dogs and people in the UK. Babesiosis is less common in UK dogs, but cases have been reported, and dogs that are taken abroad are also at risk. Both of these diseases can cause a range of symptoms, and can lead to serious health problems if left untreated. If you suspect your dog may be unwell then always get them checked over by your vet.

Because of their strong mouthparts, ticks are very difficult to pull off without a special tool called a tick twister or tick hook. As the name suggests, a tick hook is a two-pronged hook that you slide under the tick’s head and twist gently until the whole tick pops out. Normal tweezers are not recommended, as they risk removing only the tick’s body, leaving its head and mouthparts still attached.

You can help protect your dog against the dangers of tick bites by making sure you stick to a routine parasite prevention plan. Speak to your vet about preventative products against ticks, and help keep your dog protected.

Did you know…
Ticks are actually arachnids. That means they're closely related to spiders and scorpions, just in case you wanted a reason to dislike them even more.

Find out more information about the options for tick protection here.