Our tick friends are at their most active right now and could be lurking in your garden, local park, woodland and even urban areas. Aside from being creepy and very crawly, these blood-sucking parasites can also carry nasty tick–bornediseases, such as LymeDisease, which they can pass onto your pet (or you!) as they feed.
Lyme disease is a serious condition found in the UK and can be fatal if left untreated. It’s caused by a nasty bacterium called Borreliaburgdorferiand can affect dogs, humans and, less commonly, our feline friends too! Ticks can become carriers of this disease after feeding on the blood of infectedwildlife, which act as a reservoir for this infection.
Worryingly, the most common type of tick found on our pets, the sheep tick (Ixodes ricinus) is the main carrier of this disease! Humans should beware too, as this tick can also attach to, and infect, us – so watch out!
How can you tell if your pet has Lyme Disease?
Unlike humans, who often get a tell-tale bullseye rash as an early warning sign, our pets sadly do not. The earliest signs in pets are usually less specific and include: loss of appetite, tiredness, low energy and sometimes lameness. Lyme disease basically causes flu-like symptoms and can make your pet feel very ‘off–colour’ and they may also develop a fever.
So, if you notice that your four-legged friend suddenly seems more tiredthanusual, or if they are showing any of the other symptoms – get them checked out by your vet ASAP. Even if you haven’t noticed any ticks on your pet, it’s possible they could have already fallen off after feeding, leaving behind a nasty infection.
Prevention is key!
It’s vital that we, as pet owners, take action against ticks to protect our four-legged friends from tick-borne infections. To help you, here are our top-5 tick-busting tips:
Check your dog over from nose to tail after walks – paying extra special attention to tick hot spots, such as their head, ears, neck, feet, armpits and groin.
Vacuum your home regularly – to remove any ticks that may have fallen off your pet and be lurking in your carpets and rugs.
If you do spot a tick on your pet, remove it as quickly as possible with a tick remover – ticks are more likely to pass on an infection to your pet if they are attached for more than 24 hours.
Never squeeze, pierce or burn a tick that is attached to your pet, as this can increase the likelihood of them spreading any infection they are carrying to your pet. If you aren’t comfortable with removing a tick yourself, contact your vet.
Use year-round tick preventative treatment recommended by your vet. For more information on how to provide year-round protection and a great low cost, check out our Pet Health Club Scheme.