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Troublesome ticks!

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With the onset of the cooler autumn weather you might be tempted to start dropping your guard against ticks; but make sure you don’t!  Did you know that the late summer and early autumn is the peak time for pesky parasites such as ticks?

Ticks are generally found in areas of woodland, heathland and grassland waiting for an animal or human to brush past them so that they can jump on and feed.  They attach using their mouth-parts and will feed on blood from their host for several days before finally dropping off.

Unfortunately, ticks can cause problems in two ways: firstly they can sometimes cause a marked tissue reaction at the attachment site.  Secondly, ticks can carry infectious diseases which can be transmitted to pets and humans.  The most common one is Lyme disease, though pets travelling abroad may also come into contact with ticks carrying other diseases such as Ehrlichiosis and Babesiosis ­ all of which are very serious infectious diseases.

In order to minimise the risk of tick borne diseases, regular applications of spot-on treatments will both kill ticks and also help repel them.  Additionally it’s a good idea to routinely check your pet’s coat over for ticks.  If you do find a tick, removal is best attempted with a specially designed hooked tick remover (you can buy these from your vet or pet shop).

It’s always a good idea to remove ticks as quickly as possible without leaving any mouthparts in situ.  Specially designed tick removers that remove the tick by rotation are very effective.  Never pull or squeeze the tick.  Instead, using a hooked tick remover, slide the v-shape under the tick and remove it with a twisting action.

For dogs (and cats) that attract more frequent ‘visitors’ your vet may suggest other solutions.  If this is the case make an appointment with your vet to discuss the best form of tick control for your pet.

Chris Devlin BVSc MRCVS is a Vet and Partner at Hillside Veterinary Centre in Corfe Mullen.  w: www.hillsidevets.co.uk.

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