Ticks and How to Remove them

by Nancy Boland

Ticks are incredibly unpleasant parasites which can transmit a range of diseases. Traditionally more common in spring and autumn, they are becoming active at other times of year due to changeable weather conditions in the UK and beyond, it’s important for owners to be clued up on ticks. Here, we’ll look at Ticks and How to Remove them.

What are ticks?

Ticks are blood-sucking parasites which are normally picked up by dogs in long grass or in woodland areas. The tick eggs are laid in grassland, hatch into small ticks, and then moult twice before becoming adults. At each stage of the life cycle a blood meal is taken to allow development to continue. In order to do this, ticks crawl up grass stems and attach to the next passing mammal. A tick will attach itself to a dog by burrowing its mouth into the skin; it will remain attached until it has sucked enough blood and then drop off to digest the meal. A tick’s body will swell during feeding as it fills with blood.

The main tick species in the UK most commonly affecting domestic pets are ixodes ricinus (sheep tick), ixodes hexagonus (hedgehog tick), and ixodes canisuga.

How to identify a tick

Ticks resemble small, grey lumps. Running your hands through your dog’s fur is crucial and should be done regularly, especially on armpits, head, and ears and around the bottom. Should you find any ticks, they should be removed as soon as possible

These regular checks or grooming after walks will reduce the chance of ticks attaching to your dog. It’s worth regularly checking your dog’s coat carefully even if preventative measures are used, as the occasional tick may still attach itself to the skin.

Fully fed blood-sucking tick

Tick diseases

Ticks can cause skin irritation or other skin reactions such as localised swelling. Some ticks also carry diseases in their saliva. The main disease that can be transmitted by ticks in the UK is Lyme disease — a debilitating chronic infection caused by the bacteria borrelia burgdorferi. Symptoms for this include; lethargy, fever, arthritis in the joints and lack of appetite.

Removing a tick

One

Using a tick removing tool, grip the tick without compressing its body — which could encourage it to regurgitate its infected stomach contents into the bite wound.

ticks 2

Tw0

Remove the tick by rotating the tool and using an upward motion. Always check to ensure you haven’t broken the tick and left its mouth parts embedded in your dog’s skin where it could cause an infection.

Three

If you can’t remove a tick or are worried about not being able to do it safely, always contact your vet for advice.

NEVER

Try to burn or squeeze a tick.

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