As a pet owner, you are responsible for maintaining your pet’s health including preventing disease and keeping them parasite free. This guide focuses specific on ticks, please have a look at our previous guide on fleas for more information.
So what are ticks?
Ticks are an external parasite which will latch onto your pet and feed. They are larger parasite than most, and can be more easily spotted. When a tick attaches to your pet, initially it will appear with a small head with a shiny body. This body will increase in size when it begins to feed. Typically, they are pale in colour and will be an overall round shape – they can sometimes be easily confused as lumps or skin tags and are dismissed by owners. Ticks, just like fleas, are not only a nuisance but they can also pass on diseases such as Lyme disease as well as other conditions which can be life threatening.
There are believed to be approximately 900 species of ticks across the world. Several species of ticks are found in the UK, with the most common being Ixodes ricinus, Deracentor reticulatus, Ixodes hexagenous and Rhicephalus sanguineus.
Where can you find ticks?
Ticks have small legs and do not have any wings, so will be found commonly in grassland/woodland or areas where livestock roam. They will grasp onto the passing host and burrow into your pet’s fur and then their skin to feed from them. Ticks sense hosts by detecting body odour, breath, moisture, body temperature or vibration from movement.
Ticks are an all year-round problem but do prefer milder weather so are generally seen more commonly during the summer months. Unlike fleas, ticks will only remain on a pet for a blood meal before dropping into the environment for the next stage of their lifecycle.
The Tick Lifecycle
Ticks have four life stages – egg, larva, nymph and adult. All the life stages except the egg will be required to feed on the host.
The length of a tick life cycle can differ depending on the type of host, the duration of each development stage, time of year and the species of tick. It’s overall duration can vary from 1 to 6 years.
Do pets have clinical signs if a tick is present?
When a tick bites, your pet may experience skin irritation and may itch or bite their skin, you may see hair loss, and in severe case they may suffer from anaemia. Additionally, ticks can pass on other infectious diseases and therefore if you notice any change in your pet’s health, please do call the practice to arrange an appointment.
How can I control ticks on my pet?
Where there is an existing tick infestation, pets will need treating with a parasiticide product – this could be in the form of a collar, spot on or oral medication. These preparations will contain insecticide ingredients that will kill an adult tick when they feed. The duration of protection will vary depending on the product used. Please speak to our team regarding the products available and we will work together to find the most suitable solution for your pet.
To stop repeat infestations, you will need to break the ticks lifecycle by ensuring your pet is covered against ticks all year round.