Tick Tock, Tick Tock...

24th February 2013

Tick Bite Prevention week is soon coming up from 24-30 March. Please take a moment to read a bit more about what you can do to help your pets best deal with these nasty little blood suckers!

Whilst most dogs in central London aren't exposed to ticks, I would highly recommend that you protect your dogs against ticks - especially if you ask that I walk your dogs in Richmond Park and other large woodland parks. That said, ticks can most certainly find their way into your back garden or other green & bushy spaces around your neighbourhood.

Though protection is recommend mostly from March - November, I've found ticks on dogs during the low risk period too. And whilst many ticks do not carry disease (don't panic the minute you see a tick!), you simply cannot tell which do, so caution is better than cure.

One of the ticks that can carry disease, is Ixodes ricinus - the sheep or deer tick - and it's they who are the carriers of an agent that causes Lyme disease. Once infected, Lyme disease symptoms include lack of appetite, depression, lethargy, joint swelling / stiffness (which may appear to come and go or move between joints).
Some dogs (Labradors in particular) may also develop kidney disease (where the signs may include increased thirst & urination).

Ticks will mostly attach around the neck, ears, belly, between the toes or leg area. And whilst I generally give dogs a quick brush post walk (which should potentially remove any ticks in the fur, not yet attached) the nymphs are so small that they are hard to see until they've grown much larger. As it takes at least 12 hours - 48 hours for the tick to start transmitting the bacteria that carries the disease, it is important that you regularly groom and check your pets for ticks.

I suggest that you speak with your veterinary practice to see which products they stock & recommend, as many other products are available too. Some available are:

Advantix
Frontline
Please ensure that you read and understand all the directions with your chosen medication for tick & flea treatment.
Some medication is toxic to cats and fish.

When it comes to the removal of ticks once they've attached to the skin, take great care to do so correctly. You can get a tick remover tool from your local vet practice or through an online retailer.
For further information on Lyme disease & awareness, have a look at the website for Lyme Disease Action.

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