Tick Season in Full Swing…
Temperatures are steadily getting milder, and spring is now most definitely upon us. This is a great time of year to enjoy the weather and be more active outside with our dogs once again. However, there are some downsides that all pet owners should be aware of including the return of a few unwanted guests, mostly in the form of Ticks and Fleas.
This year, we are headed into what is expected to be an extremely heavy season and it’s important to learn about these pests so that you can protect yourself and your pets from the diseases they carry, most commonly in the form of Lymes Disease. But don’t panic! A few simple steps can reduce the risks for both you and your pets!
So, what are ticks?
Ticks are small, spider like creatures that feed on the blood of animals and people. In the UK there are currently 22 different species, and can be reddish, dark brown or black. They’re usually about the size of a sesame seed (1-3mm), but after feeding they can swell to the size of a small pea. During this feeding process, they can transmit what are known as pathogens that can result in infections, such as Lymes disease – which could be serious if not treated.
Where are ticks found?
Ticks like to live in areas of dense vegetation, most common in woodland areas and are often found clinging to tall grass and shrubs. Ticks can’t fly, so they attach themselves to animals or humans as they brush past long grass and other plants.
When are ticks active?
In England, tick activity increases during spring, peaking during April to June. During this period, the risk of getting bitten, is extremely high. The season reduces during the summer months, but can then pick up again in early autumn. A regular misconception is that ticks aren’t active in the winter, when in fact, adult ticks can be active at all times of the year!
How do I avoid ticks?
• Keep to footpaths and avoid long grass!
• Try to avoid areas local to you, where ticks have been found, we understand that you can’t keep your pet on the lead all the time!
• Wear long-sleeved tops and tuck trousers into socks, make sure you protect the back of the knees, armpits and the groin area.
• Ticks can get on your clothes so wearing light colours will make it easier to identify them.
• Use insect repellent. Check the label to make sure it’s effective against ticks, remember to ask a pharmacist for advice before using repellent on babies and small children.
•Check regularly. Outside and in the home, be vigilant.
• Get smart with technology, there are several free apps available which can help you plan a route and highlight high risk areas. Alternatively the interactive tick map, created by The Big Tick Project survey, is a great start to knowing the risks in your local area.
•Check pets too as they can carry ticks in their fur. These areas include: under the collar, under the tail, inside the groin area, between the toes, under the front legs and at the elbows.
How to remove ticks from Pets?
To begin with, when you’re getting ready to remove the tick you’ve got to keep your pet calm. Any unusual prodding tends to make pets nervous. If there is another person available, ask that person to hold your pet and keep them relaxed and happy.
When removing an embedded tick, wear gloves to avoid touching the tick and contracting any diseases.
Use a tick removal tool to avoid spreading harmful bacteria entering the bloodstream, thankfully there are effective devices on the market to help you, like the O’Tom Tick Twister, as it cradles the tick without adding pressure to its mouth. Using steady pressure, engage the hook by approaching the tick from the side until its held. Lift the hook very lightly and turn it. The tick will detach itself after 2 to 3 rotations.
Kill the tick by placing it in a container with rubbing alcohol. Once the tick is dead, most veterinarians recommend keeping it locked in a the container as a precaution in case your pet begins displaying symptoms, such as a red inflamed mark from the bite.
Use antiseptic spray or wipes to disinfect the bite site and keep an eye on the area.
Using a specialised shampoo is a great deterrent, Groomers Ridesect wash is designed to deter ticks, mites and fleas with the use of Margosa extract, a naturally derived insect-repelling substance from the Neem tree.
If you are concerned however, you should consult your vet, who can teach you how to complete the process.