Our resident animal expert Dr Enric Pallarois, addresses some of your common concerns.
Q What should we know about ticks?
Ticks are blood-sucking parasites from the spider family, and they can be quite small. Both, cats and dogs can be affected by ticks, but these parasites are much more common in dogs. Because our feline pets are very good at grooming themselves, most of the time they will be able to remove any tick on their own. However, ticks may settle in areas difficult for the cat to reach, such as the face, neck and ears.
One problem of catching a tick is that they can cause irritation and inflammation on the site of the bite. It’s very important to remove a tick fully, extracting the head and legs completely, otherwise the site of the bite may become infected. If you’re unsure of how to properly remove the tick, or you simply don’t have the adequate tools or patience, I would recommend visiting your vet, who will be able to remove them safely. However, the best tool against ticks is prevention.
Prevention can be carried out in two simple steps:
1 Use a good antiparasitic that covers ticks regularly. Your vet should be able to make a suitable recommendation for your pet.
2 Always check your pet for ticks after a walk, especially if you have been to parks with deer and other wild animals (like our beloved Bushy and Richmond Parks) or if the dog has been running through a lot of tall grass.
The main concern about ticks are the diseases they can transmit, including: ehrlichiosis, anaplasmosis, borreliosis (Lyme disease) and babesiosis. Luckily, not all bites from a tick are infectious and not all ticks carry a disease, but if they do, the most common one in the UK is Lyme disease (the others are rare in the UK). Although the ticks that cause Lyme disease are found all over the UK, the high-risk places include grassy and wooded areas in southern and northern England and the Scottish Highlands.
The symptoms your dog may experience if they have caught Lyme disease are fever, lameness and inflamed lymph nodes; however, cats won’t show symptoms most of the time although they can still act as carriers. Be aware that ticks can also bite humans and we can catch this disease too.
Fun fact: Some species of ticks have a lifecycle that last three years, during that time they go to different stages: egg, larva, nymph and adult, feeding several times and having different hosts.
Dr Enric Pallarols
is Branch Partner at Medivet in Twickenham