The importance of tick control

Did you know that your pet could pick up a tick at any time of year? Ticks are found in the undergrowth all year round, presenting a risk of passing on a serious illness, such as Lyme Disease.

In some parts of the country, owners are reporting noticing LOTS of ticks on their pets and even on themselves after walks. And unfortunately, their numbers haven't been helped by an unusually mild winter.

Pets that are out in the undergrowth where there are sheep, deer or grouse – to name a few – run a real risk of picking up ticks. They bring with them the risk of diseases, so it’s extremely important to ensure that your pets are protected against them.

Our Senior Veterinary adviser, and former President of the British Veterinary Association, Robin Hargreaves, advises on flea tells us more about ticks and what to do:

Q. How do I best protect against ticks?

A. A good flea and tick treatment will knock ticks off your pet before they have had a chance to transmit disease. How effective this is depends on the quality of the product and the advice that goes with it. Speak to your vet about finding the right product for your pet – whether it’s tablets or even a flea and tick collar.

What’s crucial is getting a good product and following the instructions. You don’t want to waste money on an ineffective treatment while the problem gets worse as you try to recover a situation that shouldn’t have happened in the first place.

Q. Some ticks are really small - how can I find them?

A. While ticks in their adult life stage are often big and very prominent, the little ones can be tiny. Also, unlike fleas, they don’t move around, which makes them much harder to spot. Even if you find one, or even ten, how do you know you’ve found them all? You just don’t, and without tick protection, you’re putting your pet at a very real, yet unnecessary, risk.

Q. If I find a tick on my pet, what should I do?

A. Proper removal is vital, so use a tick remover, or, if you’re unsure, take your pet to the vet and ask them. Never pull ticks off; this can cause the mouth parts to remain in the skin and the animal to get a nasty foreign body reaction.

Q. What are the most common diseases spread from ticks, and how can you tell if an animal has been affected?

A. Principally there are three diseases; Babesiosis, Ehrlichiosis and Lyme Disease. The first two are relatively rare, while Lyme Disease is more common. The difficulty is that the symptoms are very vague, and the pet is just ‘unwell’, so it can take time before you and your vet realise the severity of what you’re dealing with. That’s why prevention is absolutely vital.

Talk to your vet about appropriate tick prevention for your pet and consult them immediately should you have any concerns.

See Robin’s video on Flea and Tick Advice for more information.