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Protecting your pet against ticks

Protecting your pet against ticks

In the UK, ticks can carry various germs including the bacteria that causes Lyme disease, an infection that affects both dogs and humans: symptoms can include a ‘bull’s-eye rash’ in people, but this doesn’t always occur. Other symptoms include lethargy and flu-like symptoms, making it difficult to diagnose.

It’s important to know how to check for ticks properly, and what precautions you should take to avoid them being carried into your home.

Wider implications

Wider implications

Ticks are parasites we associate with our pets but they can also affect us and our families as they can carry disease risks.

If you, a member of your family, or your pet has been bitten by a tick and is unwell, speak to a healthcare professional. For more information on this please refer to Public Health England.

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In 2012, the requirement to treat dogs entering the UK on the PET travel scheme for ticks was removed. Ticks in other countries can carry diseases that are not found in the UK and there’s a risk that ticks brought into the UK from abroad can expose our pets to these diseases.

In 2016 there was the first outbreak of canine babesiosis, a potentially fatal disease of dogs carried by ticks in Europe, in dogs in the UK that had not travelled abroad.

So it’s still important when at home and travelling, even though there’s no requirement on the PET travel scheme, to protect our pets from ticks.

babesiosis
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Babesiosis


• Babesia is a parasite that infects red blood cells

• Infection with Babesia is called babesiosis

• The parasitic infection is usually transmitted by a tick bite

• Tick protection can be bought from the vet practice; if you suspect your pet has babesiosis, following a tick bite, contact your vet immediately

• Using a suitable product and checking animals regularly is important to avoid bites and disease

 

Babesia can also affect humans. Common symptoms include:

• Fatigue
• Severe headache
• Muscle aches
• Joint pain
• Abdominal pain
• Nausea
• Skin bruising
• Yellowing of skin and eyes

Finding the right solution

Finding the right solution

Treatments available on prescription from your vet include spot-ons and chews that give 28 days’ protection; chews that give 35 days’ protection; and spot-ons and chews that give up to 12 weeks' protection.

If your pet has ticks they may also have another common parasite fleas. If you have a flea infestation, then to break the flea life cycle you’ll need a minimum of three doses, given on time, of the 28-day and 35-day products; or one dose of the 12-week product.1

Collars are also available that last up to 6-8 months.

How to prevent this issue

How to prevent this issue

Prevention can be an excellent way to manage the parasite risk to your pet so the best way to ensure your pet doesn't have any fleas or ticks is to speak to your vet about products to protect them.

Prevention approach

Treatments available on prescription from your vet include spot-on and chews that give 28 days’ protection; chews that give 35 days’ protection; and spot-on and chews that give up to12 weeks’ protection.

Collars are also available that last up to 6-8 months.

Speak to your vet, as they will be able to advise you on the different options available and recommend the best one for your pet based on their specific lifestyle.

Why prevention helps

Ticks and fleas can easily attach to your pet, and by the time most pet owners notice them, it’s usually when they have been active for a week or more.

These parasites can also carry diseases that can be detrimental to your pet’s health.

By using a vet recommended product, you can be assured that your pet will be protected, and that fleas and ticks will be killed before they can do any real harm.  

Other signs to look out for

The following are some signs to be on the look-out for, but keep in mind that your pet might not necessarily display these, so the best way to ensure your pet is protected from ticks is to speak to your vet about an effective treatment protocol. Some signs to look out for are:

- Small bumps on your pets skin especially around the head or neck area

- Skin irritation if your pet has had a reaction to the tick bite

Read about Parasites

If you want to find a solution to your pet's parasite issues click the Read more button.

 

Read more

Map of tick risk

Map of tick risk

 

This interactive tick map, created from The Big Tick Project results, helps to show risk in your local area.

Diseases related to ticks

Babesiosis

Read more about Babesiosis; how it's transmitted, how to treat it and how to prevent it.

Learn more
×

Babesiosis


• Babesia is a parasite that infects red blood cells

• Infection with Babesia is called babesiosis

• The parasitic infection is usually transmitted by a tick bite

• Tick protection can be bought from the vet practice; if you suspect your pet has babesiosis, following a tick bite, contact your vet immediately

• Using a suitable product and checking animals regularly is important to avoid bites and disease

 

Babesia can also affect humans. Common symptoms include:

• Fatigue
• Severe headache
• Muscle aches
• Joint pain
• Abdominal pain
• Nausea
• Skin bruising
• Yellowing of skin and eyes

Lyme disease

Read more about Lyme disease; how it's transmitted and it's common symptoms.

Learn more
×

Lyme disease


Wild animals, especially small rodents and deer are naturally carriers of Lyme bacteria. When a tick feeds on infected wildlife the tick picks up the bacteria, then Lyme disease is spread to dogs and cats through the bite of an infected tick.

Common symptoms include:

• Fever
• Loss of appetite
• Reduced energy
• Lameness (can be shifting, intermittent and recurring)
• Stiffness, discomfort, or pain
• Swelling of joints

Lyme disease can also affect humans if bitten by an infected tick. It can vary from no illness to severe disease, and signs may start 1 to 2 weeks after infection (the tick bite).

A small red lump may develop at the site of the bite – this may then slowly spread into a large circular ‘bull’s-eye’ type rash.

Other common symptoms include:

• Fever
• Body aches
• Stiff neck
• Headache

 

The effect of temperature on ticks

Ticks are temporary parasites with lengthy free-living periods.

 

They adapt their behaviour based on changes in the environment. The following are some of the ways they adapt:

• their light-sensitive cells and special organs detect light levels, temperature, carbon dioxide, humidity and vibrations indicating the best time to quest for a host
• ticks cannot jump or fly so they ‘quest’ by holding onto blades of grass or foliage with their legs and outstretching their front legs in order to grab hold of a passing host

They require humidity of 80% when off the host. This is possible by:

• litter layer and soil retain humidity for ticks to survive
• their ideal environments are woodland, heathland, moorland, pasture and urban parks

Current temperature in your region
17°

Ticks are very active

The current temperature in your region is the optimal temperature at which ticks seek a host to feed on - remember to inspect your dog and yourself for ticks after long walks near tall grass or in areas with wild deer

Why protect against fleas?

Fleas can cause severe irritation leading to infection of the skin...

Big Flea & Tick Projects

MSD Animal Health has undertaken research into the most common...

Why do we vaccinate pets?

Vaccination plays a pivotal role in keeping your pets healthy and free from infectious disease

References

1 Dryden et al. Parasites & Vectors (2015) 8:364
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