Ticks are spider-like, egg-shaped, blood-sucking creepy crawlies. They have eight legs and vary in size from about 1mm to 1cm long. Adult ticks look a bit like small spiders.

Ticks are common in woodland, grassland and heath areas, but can also be found in your garden if you live in an area with lots of wildlife. You are most likely to come across them in areas with lots of deer or sheep.

You are most likely to come across ticks between spring and autumn, but they are active throughout the year.

Ticks don’t fly or jump, but climb or drop on to your dog’s coat when you brush past the area they are sitting in.

How do I know if my dog has a tick?

Ticks are big enough to spot. Run your hands over your dog’s body when you get back from a walk to check for any lumps or bumps. A tick will feel like a small bump on your pet’s skin.

They tend to attach themselves to areas around a dog’s head, neck, ear and feet. Brushing also helps to remove them.

Ticks vary in size between 1mm and 1cm long, depending on their age. They look like tiny spiders with a whiteish, egg-shaped body. This body becomes larger and darker as it fills with blood.

Ticks carry diseases, so it’s important to remove any that attach themselves to your dog as soon as possible. Rapid removal lessens the risk of disease. 

This can be tricky, as you need to be careful not to squeeze the tick’s body, or allow its head to get stuck inside your dog. Squeezing a tick’s body can cause it to expel blood back into your dog, increasing the risk of infection. 

Twisting them off your dog is the best removal method, and pet shops sell handy tick-removal devices to make this easier. Ask your vet for advice.

Ticks are very good at passing on infections from one animal to another. They feed by biting an animal and feasting on blood. This may take several days. Once they have had enough, they drop off.

Ticks transmit microbes that cause diseases, such as Lyme disease and babesiosis.

If you live in an area with ticks, it’s a good idea to use a tick treatment that will either repel ticks or kill them if they attach. Spot on treatments, tablets and collars are available and it’s best to consult your vet about which is most suitable for your pet. Read the instructions very carefully as some treatments are for dogs only and can be very dangerous to cats and can even kill them. 

What is Lyme disease?

Lyme disease is a serious bacterial infection. If your dog has Lyme disease, you may notice they become depressed and lose their appetite. Other symptoms include fever, lameness, swollen and painful joints, and swollen lymph nodes.

If you think your pet has Lyme disease, contact your vet. They can perform tests and start treatment with antibiotics.

FLEAS

Dogs and cats are often infested with fleas through contact with other animals or contact with fleas in the environment. The strong back legs of this insect enable it to jump from host to host or from the environment onto the host.

The flea’s life cycle?

It is important to kill fleas quickly before their life cycle can be completed and an infestation develops. The flea life cycle can take as little as 12 to 14 days or as long as 180 days. Under typical household conditions, a complete lifecycle usually takes 3 to 6 weeks.

An adult flea can lay hundreds of eggs in a matter of days. Flea eggs fall off pets onto the carpet, bedding into floorboards and onto the soil. After hatching, larvae eat the faeces of adult fleas and other organic debris before spinning a cocoon and pupating. The pupa can stay in the cocoon for up to a year, waiting for the right conditions to emerge.

 

Signs your dog has fleas?

The first sign of fleas for many pet owners is their dog’s repeated itching, scratching and chewing. You may see fleas or flea dirt (flea faeces) on your dog. A dog’s constant itching and scratching may lead to visible patches of hair loss and reddened, irritated skin.

 

Although many dogs are very itchy and uncomfortable, some dogs may show no signs at all and fleas can be difficult to see. In addition to making your pet uncomfortable, fleas can also transmit other parasites, such as tapeworms, to a dog.

 

What harm can fleas cause?

Fleas can cause serious diseases in cats and dogs, such as flea allergy dermatitis (FAD) and even anaemia. Fleas can also carry tapeworm larvae, which your pet can become infected through accidentally ingesting fleas while they are grooming themselves.

 

What to do if my dog has fleas?

Find a suitable flea treatment for your dog and any other pets in your house. Many products kill adult fleas on the pet as well as larvae in the home and if you have an infestation of fleas in living in your carpets, ensuring you treat the environment is also essential.

 

What flea treatments are available?

There are a number of flea treatments available and many treat a number of other parasites too. Different products also have different lengths of intervals between treatments so it is important to ensure you follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and seek guidance from your vet. 

 

How often should I treat my dog for fleas?

This will vary product to product and it is important you read the product guidelines.

 

How do I treat my home for fleas?

Fleas can survive without a host for many months; clean bedding regularly and vacuum furniture, floors and skirting boards to help destroy fleas at each stage of their lifecycle; Throw away the dust bag from your vacuum after each use. Suitable environmental measures are also recommended. Regular use of an effective ectoparasitide will prevent re-infestation

 

How can I prevent fleas?

Fleas and ticks are external parasites that can cause extreme discomfort and serious illness in pets and even people.

Fleas and ticks are easily prevented from bothering your pet with safe, easy to administer, effective products.

Parasite prevention also may require treating your home and keeping pets out of areas where fleas and/or ticks are likely to lurk. Flea or tick control products meant for dogs should never be used on cats and vice versa

What can I do when fleas keep coming back?

Due to the flea lifecycle, new fleas may continue to emerge in the home for 6 weeks or longer after initial application of an effective flea treatment to your pet, therefore more than one treatment may be required. It is also recommended that all cats, dogs and rabbits in the household be treated. Suitable environmental measures are also recommended. Regular use of an effective flea product will prevent re-infestation.  If you are still receiving problems having treated your home environment too, it maybe you need to call out a local pest controller to treat your home.

 

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