The team at Arun Vet Group have been amazed at the number of ticks presenting on dogs and cats this year. This dramatic increase in tick numbers has been noted by practices up and down the country. It is thought that the recent population explosion is attributed to the recent mild winters.
The two common species of hard-cased tick that reside in the UK are Ixodes ricinus (the deer tick) and Ixodes hexagonus (the hedgehog tick). Once the eggs hatch, the juvenile ticks exhibit a behaviour known as questing, which involves climbing to the tips of foliage and waiting with arms outstretched in order to cling to a passing host and start taking a blood meal. They can sense the presence of a host by detecting heat, movement and even expired carbon dioxide. It is a common misconception that ticks jump onto animals.
If this isn’t unpleasant enough, ticks are vectors for a bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi, which is the causative agent of Lyme disease. With the increase in tick numbers, it follows that Lyme disease is becoming more prevalent, in dogs as well as people. The disease can cause serious and long-lasting symptoms in humans, particularly if it’s not diagnosed and treated early. The disease seems to be much less severe in dogs, often treated successfully with a course of antibiotics. Cats do not seem to develop clinical symptoms following exposure to the bacteria.
It is believed that only 2-3% of ticks carry the bacteria and that only around 4% of dogs exposed will go on to develop the disease. Therefore, the risk of your dog catching Lyme disease is actually very small. Ticks are also vectors for serious diseases such as Babesiosis and Ehrlichiosis which, although rarely seen in the UK, could become more prevalent as the rules regarding travelling with pets are relaxed.
We strongly believe the best prevention is repellency which is best controlled via a collar. Our collars provide cover for 7 months and currently have 25% off. We are always happy to book you a complimentary nurses appointment for tip removal or a discussion on the best treatment plan for your pet.