With spring and summer slowly creeping up on us, what better way to chill out in the evening than take the dog for a walk? However, what some don't realise is there is a danger out there to our faithful friends in the form of a small parasite. Yes, I'm talking about ticks!
Ticks are actually a serious problem to our pets and can do plenty of harm if not treated properly. They lurk in grassy areas, not just in woodland but urban areas too, gardens, forests, parks and even beaches. This is where Frontline Spot On comes in! They've launched a great nationwide campaign to raise more awareness about the problem of ticks and how to protect your furry friend.
The Be Tick Aware campaign is supported by celebrity dog owner Sara Cox and Marc the Vet who has appeared on numerous TV programmes including ITV This Morning, Paul O'Grady Show, Crufts and Animal Rescue Live. Thankfully Marc hasn't had to treat any cases this year, but his team at Grove Lodge Vets based in Sussex are always on the lookout because of the beautiful countryside surrounding them.
I was lucky enough to be able to ask Marc a couple of questions about ticks and here are his answers.
If you're a first time dog owner, what should you look for to ensure your pet does not have ticks?
First, learn to identify what a tick actually looks like both before and after feeding then, then ask your vet to advise you on the best methods of tick prevention. Ticks are generally oval, flat and small, the size of a sesame seed when unfed; once completely engorged with blood they've grown to the size and shape of a coffee-bean. Always check thoroughly over your dog's body when returning home from walks - especially at the skin's surface where they attach and feed.
Are ticks more common in certain breeds of dog?
All breeds of dog can catch ticks, but I would say longer haired breeds are more at risk as ticks tend to latch onto hair then crawl down to the skin surface to feed.
Are ticks more dangerous for younger or older dogs?
Ticks are dangerous for all ages of dogs, with young dogs experimentally appearing to be more susceptible; so if you think your dog has a tick then please seek veterinary help immediately and try to resist the urge to pull it straight off without the correct tool e.g tick hook as it can cause skin problems requiring antibiotics, even surgery if the tick's mouthparts are left in.
Can this lead to permanent disability in dogs?
Cases of Lyme disease in dogs can be tricky to diagnose in dogs with symptoms include lameness, arthritic pain, loss of appetite and depression. It usually responds well to antibiotics, but can cause serious kidney damage if undiagnosed or left untreated.
Lyme Disease can also affect people too which is why this campaign is so important. Cases in the UK have increased by 300 per cent in humans since 2000 and the flu-like symptoms can include fatigue, loss of appetite, fever and joint swellings. If left undiagnosed, it can also led to permanent disability.
The problem of ticks could also become more common due to changes in the Pet Travel Scheme. Pets will no longer be required to be treated for ticks before entering the UK, which could mean that foreign ticks spread exotic diseases which are even more serious and debilitating than Lyme Disease.
Frontline Spot On can help prevent ticks as it is a 'non-systemic' product, meaning it is able to kill ticks through contact and not through your dog's bloodstream. From where you apply this, it spreads all over your pet's body and concentrates on the sebaceous glands of the skin (microscopic glands which are attached to the hair follicles). This helps to prolong it's efficiency - even after bathing, swimming and grooming. It's best to apply Frontline Spot On every four weeks to ensure your dog is fully protected.
So don't delay! Make sure your dog is protected from these horrible parasites and prevent your pet and family from the deadly diseases ticks can carry.
For more information about ticks and how to prevent them, visit http://uk.frontline.com
Visit www.merial.com for a wide range of products to help enhance the health, well-being and performance in a wide range of animals.
Find out more information on Marc the Vet at www.marcthevet.com