Man's best friend deserves the very best care that their owners can provide, and that includes outside the home too. This September, Frontline Spot On has launched a campaign to help keep dogs protected from ticks.
There are 20 species of these nasty little parasites found throughout the UK, which latch onto and feed off dogs, as well as cats. They can't fly or jump, instead they travel by walking on the ground or are transported by birds or animals, such as deer. When an animal or person walks by, the tick will drop or hook onto their new host with special hooks on their legs.
Most people have only seen a tick when it has ballooned on a cat or dog after feeding for a few days and full of blood. However, they are actually very small and the females are only the size of a sesame seed (about 3mm). Once a female tick has had its fill, it will swell from its original size up to 11mm - a huge difference! The males are a tiny bit smaller than the females.
Ticks can be found in woodland, moorland, heathland and grassland. As well as being found in the countryside, they are also prominent in urban parks and gardens. Some areas of the UK known to have high tick populations include: Exmoor, the New Forest, South Downs, Lake District, Yorkshire Moors, Scottish Highlands, Thetford Forest and parts of Wiltshire and Berkshire.
While ticks are present all year round, they are most likely to bite your pet from February to September. Therefore, dog owners should still remain vigilant,even when the weather gets cooler, in order to protect their pets from the dangers of this pesky parasite.
Although all breeds of dogs can attract ticks, long-haired breeds are more at risk. This is because the ticks can latch onto their long fur from the ground and crawl onto the skin to feed. They are also able to hide in their fur, making it difficult for the dog's owner to spot them. They are also mistaken for growths/warts due to the shape and size when fed.
When it comes to carrying infectious diseases, which affect both people and animals, ticks are only second to mosquitoes. To pass on disease, ticks must first feed from the infected host. After this, they will then fall to the ground and develop into the next stage of their life cycle, before finding another animal to feed off of.
One of the diseases they can carry is Lyme disease. This is an inflammatory problem caused by infection. Cases of this in dogs are difficult to diagnose, but the symptoms include loss of appetite, depression, arthritic pain and lameness. While this does generally respond well to antibiotics, if undiagnosed or untreated it can cause serious kidney damage.
- Find out more about why celebrity Bill Oddie is fronting this campaign, the dangers ticks can have on people, why owners should be careful when travelling abroad with their pets and read why my Grandma always uses Frontline on her Lhasa Apso, Daisy in part two of my posts about the Frontline campaign.
*Frontline Spot On are raising awareness this September to protect your dog against ticks. For more information on these parasites and how to prevent them, visit: uk.frontline.com or @BeTickAware on Twitter.