Vet Patrick von Heimendahl answers FAQs on ticks and the health threat to dogs and humans

April 21, 2024

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It’s that time of year again, when spring sunshine and warmer temperatures mean ticks become more of a problem.

Take a look at our article below in which answers some commonly asked questions about ticks and the issues they cause to dogs and humans.

Clarendon Street Veterinary Surgery’s Tick FAQs

What are ticks?

Ticks are tiny arachnids that feed on the blood of mammals, including our canine companions. While they may be small in size, ticks can pose significant health risks to dogs and their owners.

Why are ticks on dogs such a problem?

Vet, Patrick von Heimendahl, explains that ticks are more than just a nuisance – they’re vectors for a variety of diseases that can affect both dogs and humans. When a tick attaches to a dog and feeds on their blood, it can transmit pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Some of the most common tick-borne diseases in dogs include Lyme disease, babesiosis, and anaplasmosis. Dogs travelling abroad may also be at risk of contracting ehrlichiosis, a bacterial infection that affects the white blood cells. It is rare in the UK, but could be transmitted by ticks if your dog is travelling to Europe, the USA and Africa.

Ticks are also highly adaptable creatures, capable of thriving in a wide range of environments, from woodland to our local parks. This makes it challenging to avoid exposure to ticks, especially for dogs who enjoy spending time outdoors. Additionally, ticks can be difficult to detect, as they often attach themselves to areas of the dog’s body that are hard to see, such as between the toes, inside the ears, or under the tail.

What are the health implications of tick infestations?

Tick infestations can have serious health implications for dogs. In addition to transmitting diseases, ticks can cause local irritation and inflammation at the site of attachment. Some dogs may develop allergic reactions to tick saliva, leading to symptoms such as itching, redness, and swelling.

If left untreated, tick-borne diseases can cause a range of symptoms in dogs, including fever, lethargy, lameness, joint pain, and organ damage. In severe cases, untreated tick-borne diseases can be fatal. Moreover, certain tick-borne pathogens, such as those that cause Lyme disease, can also affect humans, posing a risk to pet owners and their families.

Ask our team to explain the specific symptoms of Lyme disease, babesiosis, anaplasmosis, and also ehrlichiosis if you’re taking your dog abroad.

Can you prevent dogs getting ticks?

Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to protect your dog from ticks and the diseases they carry:

  1. Use tick preventatives: Our vets can advise you about the best tick prevention products for your dog’s individual needs. There are many safe and effective options available, including topical treatments, oral medications, and tick collars.
  2. Perform regular tick checks: After spending time outdoors, it is wise to thoroughly check your dog for ticks, paying close attention to areas where ticks are likely to hide such as between the toes, inside the ears, or under the tail. If you find a tick, it’s essential to remove it promptly and safely to reduce the risk of disease transmission. See our advice on typical removal below.
  3. Avoid tick-infested areas: When possible, avoid areas where ticks are typically prevalent, such as tall grass, wooded areas, and bushy vegetation. Stick to well-maintained trails and keep your dog on a lead to minimise exposure to ticks.
  4. Maintain a clean environment: Keep your garden free from tall grass, leaf litter, and other debris where ticks may thrive. Regularly mow the lawn, trim vegetation, and remove potential tick habitats to reduce the risk of infestation.

Download our guide on removing a tick safely

If you find a tick on your dog, it’s crucial to remove it properly to minimise the risk of infection. Download our guide on removing a tick safely for step-by-step instructions and helpful tips. With our guide, you’ll have the knowledge and confidence to handle tick removal quickly and effectively, helping to protect your dog’s health and wellbeing. We’re here to help if you have any difficulties with this – call us on 01223 359021.

By taking proactive measures to prevent tick infestations and promptly remove any ticks that may attach to your dog, you can help keep your furry friend safe from the dangers of tick-borne diseases. If you have any concerns about ticks or tick prevention, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our helpful team at Clarendon Street Vets.

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