How to identify a tick on a dog

Ticks might be tiny parasites, but they can cause big problems for you and your dog.

There are several types of tick that can affect dogs in the UK, including dog ticks, sheep ticks and hedgehog ticks. They can also bite humans too, and some ticks can transmit diseases.

Thankfully, there are simple ways to help prevent and treat ticks on our canine friends, and the experts at Bob Martin have put together a guide.

What are ticks?

Part of the arachnid family, ticks feast on the blood of dogs and other animals. These tiny, spider-like parasites are found across the UK, and can even be found in gardens if you live in an area with lots of wildlife.

Unlike fleas and other parasites, they don’t jump or fly. Instead, they latch onto your pet (or you!) when brushing past them while out on a walk. 

Once a tick bites into the skin to feed on its next meal, it can remain embedded for days before it drops off. 

Where are ticks found?

Ticks are found all over the UK, but areas known to have a particularly high population of ticks include parts of southern England, the Lake District and Scottish Highlands. The woodland, moorland and heath in these areas provide the ideal habitat for ticks to thrive.

They are often found in areas with high volumes of wildlife, so you should be particularly wary if you live in an area frequented by deer, foxes, rodents and squirrels.

They will cling to tall grass, usually no more than 18-24 inches off the ground, and are mostly active between spring and autumn, but like fleas, they can be found throughout the year. They tend to remain low, even on tall grass, because they avoid sunlight and prefer the moist conditions at the bottom of the grass.

How do dogs pick up ticks?

When a tick smells an animal or senses its warmth, they will immediately rush towards the host and attach themselves to you or your pet’s body. Once on the host, they’ll bite the skin before secreting a sticky glue-like substance to keep them attached. After which, they’ll start to feed. 

These parasites even have pain-killing chemicals in their saliva, which means they can feed on animals and humans for up to 10 days without there being any pain or inflammation.

Dangers of ticks

Ticks aren’t just a nuisance, they also carry some serious diseases like Lyme disease. Caused by nasty bacteria, it can seriously impact muscles and nerves in both animals and humans, and if left untreated, can also be fatal.

There is an indicator rash that appears with a tick bite infected with Lyme disease. The rash is larger than 2 inches across, and looks like a bull’s eye.

And although less prevalent in the UK than in the States, Babeiosis is a rare, serious disease carried by ticks. It has been diagnosed in South England for the first time this year, leading to the hospitalisation of two people. 

How to spot the signs of ticks on dogs

Try to groom your dog regularly immediately after your walk – this doubles up as a way for you to bond with your pet and also as a way to check for ticks. As they will displace your pet’s fur, you should quite easily feel a lump on their bodies when stroking them. Pay particular attention to their head, ears, neck and between their toes…

How to treat ticks on dogs

Regularly using a preventative tick product, such as the Bob Martin Clear Flea and Tick Repellent Collar, reduces the likelihood that you’ll see ticks on your dog in the first place; as it both treats and prevents fleas and ticks. It will prevent flea and ticks for up to 12 weeks, helping to reduce the risk of tick-borne diseases for both you and your pet.

For more info on tick and flea treatments for your dog, please visit our page on flea and tick control here.

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