Spring is in the air, and we’ve even seen the sun a few times, which is always a welcome sight after a long and grey winter. However, with spring comes insects! Fleas, ticks and mites; they’re all sharpening their fangs ready to take hold. And whilst flea bites can be a nuisance, and painful if your pet is allergic to them, they don’t pose as much risk as ticks do.
Where do ticks live?
Ticks usually live in grassy meadows, woodland dwellings or even in your own back garden. Basically all the lovely places you like to walk your dog, or that your cat likes to roam around in!
Why are ticks potentially harmful?
Ticks can carry a bacteria known as Borrelia burgdorferi, which when transmitted to a host, can cause an infection known as Lyme Disease.
Not all dogs bitten by a tick that carries the bacteria will go on to develop Lyme Disease, in fact, only 5 – 10% of dogs will go on to develop symptoms.
So what are the symptoms to look out for?
Initial symptoms present as lameness as the bacteria causes the joints to become inflamed. The lameness can be short-lived, but then present again a few days, or even weeks, later. The joints may feel warm and be sore to the touch. As the disease develops, the following symptoms may appear:
- Arched back and stiff legs
- Difficulty breathing
- Lack of appetite
If left untreated, Lyme disease can cause extensive damage to the kidneys, which can be fatal.
SO HOW CAN YOU HELP YOUR DOG OR CAT?
Always check your dog thoroughly when returning from a walk, and your cat when they come in from exploring. Ticks like to burrow in ears, between toes, in the armpit, and in the groin. However, it’s important to check them all over. Run your hands firmly over their body to feel for any unusual lumps and bumps, and make sure to spend a little extra time checking your long-haired pets as they can be harder to find.
Use an insect repellent or a product with insect-repelling properties, such as our Dog or Cat Spray. They contain 15 natural oils and extracts including eucalyptus, orange peel, peppermint, lavender and rosemary - all ingredients that ticks can't stand! Applying the Spray every time they go out will protect them from ticks, fleas and other biting insects. You can also buy herbal food supplements that make your pet less appealing to these creepy crawlies.
What to do if you find a tick?
If you find a tick, first of all, don’t panic! The important thing is to make sure you remove it as quickly as possible, and properly.
- Be careful not to squeeze the tick; this increases the risk of transmitting infection.
- Do not try to smother the tick with lotions or creams, and do not try to burn it off.
- You should twist the tick, with a gadget such as the D for Dog Tick Twister. The most important thing is to get the head out. If you are not sure whether the head has been removed completely, pop your pet down to your local vet.
- After you’ve removed the tick, give the area a wash. Try Anicura Dog shampoo or Cat shampoo, which is gentle enough for even the most sensitive skin.
- Remain mindful that your pet has had a tick bite, and if you notice any symptoms mentioned above, let your vet know. Treatment is very successful when started soon after symptoms begin
Ticks can be an annoying part of spring, but they shouldn’t stop you from getting out and walking your dog!