Ticks are small parasites that can attach to your pet’s skin and suck on your pet’s blood to feed which causes them to increase in size. They can grow to a size of a pea. It is important to contact the practice before trying to remove a tick, if you are unsure how to it correctly. If the head is left, it can cause infection.
Ticks lay eggs each spring. They can lay up to 2000 eggs at a time. After laying their eggs, the female ticks shrivel and die. The eggs then hatch as six legged larvae in the summer of the same year that they laid. The larvae remain inactive until the following spring were they climb grass shoots or trees waiting for a host such as a cat, dog, rabbit, bird, deer, cow or sheep to pass, they then attach themselves to the host. They spend up to a week sucking the blood from their host, before falling to the ground.
A year later they re-emerge to search for another host to latch on to. This time they feed for up to 11 days before detaching and falling to the ground. This is when the tick is seen to mature into an adult tick. Now that the tick is an adult, it becomes inactive again until the following spring, this is when they start their search for their third and final host. Once they find their host, adult female ticks will feed for between eight and 12 days. During this feeding, their weight will increase by as much as 100 times before they lay their eggs and die off. The three-year tick cycle will then start all over again.
What diseases can my dog get from ticks?
Ticks are known as ''vectors'' for disease transmission. This means they can carry micro-organisms that can cause diseases in both animals and humans, from one animal to another. Siseases are passed when the ticks feed. For ticks to transmit disease, they must first feed on an infected animal.
This is an inflammatory disorder, which can become chronic if left untreated. Lyme disease is caused by a bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi which the tick carries. In dogs, the most obvious signs of lyme disease include a distinctive ''bull's eye'' lesion around the site of the bite, lameness, inflamed lymph nodes and fever. If you notice any of these symptoms in your pet, you should contact your vet immediately for advice.
Can humans get lyme disease from ticks?
Yes. While there is no evidence of dogs spreading the disease to their owners directly, they can bring in disease carrying ticks into people’s homes. If you're bitten by a tick the advice is to use a purpose-built tick remover hook to remove it. You should contact your doctor if your experience flu-like symptoms or if a rash appears after being bitten by a tick, or if the bite becomes infected.
Human symptoms of lyme disease include:
- Flu like symptoms
- Muscle pains
- Muscle weakness
- Joint pain
- Stomach aches
- Poor sleep
- Rash normal around where the tick was attached
If you suffer any of these symptoms post tick bite, you should contact your doctor immediately. The best way to prevent lymes disease is to provide your pet monthly with tick preventative treatment.
Ehrlichiosis is a tick borne disease of the white blood cells, caused by infection with a type of bacterium called Rickettsia. People can catch Ehrlichiosis as a result of being bitten by an infected tick, but this is rare with only around 20-30 cases per year in the UK. It is common in Europe, the USA and Africa, and there are higher risks to pets that travel to these areas.
Symptoms in dogs include:
- Weight loss
- Prolonged Bleeding
Babesiosis is a disease of the red blood cells caused by infection with the tick-borne parasite, babesia. Human cases are rare with only 10-20 cases reported per year in the UK. It is common in Europe, the USA and Africa, and there are higher risks to pets that travel to these areas.
Symptoms in dogs include:
- Coffee coloured urine