The Vet Says

CONTINUING our series of articles contributed by the vets and nurses at the Thrums Veterinary Practice.

Although it is hard to believe it, our very belated Spring is almost upon us and we have already heard of several dogs infested with ticks.

These horrible parasites are a very common finding on our pets anytime from Spring to late Autumn and are a regular source of concern for our clients.

As well as looking horrible, ticks can cause significant skin reactions and in some cases be responsible for causing serious health problems such as Lyme’s Disease.

In years gone by, ticks were more of an issue in the western part of the country but perhaps as a result of our changing climate, we now see them very frequently attached to our pets throughout a significant portion of the year. They are most likely to be found in areas of woodland or moorland but can be found almost anywhere and will attach to your pet as they brush past.

Initially they will appear as very small swellings but as they suck more and more blood their bodies swell up until they can appear quite substantial before they eventually drop off.

We are frequently asked in our veterinary surgery “how do I get rid of them once they are attached?”.

Many people have their own ideas and remedies for this but, by far the easiest and most successful method is to use a “Tick Hook”.

This is a small plastic tool which can be purchased at any veterinary surgery and will rapidly take care of the problem.

Be aware that simply pulling the tick off will frequently result in its head being left behind with the potential to cause significant reaction.

Clearly, the best advice is to avoid the ticks actually becoming established on your pet and there are various products available to prevent this happening:

1) “Spot On” products - these are small vials of liquid which are applied to the back of your pets neck. Normally they will also kill fleas and most of them require to be repeated every month during the high risk periods. Please be aware that many of the “Spot Ons” that are available for fleas will not kill ticks and it is important to take advice from your veterinary practice about this. It is also important to be aware that some of these products are toxic to cats and again you must take your vet’s advice on this.

2) “Tick Collars” – a number of these have appeared on the market in the last couple of years and sales have been growing rapidly. They offer a number of benefits, most notably the following:

a) Most of them will last for between six and eight months,

b) They appear to be very effective

c) They are relatively economical to use.

In conclusion, please remember that there are already ticks out there waiting to pounce! Contact your veterinary practice today to discuss keeping them at bay.