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 Tick Season, all you need to know

May 3, 2024

Tick Season, all you need to know

What are ticks?

Ticks are small parasites with 8 legs (closely related to spiders) that can be found on the external surfaces of hosts such as farm animals, companion animals and wildlife (and sometimes humans).

Their colour, size and shape can vary, their body is generally oval shaped, and starts out small but it will become larger when filled after they feed. Through specialized mouthparts they attach firmly onto their host and as they are parasites will feed on their hosts blood.




Where do ticks live

Across the UK they can be found in both towns and countryside areas.

Ticks tend to be more commonly found in long grasses (fields and meadows), moorlands, woodlands or places with lots of wildlife or farm animals.

Unlike some other parasites they do not jump or fly. Instead they transfer, usually crawl onto their host as the host animal brushes past where the tick sits.


When do we see them

This will depend on several factors including geography, climate and what type of habitat they are found within. Ticks can be active all year round however it is more common to see them between Spring and Autumn due to the warmer weather. They may enter a period of decreased activity or even dormancy in significantly colder or snowy months but they may still be active on milder winter days.


Why do we discuss ticks?

In some cases ticks may attach to their host without them initially being aware and may only become knowledgeable of this afterwards if they feel or see them in the skin. 

As tick bites are often painless, there may be some delay in time until they are recognized and dealt with.

Meanwhile ticks can present several serious health problems both for animals and humans. Therefore measures for tick prevention should be taken to mitigate the risk of the following:


  1. They can transmit certain diseases. This depends on the type of tick species (there are several) and other factors including geographical location. Not all ticks carry infection, the infection rate in the UK varies from zero to about 1 in 5 ticks, in Europe it is higher. (8. Hansford et al Ticks and Borrelia in urban and peri-urban green space habitats in a city in Southern England. Ticks Tick Borne Dis. 2016.)


  1. Tick bites can lead to an allergic reaction in some people and animals. Swollen, itchy, red lesions may develop at the location of the tick bite.


  1. Anemia can develop with a severe tick infestation or if the animal is particularly susceptible to the effects of tick feeding. This can occur in livestock and wildlife but also in vulnerable small, younger or older companion animals where ticks feed on enough of the host blood to cause a deficiency in the red blood cells or hemoglobin levels.


  1. Tick bites can become secondarily infected


  1. Economic considerations can apply both in production animals in agricultural settings where a loss to production of milk, meat, wool in animals can occur. However there is also cost implications in the treatment of tick borne disease companion animals.


What diseases can ticks transmit

Several diseases can be transmitted through ticks to animals and/ or humans.  The most commonly known disease known is Lyme disease (borreliosis).

However other diseases exist; Babesiosis, anaplasmosis, ehrlichiosis, tick borne encephalitis to name a few.

Some diseases were also not previously reported in the UK and have emerged because of an increase in pet travel and importation from other countries.

Would you like me to go deeper into any of these diseases, alternatively it may be worth including a link to another site that does so?

What preventative measures can be taken against ticks

  1. Raise awareness of ticks and the risk of disease.
  2. Avoid places that ticks can commonly be found. For example, in the warmer months I would advise to use a path, instead of walking your pet through long grass.
  3. Use regular tick control.
  4. Perform frequent tick checks.
  5. Undertake prompt but appropriate tick removal.


What is tick control?

If you live in a high risk area, frequently visit affected areas, or travel abroad, you will want to speak to your vet about what prevention options are best for your pet as individual considerations including age, size, health status and lifestyle will influence decision making.

This may include the use of a tick repellent, aimed at preventing and killing ticks that attach to your pet or other parasite control, that can also cover your pet against ticks, should a tick attach to your pet.

There are plenty of different options for you and your vet to choose from which can include the use of a collar, spot on or tablet and these can all have effects for different lengths of time, so it is important to choose the right one for yours and your pets needs. To ensure effectiveness and safe use of any product, minimizing any undesired effects, it is necessary to follow the manufacturer instructions. 


How do I perform frequent tick checks on my pet?

Regularly find the time to examine your pet in a quiet but well illuminated area. I would advise you to do this after their walks.

Pay particular attention to areas of the body that ticks often will present, which include the head, ears, neck, in between their toes, under their armpits, their undersides and around their tail and their genitals.

Ticks can be small so carefully check for anything that can feel like a lump or bump, part the fur and thoroughly inspect the area. Contact your veterinarian if you are unsure of any findings or want some further advice.

Remove the tick (using the method described below) then carefully place it in a sealed bag and dispose. Crushing the tick can release any pathogens and increase the risk of potential disease transmission so avoid doing so.

After examination continue to monitor your pet for any symptoms of feeling unwell, which may include a reduced appetite, a fever, feeling lethargy or lameness. Do contact your veterinarian immediately if you have health concerns.

Regularly examining your pet will also help you maintain general well being of your pet in addition to trying to reduce risks associated with tick borne disease.


What is prompt and appropriate tick removal?

Prompt tick removal is not a replacement for other tick prevention methods discussed above. 

However it can be used in combination with these to reduce the time of attachment and therefore risk of biting and disease transmission from an infected tick.

My advice is to use a tick removal tool like the following, insert picture here (O tom tick twister removal)……show motion to turn

This instrument helps to achieve the necessary twist and pull effect which is important as it is essential to remove the whole tick.

It is challenging to visualize the head and mouthparts of the tick in full so using tweezers or other means increases the risk of failure to remove these parts which can lead to localized infection. Avoid also to squeeze the body of the attached tick.

After removing the tick, it is advisable to clean the affected area on the skin using a mild antiseptic solution.

RenaSan First Aid Spray and RenaSan Antiseptic Gel are vet approved Sting-free, Non-Toxic, Alcohol-free products which can be used to clean the skin after tick removal.
They act as a powerful antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal solution that is gentle enough to use on sensitive areas, such as near the eyes and mouth.


Want to see how to safely remove a tick?

Let RenaSan's resident crazy pet lady Hayley show you how its done!

If your pet is unwell after tick exposure, ensure you do consult with your vet. Signs of illness can be varied, non specific and ultimately serious so seek veterinary advice immediately.

Similarly if you are worried about yourself and the risk of ticks for humans please do discuss this with your doctor.

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