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Why you need to protect your pet from ticks

Blog Home May 7, 2020

How big is the common tick in the UK?

Like most parasites, the tick is pretty minute. It’s also perfectly formed for its purpose; a ‘tiny but mighty’ poppy seed-sized dot on your fingernail (before it has had its feed, of course). 

Ticks are part of the spider family. When they are young, they will look like pale versions of their cousins, only distinguishable by their six legs instead of eight.

 

What do ticks actually do?

Ticks are the closest thing you’ll find to a real life vampire. Once they have hopped onto a new host, they sink their strong jaws into the skin, firmly attaching themselves. Hosts can be humans as well as animals, and ticks can drink the blood of their victims for as many as 7 days before dropping off.

 

Where am I most at risk from ticks?

Ticks love wet undergrowth, and can typically be found in leaves on a woodland floor until they are large enough to climb higher. If you like to regularly take your pet for woodland walks, you need to be extra thorough when checking their fur for ticks. 

 

What kinds of ticks do we have in the UK?

The most common Tick in the UK is the Sheep Tick. This greedy little parasite isn’t fussy; it will feed on all mammals and birds it can get close to.

Less common but still found in the UK are the Hedgehog Tick and Fox or Badger Tick.

Ticks live all around the world, so it’s no surprise that new species have been brought in to the country following the increase of pets travelling abroad. 

The Brown Dog Tick came to Britain from other parts of Europe. This is a particularly nasty little breed, as unlike ticks native to the UK it can survive in the home. 

 

Why do I need to check my pet for ticks?

The main reason that we need to check our pets for ticks is that they can carry multiple diseases. 

If a tick has fed from a mouse, for example, and then moves on to your cat, any disease the host mouse had is also passed to your pet. 

Ticks in the UK can also carry Lyme disease, which is a potentially deadly bacteria-led disease that affects nerves and muscles in animals and humans.

 

Where should I check my pet for ticks?

If you’ve recently walked your dog through the woods, or you suspect your cat has been chilling in some long grass, you need to check your pet for ticks. 

The most common places for ticks to latch can be:

  • Under your pet’s collar
  • Inside the groin area
  • Under your pet’s front legs
  • Under their tail
  • Between their toes
  • Inside their ears

You need to be especially thorough when checking your pet’s ears. You might find it helpful to shine a flashlight into the ear canal to help you get a really good view, as they can be tricky to spot in this area.

 

What do I do if I find a tick on my pet?

Tick bites are painless, and you’ll probably only notice them on you or your pet when they have grown in size. 

If you find a tick, they need removing as soon as possible.

But – it’s REALLY important to remove them properly!

This means you either need to use a proper tick remover tool, or you need to ask your vet to do it for you.

Even if you need to order a tick remover tool and wait for it to arrive, or if you have to wait a few days to see your vet, this is still better than trying to forcibly remove it.

Correct removal will ensure you get all of the tick out of your pet’s skin, including their jaws (which can be left behind if forcibly removed, and get infected).

DO NOT try to pull it off with your fingers, or burn it off.

Not only could you accidentally hurt your pet, but if you squash the tick, or don’t remove their body entirely from the skin, the risk of infection increases, and you could make your pet very poorly.

Read more about how to safely remove a tick here.

 

How can I protect my pet from ticks?

To ensure your dog or cat is safe all year round, regular, monthly treatment for flea and ticks is essential.

ITCH Flea kills ticks within 48 hours of them coming into contact with your pet’s skin and blood.

If a tick hops on to a pet that has been treated with ITCH Flea, the treatment will be absorbed by the tick as they feed, killing them within 2 days.

Once dead, they will sometimes fall off by themselves, though they may also sometimes stay latched on to your pet (despite being dead). In this case, the tick will still need removing using a tick removal tool.

As ITCH Flea helps to reduce the amount of time your pet is exposed to a living, feeding tick, the chances of your pet being infected with Tick-borne diseases are greatly reduced. 

Get started with ITCH pet today to order your first month’s flea and tick treatment.

 

About ITCH

Never forget to protect your pet again with personalised, effective flea treatments delivered through your letterbox, every month.

We’ve been in the pet care industry for 10 years, and our gold-standard treatments are developed with vets and made by the best scientists and chemists. Itch Flea kills fleas, ticks and their eggs, protecting your pet and your home. Other flea treatments don’t. From only £6.50 per month and delivered free, the Itch subscription service makes preventing issues even easier.