Newly released research shows that a third of dogs in the UK could be carrying a tick.
The Big Tick Project's research found that a tick was living on 31 per cent of the 15,000 dogs it examined as part of a project it conducted alongside the University of Bristol for Tick Awareness Month.
Ticks pose significant risks to our pets as they can transmit bacteria that cause serious infections, such as Lyme disease which can even lead to meningitis or heart failure if left untreated, with potentially life-changing results. These tiny creatures are becoming more of a problem in the UK thanks to our wet, warm winters, which allow the parasites to feed for longer throughout the year.
Ticks are trickier to treat than other parasites, which is why it's important for UK pet owners to take steps to prevent them and to learn how to deal with them quickly and effectively.
Here are my top tips on how to win the war against ticks:
• Ticks can be found in both rural and urban environments, so wherever you exercise your pet, it's important to keep an eye out for possible tick bites and infections
• The cleanliness of a pet has nothing to do with how likely they are to carry a tick, so it's vital to check your animal even if they're squeaky clean
• Regularly check for ticks as part of your pet's grooming routine. To check the skin, brush against the hair growth as well as with it to see if there are any ticks within the fur. You can also look out for these by feeling for them hanging from the skin with your fingertips while stroking your pet
• Don't forget to check in and around the ears, around the eyes, chin and muzzle, as well as between pads and toes
• Pets that don't live in a domestic setting are also at risk, so take time to check your pet, even if they are a horse or another animal that doesn't live in the home
• Should you find a tick, don't try to pick it off the animal with your fingers as you may increase the risk of infection by incorrectly removing it
• Instead, seek expert advice as to which of the many tick treatments are best for your pet. Sprays and spot on treatments that can be applied by the pet owner at home are among the simplest and most effective ways to tackle ticks
• When you purchase your treatment, ask for a demonstration on how to use tick tools or tweezers to effectively and safely remove the tick from your pet