Tick – more than a nasty four letter word
Would you know what symptoms to look out for if your dog contracted Lyme Disease, or how to protect your dog against tick bites, and would you know how to safely remove a tick if you came face to face with one? Ticks are a widespread threat across the UK, these parasitic blood-suckers are growing in numbers, and are becoming more active; feeding earlier in the year and for a longer duration. They also transmit Lyme Disease, a harmful bacterial infection which could be potentially life threatening to your dog. If you answered ‘no,’ to the above questions then read on, it’s time for you to…
Get to know your Enemy- ticks vary in size from 1mm to 1cm. These nasty little creepy crawlies have an egg-shaped body with eight short stumpy legs bunched together below the head. Ticks don’t fly, jump or drop out of trees, they wait for passers-by and simply crawl onto their victims.
Tick hot spots- woodland, grassland and heath areas are their favourite places to hang out, but you may also find them in your garden, especially if you live in an area with lots of wildlife, deer or sheep. Once attached, these nasty little blighters bury their heads into the dog’s skin and gorge themselves on blood for up to 10 days. This is not only an unpleasant and sometimes itchy experience for the dog, but could also infect the dog with Lyme Disease, a nasty bacterial infection.
Lyme Disease in Dogs –each year there are between 2 – 3 thousand new cases of people being diagnosed with Lyme Disease in England and Wales, the number of dogs infected in unknown. The good news is, Lyme Disease can be effectively treated if diagnosed early on, but if it's not treated it can in some cases cause kidney problems and kidney failure.
Symptoms to look out for- Many dogs who develop Lyme disease have recurrent lameness due to inflammation of the joints. Sometimes the lameness lasts for only three to four days but recurs days or weeks later. This is known as “shifting-leg lameness.” One or more joints may be swollen, warm, and painful.
Other symptoms to look out for –
- Stiff walk with an arched back.
- Sensitivity to touch.
- Difficulty breathing.
- Fever, lack of appetite, and depression.
- Superficial lymph nodes close to the site of the infecting tick bite may be swollen.
- Heart abnormalities have been reported, but are rare.
- On rare occasions dogs have developed nervous system complications.
Prevention is better than cure - Protect your Dog from Ticks and Lyme Disease.
- Use a tick control product: spot-on treatments are an effective way protect your dog against ticks, and bathing your dog with a tick repelling shampoo will help too.
- Make your own au natural tick repellent: If you don’t like using chemicals on your pooch, you can make your own ‘Eau d’ no tick.’ You’ll need 2 oz Apple Cider Vinegar, 2 oz water, 20 – 40 drops of either Geranium Essential Oil, Citronella Essential Oil or Eucalyptus Essential Oil. Mix the ingredients together, store in a spray bottle and spritz your dog all over before going for a walk (being careful not to get the mixture in his eyes).
- Check your dog regularly: check your dog’s body over, paying attention to around the ears, between the front legs, under the collar, between the toes and around the groin area.
- Make your garden a tick free zone: use Cedar Mulch in your garden as it is a natural flea and tick replant. keep your lawn short, as ticks like to live in long grass. They also like moist, dark areas, so if you have dark, dank corners, do some pruning and let the light shine in.
Removing Ticks – here at Ruff and Tumble we use O’Tom Tick Removers (also known as Tick Twisters)
A nifty little plastic hook tool that makes tick removal simple. No more tweezers, Vaseline, cigarette lighters, and no more distressed dogs.
It’s as easy as one, two, three - clasp the tick in the hook, twist the hook and lift.
Check the Perpetrator - make sure the tick is fully intact, no broken legs or missing head. Any tick parts left inside your dog could become infected.
Clean the Affected Area - use an antiseptic spray or wipes to clean the bite site and keep an eye on out for signs of infection. If the bite site remains red or becomes inflamed, make an appointment to see your vet.
We Recommend: that you keep one O’Tom Tick remover at home and one in your car, you never know when it will come in handy.