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Ticks are a common parasite that dogs pick up. We do also see them in cats, and in different parts of the country, it is more prevalent. Ticks can carry nasty diseases on them, and that is why we do not like them to be attached to an animal for too long. So the one that you can pick up in the UK is Lyme Disease, and that can affect people and also dogs. This is a disease that is not very common, we do not see it a lot, but when it does happen you do need to get it treated. And if you are getting any of the symptoms, which can be muscular, neurological, it can also affect the kidney of an animal. So if you are getting any symptoms that may fit with the Lyme Disease and your animal has had ticks on them, then it is worth considering Lyme Disease as a potential cause of their symptoms. It is always important to tell your vet if your animal has had ticks on them. It is also really important if your animal has travelled abroad and they may have picked up ticks there because there are diseases that are coming into the UK that have been contracted while an animal has been travelling and they brought them back.

And because the incubation period of those diseases is quite long, it can be up to several months in certain diseases, the symptoms do not become apparent until they are back in the country and you have almost forgotten that you have been travelling. So it is always worth it to say, mentioning, to your vet if your animal is unwell, then just mention that they have travelled abroad because it just gives us an option on your list of differential diagnoses for that animal, you cannot rule out those diseases that can be contracted elsewhere. The ticks themselves can be caught from hedges, from grass, from bushes, wherever your animal is running. If they are in a park or a field there is a potential to get ticks on them. It can be quite seasonal as well, but we are finding that ticks are being discovered on animals all year round nowadays. The tick itself will attach with its mouthparts into your pets and transmit potentially the disease into the bloodstream of your pet whilst feeding from the blood of your pet. They attach very, very small, and initially in a lot of cases we wouldn't be able to see them because animals are very furry and they get tucked up into the coats, and so you can not see them.

As they feed, and this can take several days, four-five days, the tick grows and then becomes apparent. So often an animal will be brought into us because an owner is worried about a lump they have discovered, and it can turn out to be a tick. They normally stay on the animal for 10 or 11 days. Once they have stopped feeding after that period of time they will then drop off, and they can then jump onto another animal and have another feed when they need to. During that time that they are attached to your animal, this is the time where they could be transmitting the disease. So if you discover a tick on your pet, you need to get that tick safely removed. If you pull the tick off, the chances are that the mouthparts of that tick will stay in your pet, and this then can cause a local reaction, can get infected, the skin can grow over those mouthparts and can become a problem later on.

So if you are not sure how to remove the tick, take your pet to the vet, get your vet to show you, and the most important thing to do is get a tick remover. If you are in an area of the country where your pet is picking up ticks, invest in a tick remover. Put this in your pet first aid kits. What these kits do, the tick removers, the one that I have here is one that you slide underneath the head of the tick, and you twist to twist the mouth parts out of the skin of your pet. Whenever you have the tick out, have a look at it. What you should see are four legs on either side of the tick, and then the two little mouth parts in the middle of the head end of the tick. Make sure that all these parts are out, and if they do not out take your pet to get checked by the vet because they may be able to see those mouthparts and remove them safely for you.