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Wellbeing: Are You Tick Aware?

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Taking the dog out for his daily exercise is not always a ‘walk in the park’ what with dodging fox poo, swerving discarded takeaways or avoiding a bark off with an angry dog. But what about the dangers you can’t see such as ticks – those vicious blood-sucking parasites! Are you clued up on ticks and their risks? Would you recognise the problem if your dog caught them? Is your dog protected against them? If you answer no to one or all of the above then keep reading …

What are ticks? 
Irksome external parasites ranking second only to mosquitoes in disease transmission to both pets and humans. The troublesome ticks attach themselves to their host via their mouthparts and then commence their blood-fest until they are full, which can take several hours or even days. Their favourite feeding spots tend be in crevices where it’s nice and warm or areas with little or no hair such as where the legs meet the body, between the toes, within skin folds and ears. They can vary in shape, colour and size but generally pre-feed, they are oval, flat, small and the size of a sesame seed; post-feed they are fat with blood and become the size and shape of a coffee-bean.

What symptoms and diseases arise from ticks? 
Should a tick select your dog for their feeding ground, he’s likely to suffer from the three I’s – itching, irritation and inflammation, and are at risk of contracting Lyme Disease – a bacteria, which affects the muscle and nerve cells. Lyme Disease is characterised in dogs by intermittent lameness, fever and lethargy. Left untreated, it can result in debilitating and chronic illness, which is why it’s important to be aware and ensure you have taken out the necessary measures to protect you dog from catching them.

Where can my dog catch ticks? 
In all the places where your dog likes to enjoy his outdoor time – the garden, beach, forest and parks, however, they can also be found in urban areas. With recently relaxed Pet Travel Scheme rules, it’s no longer mandatory for pets entering the UK to be treated for ticks, so the risk of foreign tick-borne diseases is also on the rise. Attracted by your dog’s warmth and motion, ticks are at their most active in Autumn and Spring - that long forgotten time when the weather is milder, sunnier and more pleasant dog-walking (here’s hoping).

How do I stop my dog from getting ticks? 
Prevention is most definitely better than cure so it’s important that you treat your dog regularly with a tick control product such as 
FRONTLINE Spot On or similar as advised by your vet. Such products are applied to the back of the dog’s neck where it then distributes itself around the skin and hair follicles. A regular approach will help to kill most ticks before they have the chance to transmit the disease. You should also check your dog’s fur regularly for any small bumps. Should your dog get a tick, it’s best to seek advice from your vet on treatment and how to remove the ticks.

This post is sponsored by FRONTLINE® Spot On, as part of their nationwide campaign – ‘Be Tick Aware’ - designed to increase dog owners’ awareness of ticks, the diseases they transmit and how to treat them. The campaign is backed by celebrity DJ Sara Cox and dog-mum to Bassett Hound Snoop and TV vet Marc Abraham. For more information on the Be Tick Aware campaign and how to prevent ticks, visit uk.frontline.com or @BeTickAware on Twitter.

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