As dog owners we know the perils of the seasons. Summer is too hot, and we have to vary our dog walking times in line with how hot it is, and Autumn and Winter often mean cold and wet mornings.
But as Autumn gets underway, something else dog owners have to look out for are seasonal canine illnesses and tick season and with The Met Office predicting that temperatures will rise above 20C during the first few weeks of October, making for one of the warmest autumns in recent years, according to experts, this also means that the tick season will be longer than usual with the tiny parasites more likely to continue breeding and feeding in the UK’s grassland and wooded areas.
With vets reporting than nearly 70% of dogs are bitten each year by ticks at least once, new research conducted by Direct Line Pet Insurance has revealed just how many dogs, and even owners, are being affected by the parasite and the diseases it carries.
According to the pet insurer, British vets see on average 53 tick-related cases every year and almost one in five British vets say they see more than 100 cases involving ticks each year, with some treating upwards of 250 bitten dogs, some with severe consequences.
Ticks can also be carriers for Lyme disease, which pose a risk for owners if their pets are left untreated causing flu-like symptoms or even paralysis of facial muscles and even heart failure.
Tick bites can lead to anything from localised irritation in dogs to paralysis and even death. While nearly half of the vets surveyed named localised infection as the most serious complication treated as a result of tick bites, a further six per cent described serious conditions such as nasty infections, blood clotting and even some bites requiring surgical intervention – all possible threats a tiny tick bite can bring to four legged friends.
Prit Powar, head of pet insurance at Direct Line, said “Frequent walks outside are great for both you and your pet. However, with tick season upon us, extra precautions should be taken by owners to keep their dogs tick-free. Ticks are not only a nuisance, but can spread disease to pets and humans, such as localised infections and in more serious cases, Lyme disease.”
Top Tips for Protecting Your Dog from Tick-Related Diseases
- Use tick repellents, such as sprays or special collars to protect your dog from bites
- Keep an eye on your dog’s behaviour as lethargy is a common symptom of a tick bite
- Feel for ticks on your dog’s body by checking for unusual lumps, including under the collar, inside the ears and between the paws
- If you find a tick, keep calm and make sure you remove it the correct way (see an example here)
Offering some final words of advice, Alice Mayne, Head of Recreation at the Forestry Commission has also spoken out about the dangers of ticks, “The forests look stunning at this time of the year and we have our highest number of visitors enjoying walks. While we want dog owners to enjoy the forests, we encourage a responsible approach. This means not only keeping control of your dog, respecting other visitors but also being vigilant for pests like ticks. Do a thorough check on yourself and your dog before leaving.”