Ticked off with ticks?
Asl the vet
Esther Van Luipen
For most ticks, this is their favourite time of the year, when the weather is mild to warm and it is moist. When we go on holiday we like to go to places like Spain or France where we can relax and enjoy good food. When ticks go on holidays, they like to go to a dog or a cat.
Animals’ skin is warm and comfortable, and while the tick relaxes, it can suck up its favourite meal: blood. Ticks are normally only small, flat little bugs, but when they latch on to a dog or cat they can suck up so much blood that they become about six times their original size.
Can ticks be passed on to humans? Yes, they can! And that is why it is so important to prevent them travelling on your pet. Ticks in our country can cause Lyme disease (or Borelliosis), Ehrlichiosis Babesiosis (in Ireland, this only causes redwater in cattle) and Bartonellosis (especially in cats). Lyme disease has been in the news a lot lately. In humans, it can cause a rash and flu-like symptoms, such as headache, sore throat, neck stiffness, fever, muscle aches and general fatigue. When not treated in time, it can result in more serious symptoms involving the nervous system, joints or the heart, or other tissues.
Give it a twist
If your pet has a tick, don’t just yank it off – that way the tick’s mouth parts, which are anchored into the skin, will stay behind and can often form an abscess. It is also important not to squeeze the body of the tick because that way the contents of the ticks body can be released into the pet’s bloodstream, increasing the risk of disease.
The proper way to pull out a tick is to actually unscrew it. So, when you want to remove a tick from your pet you need to grab it, trying to put as little pressure to its body as possible, and twist it a few times clockwise or anti clockwise until it lets go of your pet.
–There are little devices to help you to do this available at your local vet. The safest device is called the O’Tom Tick Twister.
The best thing, though, is to prevent ticks entirely. There are very good spot ons available at the vet. These will work for one month. For a longer period without ticks there is a new product available: a special tick-collar called Seresto. This collar will work against ticks (and fleas) for up to six months. All you need to do is to pop one of these collars on in the spring and your pet will enjoy a good, long tick- and flea-free spell.