What are Ticks?
Ticks are an ecto parasite that is part of the arachnid family, this makes them related to spiders.
They have 3 life stages and to reach maturity they need to feed on the blood of at least 3 host animals to complete their life cycle from Nymph to adult.
To feed from an animal they attach themselves by twisting their mouth part clockwise into the skin, they will then feed for around 5 days, once they are engorged they will fall off, and are able to reproduce, females will then lay eggs at ground level.
Ticks like less furry places to attach too so always after a walk or when your cats comes in check them over but pay particular attention to the groin and foreleg pit areas, the skin in these area’s is also thinner and so veins are closer to the surface. But that doesn’t mean to say that they won’t attach on another parts of the animals anatomy so give it a full check over head to tail to check for anything that feels different, not only are you looking for ticks but also grass seeds can become embedded at this time of year, particularly in longer coated dogs.
The first thing is to be prepared, your pet can pick up a tick at any time, Dogs and cats are out and about on walks or hunting all the time, and Ticks just sit and wait in grass, long or short or on plants or on bushes, waiting for an animal, be it two or four legged to come by and then they crawl on, they cannot jump.
So to be prepared you need to have in your dog first aid kit or a drawer at home the O’ Tom Tick remover, you can buy them online or from your local petshop or vet.
What ever you do, DO NOT smother the tick with Vaseline or chewing gum or another liquid, or burn the tick with a cigarette or match. These things can make the tick regurgitate the contents of it’s stomach thus increasing the chances of the animal contracting an illness such as Lyme disease from the tick.
So you have come home and you find a tick on your pet, and you have the O’Tom tick hook, now what do you do?
Well first you need to calm your pet or ensure it is secure, this is because you do not want it to struggle while you use the tick hook as this could cause you to pull on the tick and leave the head of the tick embedded in the skin, as which point you will require a visit to your vets to have it removed.
So choose your hook size most adult ticks will need the large size hook and smaller nymphs need the smaller hook to remove them.
Slide the correct size hook under between the skin and the body of the tick and then rotate anti clock wise do not pull just twist after a few turns the tick will be unscrewed from the body and will easily come away, then you have to dispose of the tick, you can squash it or burn it once it is no longer attached to it’s host, do not just wash it down the sink as it will still survive this and go on to find another host.
Now you have removed your tick you can clean the wound site, with some antibacterial wash or salt water, the area may be swollen for a few day’s but this will go down.
If you are in an area that has Lyme disease infected Ticks please keep an eye on your pet for any listlessness, potentially a high temperature you may even see a bulls eye mark on an area of skin where there is less fur, if you see this then get to your Vet as soon as possible for antibiotic treatment.
Clair Litster-Huckle has a BSc (Hons) in Animal Behaviour and Welfare and an MSc Animal Behaviour and Training and has studied Canine psychology and Canine diet and nutrition.