Ticks are tiny arachnids which form part of a superorder of parasites, along with Mites, they form the sub-class of Acari.
Ticks, typically 3 to 5mm long, are external parasites. They grow and survive by feeding on mammals like birds, dogs or humans. In the UK, Tick distribution is thought to have expanded by 17% in the last decade alone, and researchers believe that up to one third of UK dogs are carrying ticks.
Once they’ve found the appropriate host, Ticks will attach themselves the victim using a pair of claws on each of their appendages. Depending on the stage in their lifecycle, Ticks will spend different lengths of time sucking blood from their host.
The prime danger associated with Ticks is in the disease they carry as vectors for infections. In some cases, they can also cause allergic reactions in their host, or a separate infection at the site of the bite mark if removed improperly.
The Sheep Tick (Ixodes Ricinus), or the Caster Bean Tick, accounts for 71% of ticks affecting dogs in the UK.
After taking your dog for a walk, especially though wooded areas, check for ticks. You can do this by gently moving your hand over their body and take note of any lumps of unusually bumps. Some areas you might consider closer inspection on are:
Ticks will vary in size depending on their lifecycle stage, species and even the length of time they’ve already spent feeding. Look out for small oval shaped spider-like insects. The Tick may sometimes be accompanied by swelling.
Do not attempt to pull off a Tick if you spot one on your dog. The mouth pieces of Ticks can sometimes remain lodged in the pet, or the blood sac may be deposited back into the host causing infection. Doing this might also cause an allergic reaction in your dog.
Ticks are incapable of flight or great leaps, but they are patient. Many species of Tick lie in wait in a position known as "questing". While questing, ticks cling to leaves and grasses by their third and fourth pairs of legs for passing hosts.
Females lay eggs in the spring, about 2,000 that are almost microscopic in size. After she lays the egg, the female shrivels and dies. The Tick eggs hatch in the summer of the same year.
After it’s hatched, it emerges as the larvae, after its first blood meal, the nymph and finally, in its final stage in life, the adult.
Larvae eggs ticks are small six-legged arachnids. They only acquire the eighth by feasting on a blood meal and moulting into their third stage, the nymph stage.
Nymphs have eight legs, tipped with claws and sometime enhanced with a complex sensory structure called Haller’s Organ. The Tick uses this organ to sense humidity, carbon dioxide, temperatures. It also uses this organ to detect approaching hosts, through odours or chemicals emanating from them.
The slow metabolism of the Tick allows it to wait long periods in between meals and endure dehydration for many months.
In the UK, Ticks usually reside in grasslands, scrubs, shrubs, moors or low-hanging tree branches. They use these to get the drop on unsuspecting hosts unlucky enough to pass by.
A particular red-zone for Ticks is anywhere where two biological communities transition, for example, the area where a field meets a forest. These unmaintained habitats are what’s known as Ecotones. You can identify these ecotones as the edges of open areas of fields or forests. These are prime spots for questing Ticks.
There are many Tick-borne diseases which affect dogs, other animals and humans. Ticks are vectors for a variety of pathogens including rickettsia and other bacteria, viruses and protozoa. Ticks can also harbour more than one disease-causing agent, so dogs may be infected with more than one pathogen at the same time.
Lyme disease is the main risk of Tick bites in the UK for dogs. It is also a fairly common canine disease. Lyme disease is caused by a spirochete (bacteria) of Borrelia burgdorferi species, which are transmitted by the Tick during feeding. Most Ticks will be attached for more than 24 hours to transmit Lyme disease.
Typical symptoms include:
Symptoms can progress to kidney failure, which can be fatal. Serious cardiac and neurological effects can also occur.
Inflammatory arthritic disorders, such as arthritis, can occur in sufferers of Lyme disease.
Ticks are commonly active in warm weather. They tend to flourish in humid climates or when temperatures rise above a certain degree, this is because they require a certain amount of moisture in the air to undergo metamorphosis. Pet owners should be aware though, this is only a preference, some ticks can live in unconventional environments throughout the year.
If you suspect your dog as being host to a tick infestation, contact your vet for a full-body diagnosis. They will advise on the correct treatment to seek.
For a broad ranging acaricidal - that targets over 90% of all tick species, including those which are known to transmit the serious diseases Babesiosis, Ehrlichiosis and Lyme disease - we recommend Activyl Tick Plus which comes in three sizes, depending on the size and weight of your dog:
Small dogs weighing between 5 – 10kg should be treated with Activyl Tick Plus Spot-on Solution Small Dogs 150mg (Pack of 4).
Medium dogs from 10.1 – 20kg should be treated with Activyl Tick Plus Spot-on Solution Medium Dogs 300mg (Pack of 4).
Finally, Large dogs from 20.1 – 40kg should be treated with Activyl Tick Plus Spot-on Solution Large Dogs 600mg (Pack of 4).
It can be used on dogs only and provides effective flea and tick control for 4 weeks after the application of one small pipette.
Duoflect Spot-on solution is a clear yellow spot on solution that’s applied the same way as Activyl. This clear yellow solution treats and prevents, not only ticks, but fleas as well. It targets specifically the Ornate Cow Tick (Dermacentor reticulatus) and the Brown Dog Tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus) for up to six weeks after application while also inhibiting the hatching of flea eggs and the development of flea eggs into adult fleas for up to eight weeks after application.
Dogs and cats between 2 and 10kg can be treated with the same solution and come in two different sizes, Pack of 3 Pipettes and Pack of 6 Pipettes. Your requirements will depend on the degree of infestation and length of treatment.
For small dogs only between 10 and 20kg:
For medium dogs only between 20kg and 40kg;
For large dogs only between 40kg and 60kg:
In addition to targeting the Brown Dog Tick and the Ornate Cow Tick, both commonly found in Europe, Effol Duo Pro Spot-on solution for Dogs treats infestations of the Caster Bean Tick (Ixodes Ricinus) for up to two weeks after application.
Another popular method of Tick treatment comes in chewable tablets, typically mushed up and feed to dogs during their teatime. Chewables are sometimes favoured over spot-ons by parents who may not want their children coming into contact with their pet directly after application.
Credelio Chewable Tablets for Dogs treatsfleas and ticks for up to one month. Credelio targets all the main species of tick while also killing all traces of the Hedgehog Tick (I. hexagonus), an almost exclusively European parasite.
There are four sizes available in packs of six pipettes for dogs weighing:
Similarly, Simparica Chewable Tablets for Dogs is another chewable that can be crushed up and fed to dogs at mealtimes. It targets the Ornate Cow, the Brown Dog, the Caster Bean and Hedgehog Tick for up to five weeks. It is available in packs of 3 pipettes in:
Bravecto Chewable Tablets for Dogs is perhaps the most popular solution available for its simplicity of use and its ability to quickly and effectively for up to 12 weeks.
The chewable tablets eliminate up to 99% of fleas and ticks within 8-12 hours of ingestion and 100% of them within the 12-week period. They are also indicated for the treatment of demodicosis caused by Demodex canis and for the treatment of sarcoptic mange highly contagious skin disease found in dogs, caused by the Sarcoptes scabiei mite. Both infection results in patches of hair loss and red scaling skin.
Bravecto is available for:
Where there is a concurrent infection of fleas, ticks and an infestation of adult gastrointestinal worms (roundworm, hookworm or whipworm), we recommend NexGard Spectra, which is another Chewable Tablet available for Dogs
NexGard also kills Heartworm larvae up to one month after their transmission by mosquitoes and should therefore be administered at regularly monthly intervals during the time of year when vectors are present, starting at the month of the first expected exposure to mosquitoes.