Our tick friends are at their most active right now and could be lurking in your garden, local park, woodland and even urban areas – nowhere is safe! Now, aside from being creepy and very crawly, these blood sucking parasites can also carry nasty tick-borne diseases, such as Lyme disease, which they can pass onto your furry friend (or you!) as they feed – yuk!
Lyme disease is a serious condition found in the UK and can be fatal if left untreated. It’s caused by a nasty bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi and can affect dogs, humans and, less commonly, our feline friends too! Ticks can become carriers of this disease after feeding on the blood of infected wildlife, which act as a reservoir for this infection.
Worryingly, the most common type of tick found on our pets (the sheep tick (Ixodes ricinus) is the main carrier of this disease! Humans should beware too, as this tick can also attach to, and infect, us – so watch out!
How can you tell if your pet has Lyme disease?
Unlike humans, who often get a tell-tale rash as an early warning sign, our furry friends sadly do not. The earliest signs in pets are usually less specific and include: loss of appetite, tiredness, low energy and sometimes lameness. Lyme disease basically causes flu-like symptoms and can make your pet feel very ‘off-colour’ and they may also develop a fever.
So, if you notice that your four-legged friend suddenly seems more tired than usual, or if they are showing any of the other symptoms - get them checked out by your vet ASAP. Even if you haven’t noticed any ticks on your pet, it’s possible they could have already fallen off after filling their tums, leaving behind a nasty infection.
Prevention is key!
It’s vital that we, as pet owners, take action against ticks to protect our four-legged friends from tick-borne infections. To help you, here are our top-5 tick-busting tips:
*ESCCAP, Ticks: information for pet owners, Fact Sheet 2 V001, 2011
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