Ticks could be a growing problem in the UK, according to research, potentially spreading illnesses like Lyme disease not only to humans, but also to your dog.
So, to help gather more information and at the same time raise awareness of the dangers of ticks, the University of Bristol is launching the Big Tick Project, which is being supported by wildlife lover and TV presenter Chris Packham, as well as vets across the country.
The project aims to create the UK's biggest collection of ticks from dogs, which might sound a little odd, but could help increase knowledge of ticks in the UK and the threats they pose to pets and humans. Vets will be supporting the initiative by sending in the ticks they remove from dogs, and offering tick checks to dog owners as part of veterinary appointments. Owners who take part will receive a Big Tick Project certificate in gratitude of their help advancing the UK's knowledge of ticks and their risks.
Also aiming to simply raise awareness of how tick bites can affect dogs, the project hopes to encourage more people to take steps to keep their pet tick-free.
Fortunately, there are many ways to do so. It's best to start by discussing the options with your vet, as they will be able to help you find the best method for you and your pet. The use of sprays, chewable medications and other medicine can help prevent ticks - but it is crucial to administer these exactly as your vet recommendations. Forgetting to do so means your pet will be at risk again.
Grooming your pet regularly is another important preventative measure, especially as it will help you spot any ticks attached to your dog's skin. To check your pet over, begin at his head, remembering to check behind his ears, then continue down its forelegs and over the rest of the body. You are looking for lumps on the skin.
If you find any, part the fur and take a close look - if there is a tick, you should be able to spot the tick's legs at the level of the skin. Removing a tick is delicate work that requires a specially designed hook - if you try to simply pull it off, it can leave parts of the tick in your dog's skin and the problem will continue. If you don't feel confident about doing it yourself, it is best to visit your vet.
Written by: Hannah Dyball