Ticks - What are they and how do I remove them?

What are ticks?

Ticks are small black/brown parasites (between 1mm and 10mm) from the same family as spiders.  Ticks are like mosquitoes in that they bite to get blood from hosts and are active from April to October.  They can be found in woods, bushes and long grass.  Unfortunately they may make their way into your garden.

How do ticks find a host?

Ticks will climb onto long grass or a bush and drop onto a host as it passes.  Dogs cover much more ground on a walk than we do, and tend to favour exploring in the grass so your dog is much more likely than you to be chosen as a host for a tick.   

How to spot ticks:

Tick bites are not always painful, you may not notice a tick unless you see it on the skin or clothing. After your walks be sure to look over your dog.  Short-haired dogs are easier to examine but it is possible to see or feel them on longer-haired breeds. Ticks will find a nice warm spot.  Pay particular attention to behind the ears, around the eyes, under the collar, around the tail, between the toes and behind the legs.

How to remove a tick:

Use a special tick remover if you find a tick. Rosewood Tick Remover – www.leathernoses.co.uk

It's important to remove them properly and using your finger or tweezers isn't recommended.  Ticks can spread bacteria in the first 24 hours so try to check and remove ASAP.

Use one hand to remove as many hairs as you can out of the way.  Put the tick remover tool as close as you can to your dog's skin and grasp the tick.  Be careful not to squeeze or crush it. Clean the bite with antiseptic or soap and water.

How to avoid ticks:

Walk on clearly marked paths to avoid brushing against vegetation

Cover your skin when walking outdoors and tuck your trousers into socks

wear light-coloured clothes so ticks can be seen and brushed off

Use insect repellents such as DEET

Check your clothes, body and your pets for ticks regularly

Consider using insect repellents on your dog such as those in the Be:Loved range Be:Loved - At Leather Noses Luxury Dog Accessories – www.leathernoses.co.uk

Should you be worried?

The chances of you getting ill is low but if you get a rash or start to feel unwell be sure to go to the doctor.  If your dog behaves differently after being bitten contact your vet.  Symptoms of Lyme disease include fever, loss of appetite, lameness, stiffness or a general lack of enthusiasm.

Tick prevention solutions are available if you think they may be prevalent where you walk, but being vigilant and avoiding certain overgrown areas can help reduce the chances of picking one up.  Stay on clear paths if possible and wear long clothing to cover your skin. Ticks are easier to see on lighter coloured clothing and can be brushed off quickly. 

Further help and advice can be found on the NHS website:

Tick-borne disease in the UK: stay safe this spring and summer - UK Health Security Agency (blog.gov.uk)

Tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) - NHS (www.nhs.uk)