Ticks are egg-shaped, spider-like creatures that are common in parks, woodland, grassland and heath areas. They are now present in most parks and it is important to check your dog for these following every walk.
Ticks carry some serious diseases, so it’s important to remove any that attach themselves to your dog. This is not easy, as you need to be careful not to squeeze the tick’s body, or allow its head to get stuck inside your dog as residual bits of tick can lead to infection. Pet shops sell specific tick-removal devices which can make this process easier. Ask your vet for advice as there is also specific tick treatment available for ticks.
Lyme disease is a serious illness carried by ticks which affects humans much more severely than dogs. In humans, Lyme disease can be life-threatening if left untreated, for dogs it is much less worrying. Only 5-10% of dogs with Lyme disease will show any symptoms.
Dogs may experience chronic lameness or fever. Symptoms are rarely more serious than that. It is very easily treatable with antibiotics.
Visit your doctor if you’ve found ticks on your dog and are experiencing flu-like symptoms or extreme lethargy. Let them know you have a pet and ask that they test you for Lyme disease. You should get your pet tested at the vet’s too.
Most people develop a skin reaction around the site of the tick bite which is an obvious sign of Lyme disease. The rash is distinctive, in the shape of a bullseye, and usually develops between a week and a month after being bitten. However, a third of people infected with Lyme disease don’t get a rash so do not wait to develop one.
The size of the rash can vary significantly and it may expand over several days or weeks. Typically, it’s around 15cm (6 inches) across, but it can be much larger or smaller than this. Some people develop several rashes in different parts of their body.
Never burn a tick off or try and use chemicals to kill it. After you’ve removed a tick, keep the tick in a container to show to the vet so they can ensure has been removed entirely.
First Aid for Pets provides this information for guidance and it is not in any way a substitute for veterinary advice. The author does not accept any liability or responsibility for any inaccuracies or for any mistreatment or misdiagnosis of any person or animal, however caused. It is strongly advised that you attend a practical First Aid for Pets course or take our online course to understand what to do in a medical emergency.