Pet owners should take extra precautions walking their dogs this autumn, as tick season has arrived. The findings by Direct Line Pet Insurance show that a vet typically sees some 53 tick-related cases every year, some with severe consequences. Ticks can also be carriers for Lyme disease, which poses a risk for owners if their pets are left untreated causing flu-like symptoms or even paralysis of facial muscles and even heart failure.
The average cost of treating a tick bite is £38
Almost one in five vets (18 per cent) say they see more than 100 cases involving ticks each year, with some treating upwards of 250 bitten dogs. Nearly 70 per cent of dog owners report that their dogs are bitten by ticks at least once per year, while seven per cent say their dogs experience tick bites more than ten times per year.
Tick bites can lead to anything from localised irritation in dogs to paralysis and even death. While nearly half of the vets surveyed (47 per cent) named localised infection as the most serious complication treated as a result of tick bites, a further six per cent described serious conditions such as nasty infections, blood clotting and even some bites requiring surgical intervention - all possible threats a tiny tick bite can bring to four-legged friends.
When pets are brought in for treatment, the average cost of treating a tick bite is £38. But if the pet has contracted a tick-related illness, the figure can jump to as much as £591. The latter can involve surgery or blood transfusions and in the worst case even death.
How to protect your dog from tick-related diseases
- Use tick repellents, such as sprays or special collars to protect your dog from bites
- Keep an eye on your dog's behaviour as lethargy is a common symptom of a tick bite
- Feel for ticks on your dog's body by checking for unusual lumps, including under the collar, inside the ears and between the paws
- If you find a tick, keep calm and make sure you remove it the correct way. Don’t attempt to burn it off. Contrary to belief, heat doesn't encourage them to detach from the skin. Also, resist the temptation to squeeze or crush the tick as the body might break off, leaving the head embedded within the skin.
- Your number one goal is to remove all parts of the tick’s body without it releasing any additional saliva or regurgitating its stomach contents into the wound. Experts recommend The O'Tom Tick Twister (Vet UK, £2.23) which cradles the tick without adding pressure to its mouth and allows you to remove it using an effective twisting technique that isn't recommended when using tweezers. Badu-UK has a guide on how to use this tool.
- For more money-saving tips, pick up the latest copy of Yours