Ticks – Nasty Little Critters

Ticks are small external parasites that attach to and suck the blood of animals.

Be Aware! – Check – Remove

There are three families of ticks. Some are hard shell and can resist being stepped on. The ‘Ixodidae’ tick has over 700 species and are commonly known as ‘the hard tick’


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  • Ticks attach to dogs and cats by climbing onto grass, low foliage or bushes where they wait for passing hosts (animals or people) to attach to and feed on.
  • Ticks thrive in moist, humid and bushy areas. They normally feed on native animals.
  • Most ticks are found around the head, neck and shoulders/forelegs, however they can potentially attach anywhere on your pet so it is important to also check areas such as the chest, back, abdomen, legs, tail, under the armpits and in between toes.
  • Checking your dog/cat daily for ticks is extremely important especially if you live in tick prone areas. To check your pet for ticks, use your fingertips to feel through your animal’s coat. Ticks or tick craters (raised areas where a tick may have attached) feel like small lumps on the skin surface.
  • If a tick is found, it should be removed as soon as possible. Tweezers or special tick removing hooks can be used to gently lever or pry them off the skin. (see below) Your veterinarian can show you the best way to do this.

The tick most likely to bite humans in Britain is the ‘Sheep’ tick. (Ixodes ricinus) Despite its name, the sheep tick will feed on a wide variety of mammals and birds.

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Remove the tick promptly – Remove all parts of the tick’s body to prevent it releasing additional saliva or regurgitating its stomach contents into your bite wound.

Use a proprietary tick removal tool and follow the instructions.

Two common types of removal tools available are the hook and the loop and are designed to be twisted to facilitate removal. Tools will grip the head of the tick without squashing the body.

Alternative Methods : With pointed tweezers (not blunt tweezers) grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible; without squeezing the tick’s body. Pull the tick out without twisting (it is difficult to twist tweezers without separating the tick’s head from its body) – there may be considerable resistance.

If no tools are available, rather than delay use a cotton thread. Tie a single loop of cotton around the tick’s mouthparts, as close to the skin as possible, then pull upwards and outwards without twisting.

Illustrations are for general guidance and do not represent any particular species


Sources: Wikipedia & UK/USA veterinary advisory services & Lyme Disease Action

Useful Resource : www.lymediseaseaction.org.uk/about-ticks/

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