Here’s how to spot ticks in cats and dogs - and symptoms of Lyme disease

Friday, 8th May 2020, 3:36 pm
Updated Friday, 8th May 2020, 3:36 pm
The month of May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month, but do you know how to check if your pet has ticks and the signs and symptoms of Lyme disease? (Photo: Shutterstock)

The month of May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month, but do you know how to check if your pet has ticks and the signs and symptoms of Lyme disease?

Here’s what you need to know about ticks in cats and dogs, how to treat and prevent them, and the signs and symptoms of Lyme disease.

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What is a tick?

Grain free pet food experts Canagan have compiled their top tips on how to spot the signs of ticks in both dogs and cats.

They explain that a tick is a very small parasite that often lives in either grassland or woodland.

Ticks tend to latch onto a host, which includes cats, dogs, sheeps and humans, and when they do so, they can grow to the size of a pea.

What do they look like?

Ticks come in a wide range of sizes and colours. There are hundreds of different varieties that can be found across the country throughout the year.

However, ticks are most commonly found in spring and summer when temperatures begin to rise.

How can I check if my pet has ticks?

Ticks feed on blood, and when full, they tend to swell up and usually look like small warts or bumps in your pet’s skin. You may also be able to see the tick’s legs, as only it’s head beds into the skin.

Ticks generally target the warmest area of a pet’s body. This is most commonly your pet’s head or neck, but ticks can also be found under their collar, in between their toes, or in their ears or groin area.

When is the best time to check my pet for ticks?

After you have taken your dog for a walk in a rural or grassy area, or when your cat has come back inside, it’s best to check their entire body for ticks in order to limit any damage.

Can ticks be harmful to my pet?

Most pets won’t be adversely affected by ticks. However, some ticks do carry diseases that they have picked up from other animals, so you do need to keep a close eye on your pet if they have recently had a tick bite.

This can include Lyme disease, which is one of the most common diseases spread through tick bites for dogs, but it is relatively uncommon in cats. It’s a serious bacterial infection that affects mammals and is primarily caused by deer ticks.

What are the symptoms of Lyme disease?

Some of the symptoms of Lyme disease in pets include:

A feverLoss of appetiteReduced energyLamenessStiffness and discomfortJoint swellingTick paralysis

This condition is caused by toxins produced in the salivary gland of some female ticks, which is then released into the bloodstream of pets when they’re bitten.

If you do notice any of the above symptoms in your pet, seek veterinary attention immediately.

How can I get rid of ticks?

If you notice that your cat or dog has a tick, do not pull it out with your fingers, or squeeze the tick’s body, as the blood can be pushed back into your pet’s body and increase their risk of disease.

You can purchase tick removal tools, but if you’re not confident in how to remove a tick yourself, then it’s always wise to ask your vet how to do so.

There are also a few different tick treatments available, including spot-ons, tablets and collars, but again, if you’re unsure about what treatment is best for your pet, ask your vet.

Preventing ticks

If you live in a high-risk area, try to walk your dog on paths or other safe areas, and try to avoid woodland and long grass where possible.

Check your dog after every walk, and your cat when they return from exploring the outdoors.

Keep your garden tidy and free of tick habitat. Cut the grass regularly and rake up fallen leaves.