None of us like the thought of creepy crawlies on our pets, but it is the warm part of the year when they are around in higher numbers. SO, STAY ALERT We asked vet Vicky Simon to give an integrated overview of how to approach the dreaded tick problem.
Check for ticks every day
Ticks are a particularly unpleasant thought for us all, as they can bite humans as well as pets, and we all know they can transmit diseases such as Lyme disease to humans or pets alike. We are in prime tick season so it’s really important that you check your pets regularly for ticks, especially if they have been out in forest or long grass areas, as ticks are more common here. Some pets seem more prone to picking them up than others, so you’ll probably know if your pet is one of these! Cats and horses can get them as commonly as dogs if you live in certain areas, so be sure to check them over too.
Removal is a must
Our collie (pictured below) has a long coat and loves to race around in long grass so she can be prone to picking up ticks. We check her over every day and she is very compliant as you can see! We make it a lovely cuddle/stroke/rub down, and have taken to referring to it as ‘Tick or Nipple’ – you’d be surprised how often you’re sure you’ve found a tick, only to find another nipple 😂. Ticks should ideally be removed within 12 to 24 hours of biting to minimise the risk of potential disease transmission. A specific tick remover is best, as you’re much more likely to remove the tick fully and safely – you can get these from your local vet if you don’t have one. You should never smother or burn ticks, as any form of distress can encourage them to regurgitate their stomach contents into your pet, making disease transmission more common.
Natural tick repellents
If your pet picks them up continuously, you live in a high-risk area, your pet is not amenable to being checked over for whatever reason, or you are not able to easily check them over then you should consider a tick repellent. You can get ultrasonic flea and tick repellent attachments for collars, which clients have reported great results with, although you must remember not to let them get very wet as they stop working. Other natural repellents can be used, but they give variable results, and there are no studies as to their effectiveness. Be careful with any products that use essential oils, as some of these are dangerous to use in pets, especially cats as they are very sensitive to volatile oils in herbal products.
Chemical treatments – pros and cons
The other option is to use a short term spot-on or collar, just for the high-risk season, especially if you live in a high risk for Lyme disease area. However, you should always ensure that your pet is not allowed in any surface water for at least three to four days after the spot-on is applied, or to swim at all when wearing the collar. Not only will allowing this decrease the effectiveness of the product, but more importantly it can lead to contamination of the environment with the insecticides in the product.
There is increasing evidence that the use of preventative insecticides in our pets is polluting our environment and adding to the decline in insect numbers affecting our countryside. The chemicals in spot-ons are normally not insect-specific and so if they get into the ground or water, they can kill a lot of insects they encounter, including bees – our essential pollinators. There is a place for these treatments, but they should be used with care if we want to protect our environment, and the future for our pets and ourselves.
Protect your Pet. Protect our Planet.
A case study of a dog with Lyme Disease
Top tips from CAM4animals supporters
Changing from chemical to a more natural approach
A look at the range of health and environmental problems with chemical treatments
Tick off necklaces
Vicky Simon BVetMed VetMFHom MRCVS
Vicky is a veterinary surgeon practising integrated veterinary medicine by combining her knowledge of conventional medicine, with that of various complementary approaches. These include herbal medicine, homeopathy, acupuncture and species-appropriate feeding.
Vicky spent her first 7 years in two small animal integrated veterinary practices, where conventional medicine, surgery and diagnostics were used alongside herbal medicine, homeopathy, natural feeding and acupuncture. Holistic medical approaches have always appealed to her, so she was lucky to be able to pursue these immediately.
Having qualified as a veterinary surgeon in 2012, Vicky established ‘Holistic Vet Vicky’ in 2020 in Wiveliscombe, near Taunton, Devon. She takes referrals for holistic veterinary medicine, and offers general holistic health advice. Vicky always aims to work closely with referring veterinary practices to optimise the health and well-being of her patients. She mostly treat dogs and cats, but also sees horses, rabbits and guinea pigs and other small furries, as well as the occasional chicken.
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This blog may also contain an element of consumer opinion. Whilst CAM4animals welcomes positive recommendations for holistic healthcare products, we don’t necessarily endorse the product or the author’s opinion. We acknowledge that each animal is an individual and may react differently to the highlighted product/s. There may also be other products available that produce similarly positive results.
The veterinary Surgeon’s Act 1966 restricts the treatment of animals (usually other than your own*) by anyone other than a qualified vet. Always consult a veterinary surgeon if you are concerned about your animal’s health. *For full details visit the RCVS website