Ticks in the UK: Scheme to Promote Tick Awareness

Owning a pet can lead to many fantastic adventures, so the last thing you want is for these to be curtailed by your dog or cat picking up a tick. A public health scheme has been created by the government in order to increase tick awareness and provide tick surveillance. We spoke to our pet health expert to find out more about this, as well as how to spot and deal with ticks on pets. Read on to find out more.

Ticks in the UK - dog rolling in grass

Tick awareness

There are various campaigns aimed at raising tick awareness, some of which monitor the presence of ticks through veterinary practices. Speak to your vet to find out if they’re participating in one during 2020! On top of this, there’s also been a government initiative, which we’ll look into in more detail below.

What does the scheme hope to achieve?

The main aims of the government scheme are to:

  • Promote the surveillance of ticks in the UK
  • Monitor tick distribution and seasonality on a nationwide scale
  • Determine the diversity of ticks infesting humans and animals
  • Detect non-native or rare UK tick species.

Who is involved?

For the scheme to be a success, it relies upon the public, vets, doctors, wildlife groups and anyone else who has found a tick, to submit ticks. If you have removed a tick from your pet, or even yourself, you can help the scheme by sending the tick or ticks away for identification. If you find a tick after travelling abroad or rescuing a pet from overseas, it’s highly recommended to submit the parasite. This is because ticks from abroad can present different risks to native varieties.

More about ticks

It’s all well and good knowing about the tick awareness scheme, but it’s also really useful to know how to identify and deal with ticks in the first place! Below we’ll go into everything you need to know about ticks.

Ticks in the UK - tick on fur

What are ticks?

Ticks are parasites that attach to animals and feed off their blood until satiated, at which point they’ll drop off their host. They can cause irritation and carry diseases, the most well-known of which is Lyme’s disease. In cases of heavy infestation, the blood loss can lead to anaemia. In the UK, ticks are present all year round, but they become much more active between spring and autumn, typically with maximum activity between April and June.

The parasite tends to be found in woodland, heathland and areas with long grass. Unlike many insects, ticks cannot jump or fly. Instead, they drop or climb onto an animal’s fur as they brush past.  

How to spot a tick

Ticks can vary in size, from 1mm to 1cm, depending on how recently they’ve eaten. Their colour can also vary, from pale cream to dark grey, or any shade in between the two. Once they’re attached to the skin, they might resemble a small oval pebble, and can easily be discovered by running your hands over your pet. Ticks tend to prefer less hairy areas of a dog or cat’s body, so the insides of their legs, face, neck and belly can all be good places to search.

Removing ticks

Removing ticks can be a delicate business, and we would recommend that you have your vet demonstrate the process before undertaking it yourself. If you are getting rid of a tick, use a tick-removal tool by sliding it in between the tick and your pet’s skin, slowly twisting to release the parasite. This needs to be carefully undertaken, so as to avoid leaving any mouthparts under the skin, which could lead to infection.

Once you’ve removed the tick, place it carefully into a container and dispose of it. Alternatively, you could send it in to the scheme for tick awareness! Never just throw a tick in the bin or outside without containing it first, as it will just find another animal, or the same one again, to latch onto.

Ticks in the UK - tick removal

Tick prevention

There are different tick prevention treatments on the market. Usually sold as either a tablet or spot-on treatment, they commonly protect against fleas as well. These are freely available in supermarkets, pet shops and veterinary surgeries, so you can easily pick them up for your pet. As another preventative measure, you can also avoid taking your pet through wooded areas or long grass as much as possible.

Hopefully this advice will help you know exactly what to do if your pet encounters a tick. If you have any questions about ticks or are concerned that your dog or cat might have picked one up, we would suggest asking your vet for advice. As a pet owner, you might also want to think about taking out pet insurance to help protect your dog or cat on their adventures. At The Insurance Emporium, we offer flexible Pet Insurance policies with cover for Vet’s Fees up to £8,000*. You could also get up to 30% discount^. Head to our product pages to find out more!

* Vet’s Fees cover up to £8,000 available on lunar monthly Lifetime Gold policies.

^ The 30% discount is made up of 20% Introductory Discount plus 10% Multi-pet Discount (if appropriate). The Introductory Discount is available for the first 12 premium payments on lunar and calendar monthly policies or one premium payment on annual policies.

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