Ticks urghhhhhh… If like me, you are constantly out and about walking your dogs and children you are likely to come across a tick at some point. The mere mention of them makes my skin crawl and any blood sucking parasite is high on my list of things to avoid. As far as I can tell they are a pointless waste of life, they spread diseases and I am as yet to find a useful purpose for them! I especially hate it when you see something that looks like an apple pip lying on the floor at home… only on closer inspection do you discover it is in fact a fat blood filled tick!! My nan used to use the phrase “I can’t eat another thing dear… I am as full as a great big tick.”
“I can’t eat another thing dear… I am as full as a great big tick.”
I check and treat my own dogs regularly following my vets recommendations and I carry a flea / tick hook with me on walks – I make sure there is one of these in every one of my First Aid Kit For Dogs.
Ticks that have bitten / fed from an infected previous host, can infect a human or dog with Lyme Disease. This isn’t a topic I particularly enjoy writing about, but having discovered two on my own daughters this week (one was on the scalp of my 7 year old the other on the body of the 11 year old) after walking the dogs in local woods, I felt the need to research the subject more, and will happily share my findings with you!
Apparently we should tolerate ticks for three reasons:
- Ticks are food for other animals. Reptiles, amphibians, and birds all consume ticks. The awful parasites are an essential food source for animals that forage in the places where ticks live.
- Ticks host a remarkable variety of other organisms, namely micro-parasites (not really a massive tick in the box – excuse the pun!!)
- Ticks help control the populations of their larger hosts. In the same way a lions control the population of gazelle or wildebeest on the African plains, ticks play a role in maintaining a balance within an ecosystem.
Still not convinced personally! However this is an organism that has been around for millions of years and is believed to have been around bugging the dinosaurs… They are obviously stubborn and highly adaptable so I don’t think they will be going anywhere soon!
Where do ticks live?
How do you ‘catch’ them?
There are many different species of tick and there are four-stages in their life cycle: egg, larva, nymph, and adult. Larvae, nymphs and adults spend most of the time on the ground protected by leaf litter, leaving this protection to find a meal. They feed only once in each stage, staying attached for a few days, then dropping to the ground to moult into the next stage or overwinter. The whole life cycle from egg to adult lasts around 2 years.
Ticks are around all year, but they are most active between the months of March – October and can be found in any place with moist air, where they are protected from drying out and they particularly like areas with moderate to high rainfall, vegetation and that retains a high humidity.
Typical habitats include:
- Rough pasture
- Private gardens – that have shady shrubberies or deep vegetation
So, in a nutshell, most places really!
Stay safe whilst out and about by wearing long trousers and tuck them into socks / boots! Stay on the paths as ticks are normally found in the thick vegetation and be vigilant when you get home. Check yourself, children and dogs before letting them in the house. Wearing light coloured clothing will help you spot a tick before it attaches itself.
Ticks don’t jump, but they do have sensors to detect passing prey and hooked front legs, so if you have one on you it is likely that you have brushed past it. They will crawl around until they find the optimum spot to attached themselves. Quite how one was in my daughter's scalp is beyond me… but then she has been pretty feral this summer holiday! You should also speak to your vets about the right choice in tick treatment / prevention for your dog and check them regularly.
WITH OUR DOG FIRST AID KIT