Beware of Ticks Lurking in Meadows & Forests
Ticks become active once the temperature rises above 7°C for an extended period of time. These parasites belong to the mite order and are known for their robustness and resistance. They feed on the blood of various vertebrates, including humans, as well as animals such as dogs, cats, horses, birds, rats, and ruminants.
Across Europe and the UK, there exist approximately 20 tick species, with the common wood tick (Ixodes ricinus) being the most well-known. Ticks are classified into two categories of host finding: lurking and hunting. Lurkers wait on plants, bushes, or in the undergrowth for a passing dog or cat, while hunters actively search for a host organism. Consequently, dogs and cats are highly likely to bring these tiny parasites home with them after walking through meadows and forests.
Ticks are particularly feared because they can transmit dangerous diseases such as TBE and Lyme disease to pets through their bite. As the risk of disease transmission increases the longer a tick sucks undisturbed, ticks should always be removed as quickly as possible.
Preventing Tick Bites
Protecting dogs and cats from tick bites can be achieved through various means. Checking for ticks on free-roaming cats and dogs upon returning from a walk is advisable. The dense fur of these animals usually requires some time for ticks to find a suitable spot for biting, making it possible to collect ticks from their fur hours later before they bite.
To remove the bloodsucking parasites safely, ideally use suitable tick tweezers. Tick tweezers specially designed for the removal of bloodsuckers usually have a particularly fine tip so that even small larvae can be removed with the whole body.
In addition, it is possible to treat dogs and cats with a spot-on preparation. Spot-on preparations fall into two categories: repellents and antiparasitics. While repellents ensure that the tick does not even choose the treated animal as a host, antiparasitics have a lethal effect on the tick as a contact poison before it can even bite. A well-known example of such a spot-on antiparasitic is FRONTLINE.
Praxisdienst offers an array of natural tick repellents from the renowned manufacturer cdVet, providing a milder alternative for your dog or cat, while still delivering an effective, long-term effect.
Lyme disease and early summer meningoencephalitis can be transmitted by ticks not only to humans but also to dogs, cats, horses, and other animals. However, the probability of transmitting the pathogens of anaplasmosis and babesiosis is higher. Nonetheless, all tick-borne diseases can result in severe symptoms.
It appears that cats are mostly resistant to Borrelia and TBE viruses. As for dogs, there is a vaccine against the pathogens responsible for Lyme disease, but not every veterinarian recommends it without reservation. It is crucial to carefully consider whether the vaccination is beneficial for the specific animal. Moreover, the so-called tick vaccination does not provide protection against TBE viruses.
Detecting pathogens in dogs is best achieved through a blood test. If Lyme disease is suspected, special Lyme disease rapid tests can reliably detect the pathogen's antibodies at an early stage. However, these antibodies only appear two to six weeks after infection, necessitating periodic rapid tests. Alternatively, direct evidence can be obtained by examining the tick for borreliosis bacteria. The NADAL® Borreliosis Ag Test offers quick and dependable results, allowing for the prompt initiation of preventive antibiotic therapy in affected animals.