Ticks are obligate ectoparasites meaning they survive by living on a host animal, usually mammals, birds, and sometimes reptiles and amphibians. They survive by sucking blood meals from these animals. Ticks are small arachnids, and as such are more closely related to spiders than to insects. They are wingless and possess a single, oval body region that is relatively flat (except when engorged with the host’s blood) Larvae have only six legs while nymphs and adults have eight legs. They transmit a greater variety of infectious organisms than any other group of arthropods and are of great public health and veterinary importance.
Do we have ticks in Ireland?
There are many different varieties of ticks found worldwide which are split into the broad categories of hard and soft tick. Only one species is common to Ireland, the hard tick Ixodes ricinus.
Where are they Found?
Hard ticks are found in habitats that are populated by potential hosts, mainly mammals and birds. Some of the most productive habitats are rough grasslands, moist woodlands and areas of vegetation around the edge of forests, along forest trails where there is a warm moist habitat to harbour the developmental stages of the tick. There is a seasonal risk period for exposure from April to October.
Clinical Signs of Tick Infestation of your Dog
When ticks bite, they can cause a range of signs including:
- A mild skin irritation
- Itching and biting of skin
- Hair loss
- Very heavy infestations in young animals can result in excessive blood loss causing an ultimate anaemia and occasionally death.
But it is important to note that many dogs that harbour ticks may not display any signs at all!
It is also possible for ticks to pass the pathogen Borrelia burgdorferi – the cause of Lyme Disease to both animals and humans.
What Can I do to Protect My Dog Against Ticks?
We recommend using tick protection medications for dogs who frequent habitats where ticks are frequently found especially during the months of April to October. You can ask any of our veterinarians about the different treatments we have available at our clinics.