Bite season and the risk of disease
As the weather warms up, my local park starts to let areas of long grass grow, which is great for bees, butterflies and other insects, but not so wonderful for those of us who worry about ticks! Especially those of us with a dog who loves to run around through the long grass. Before I had a dog, I was not aware that ticks could live in a park in Greater London. However, after finding two ticks attached to her this time last year, I am now vigilant in checking for them.
It is also vital that pet owners are aware of the importance of flea and tick treatment – I changed brands after finding the ticks and hopefully that will help this year. Veterinary nurses can play a key role in encouraging owners to treat and check their pets, especially if they are aware of a local tick problem.
Ticks are small, spider-like creatures that feed on the blood of birds and mammals. Ticks in the UK have been found to carry Lyme disease, anaplasmosis and babesiosis. The latest research in England suggests that on average, around 4% of ticks may be infected with the bacteria that can cause Lyme disease, but this can vary by location (UK Health Security Agency, 2023). Lyme disease is a significant risk to owners' health but also to pets. Dogs may be asymptomatic, but those with symptoms may have limping, swollen joints, lethargy, fever and even kidney damage.