Vet’s advice

Sporting Gun - - GUNDOG HEALTH -

You’ve got two yeses! A num­ber of stud­ies have shown that ticks are thriv­ing and mov­ing into new ar­eas. Since they need heat and hu­mid­ity to be suc­cess­ful, climate change is in­volved but there are many other fac­tors, in­clud­ing changes to habi­tat (town plan­ners bring­ing “green” cor­ri­dors into cities), in­creas­ing abun­dance of hosts (par­tic­u­larly deer) and the in­creased move­ment of peo­ple and an­i­mals (as we take to the hills with our dogs). Add to that re­cent cases of ex­otic dis­eases hith­erto not seen in the UK and we should all be con­cerned.

The cy­cle:

Ticks are glob­ally im­por­tant arthro­pod trans­mit­ters of dis­ease. All have sim­i­lar life­cy­cles. Adult fe­males feed on large mam­mals, such as sheep, deer, hu­mans and dogs, then drop off, lay a few thou­sand eggs and die. Lar­vae hatch and feed on in­sects, birds and small ro­dents be­fore moult­ing into nymphs. These “quest” by climb­ing up twigs or grass, wait­ing for small mam­mals to pass. If the air dries, they have to re­turn to the moist soil to avoid de­hy­dra­tion. Once they feed, the nymphs be­come adults. The whole process takes one to six years.

The cul­prits:

A re­cent sur­vey car­ried out by Bris­tol Univer­sity, with the par­tic­i­pa­tion of 1,094 ve­teri­nary prac­tices in­volv­ing 12,096 dogs, pro­duced 6,555 ticks, of which 5,915 could be iden­ti­fied. The top ticks were:

Ix­odes rici­nus (the cas­tor bean, sheep or deer tick) 89 per cent. This guy is in­creas­ing and prob­a­bly ac­counts for the three fold in­crease in Lyme Dis­ease in hu­mans over the last decade. Dogs look out!

Ix­odes hexagonus (hedge­hog tick)

9.8 per cent.

Ix­odes can­isuga (dog tick) 0.8 per cent. •

Der­man­cen­tor retic­u­latis (or­nate cow tick) found on 10 dogs. Orig­i­nally con­fined to Wales, this tick is spread­ing and is ca­pa­ble of car­ry­ing babesio­sis.

Rhipi­cephalus san­guineus (brown dog tick) found on 13 dogs, all of whom had re­cently trav­elled to Europe. This is of grave con­cern be­cause this tick car­ries “ex­otic” dis­eases such as babesio­sis and ehrli­chio­sis. Adults can sur­vive without tak­ing a blood meal for up to 500 days. It is not wel­come here!

The con­se­quences:

Across the world, ticks carry an ex­ten­sive range of vi­ral, bac­te­rial and pro­to­zoan pathogens. In the UK, the ones to worry about are:

Non-spe­cific in­fec­tions caused by a va­ri­ety of bac­te­ria can oc­cur at tick bites. In my ex­pe­ri­ence, the mis­guided at­tempts of an­i­mal or owner to in­ad­e­quately or clum­sily re­move ticks is more likely to re­sult in in­fec­tions. •

Caused by a spirochaete bac­terium, Bor­re­lia Burgd­oferi (dis­cov­ered by Wil­liam Burgdor­fer in 1981; surely a man des­tined to name

Tick ab­scess/sep­ti­caemia:

Lyme Dis­ease:


These are the best tools to use for tick re­moval

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