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Warmer weather wakes up the parasites that live off our pets. Fleas have a shorter life cycle, they breed more quickly and so we see greater numbers of them. Ticks become more active and start seeking out new animals to feed on, which means checking your cats and dogs and instigating parasite control is even more important.

Sadly, ticks can carry diseases that can be passed onto our pets, so they can be more than just an unsightly or irritating problem. They can also carry diseases that can be passed to people, so any hangers mustn't get missed. A large survey of tick prevalence was carried out in 2016 and involved vets checking both cats and dogs for the presence of ticks when they visited the surgery for any reason. Surprisingly as many as one in three dogs checked was found to be carrying a tick, and ticks were seen commonly in both urban and rural environments. Cats were also found to be high carriers of ticks, particularly younger and active cats. The survey found that our area in East Anglia is particularly high risk for coming into contact with ticks.

When ticks bite through the skin to feed, they carry some of the normal bacteria that live on the skin into the body. This can lead to a small raised red lump called a granuloma, which will often form where the tick has fed. This usually resolves without treatment, but if it is irritating your pet or becoming oozy, ask a vet to check the area. If the tick is left attached to feed, it can then transmit diseases to your pet. Thankfully, if the tick is swiftly killed – either because your pet has been treated with a prescription product or the tick is removed manually – this transmission of disease can be halted.

Because ticks can be small, and our pets very hairy, it is hard to rely on spotting those ticks to remove them in time. So having a drug on board for prevention is important. There are both spot-on preparations, tablets, and collars that can be used – speak to your vet to discuss which products will work best for your pet and their lifestyles.

If you see a tick and want to remove it, you must be careful to completely remove all of the mouthparts and head. Tick hooks are inexpensive plastic hooks that can be kept for this purpose, by sliding these between the skin and the tick, and gently twisting, the tick can be safely removed.

Finally, if you are lucky enough to be traveling abroad with your pet this summer, be aware there are different types of ticks and diseases on the continent. www.esccap.org is a good website to show the different risks in different countries, and what can be done to keep your pets safe.