Barking Blondes: Tick Bite Prevention Week, dog shampoo and stoned dogs
Our bulldog Matilda has been suffering from loose bowels this week, a direct result from devouring duck poo in Regents Park. She is a scavenger and once off the lead, out of sight, will vacuum up whatever her jowls come across. Remember the case last summer of the abandoned hash cakes in a bin in Hyde Park? When she was stoned for a day due to some picnicker’s complete irresponsibility.
Well it’s that time of year again when we are being pestered to bang home the message of the perils of walks with your dogs. In fact, today is the start of Tick Bite prevention week. What does that mean for dog owners? Be warned, if you go down to the woods today there are crafty little creatures waiting to ambush you or latch onto your dog as you brush past them.
These are ticks, small blood-sucking creatures that are active at this time of year and through the summer and may carry Lymes Disease. They are related to spiders and mites and prefer the moist outdoors and thrive in bracken, bushes and piles of leaves on the ground. As they are only the size of a pinhead and don’t hurt as they grab onto skin, they often go undetected on a dog for days.
As they feed from the dog and fill themselves with blood they become a pinky purple colour and more noticeable… but it’s at this stage that the chance of any infection being transmitted to your dog is at its highest. Ticks that may carry Lymes Disease are most common in the countryside, especially in woodlands and parks with deer, such as Richmond Park and Bushy Park.
Here in the UK, Lymes Disease is relatively uncommon although recent research suggests cases are on the up, with about 3,000 cases reported in people every year. However with the popularity of the Pet Passport Scheme and the easier travel across mainland Europe for pets and livestock that ticks carrying the disease have entered the UK. If left undiagnosed and untreated Lymes Disease is a very serious health risk. It’s a bacterial disease that mainly affects the musculo-skeletal system, resulting in obvious lameness, but it can also cause serious heart damage.
Prevention is the best advice – but how can we deter such determined blood suckers? Start off by inspecting your dog thoroughly post walk – ticks like easy access and are often found on the head, the tail, the muzzle, ears, eyes and in the ears. Regular walkers are well advised to carry a tick removal device with them – like a forked prong or sharp tweezers. The aim when removing a tick is to grip it firmly and pull upwards –removing the nasty offender in one motion. It is not advisable to burn the tick or twist it off as this can encourage the tick to regurgitate saliva into the bite wound, which spurts more of its poison into yours or the dog’s system. Once the offending tick is removed put plenty of antiseptic or tea tree oil on the bite site to minimise any subsequent infection.
There’s a number of pharmaceutical spot on treatments available for your dog. These are insecticides that flow into your dog’s blood stream and make the dog’s blood taste disgusting to the tick. Such treatments do have side effects for your dog, from skin irritation to neurological damage. Plus ticks are known to adapt to the taste and build longterm immunity to the insecticide. In other words, they don’t always work!. This is the same incidentally for fleas.
We are sticklers for natural remedies and there are natural shampoos, herbal powders dusted onto your dog’s coat or made a solution from essential oils and vegetable oil. Such remedies have no side effects and tackle nature with nature. From homeopathic treatments such as Lednum or topical treatments made from essential oils like cedarwood, eucalyptus, mint, lemon, lavender, rosemary and oregano. Vegetable oil contains sulphur which ticks also hate! Simply comb such a natural solution through the dogs coat twice a week to keep the pests at bay.
How many times have we banged on about how not to feed dogs processed food? Well dogs fed on a raw food diet are less prone to ticks or fleas as their blood tastes too healthy compared to those fed on processed foods. Similar solutions can be applied to people too – but be vigilant and check your dog and yourself for pin head ticks post walk. Top tip for people tuck your trousers into your socks and stop the critter crawling up your legs!
Oh and Lung Worm Week is just around the corner… proving life is never just “ A walk in the park”.Tagged in: Tick Bite prevention week
Latest from Independent journalists on Twitter