What are ticks?
Ticks are external parasites that feed on host blood.
They are more common in dogs, but they can also parasite cats. The brown tick of the dogs (Rhipicephalus Sanguineus), the sheep tick (Ixodes Ricinus) and the marsh tick (Dermacentor Reticulatus) are the most common in Europe, With around 870 species worldwide being a growing problem due to climate change.
Ticks are normally active between early spring to late autumn in temperate climates, but in warmer climates they are active all year round. They may also be active in the winter, especially if the temperature stays above 7 °C. In Portugal the ticks are active throughout the year.
Ticks are small and can not fly or jump, just crawl. The adult ticks have four pairs of legs, and the tick larvae only have three pairs of legs. They can be seen with the naked eye when they are in adults, being more difficult to see if they are still only larvae.
- Injuries by the action of their mouthparts into the skin;
- Toxic effects caused by the neurotoxins present in the saliva of the ticks that can provoke the paralysis of the host;
- The ability to ingest large quantities of blood can lead to anemia and a general state of debilitation;
- Transmission of other diseases caused by protozoa, bacteria and viroses;
How to remove ticks?
1 – Use fine-tipped forceps or a specific tick removal device, grasp the tick’s head at the point of attachment and as close to the skin as possible;
2 – With a gentle circular motion, rotate until the tick is detached from the skin;
3 – After removing the tick, wash the affected area with warm water and a mild soap;
4 – Watch the area of the bite on the following days, if the wound does not improve / cure, it will be advisable to consult your veterinarian.