Ticks are small spider like insects that live from the blood of their host. They can live on dogs and cats but also on snakes and birds.
How does my pet get a tick?
Ticks live in shrubs and bushes and drop themselves onto your pet, they than attach onto the skin and to draw blood.
What ticks do we see in the Netherlands?
Our cats and dogs can be caries of the following ticks in the Netherlands
- Ixodes ricinus tick
This is the most common tick in the Netherlands. It can transmit lyme disease.
- Riphicephalus sanguines tick
This tick is also called the dog tick, because it is very host specific and therefore usually only is found on dogs. The tick is originally from Africa, but has been spread with the dig to al warmer countries. It can be brought to the Netherlands by dogs traveling from the Mediterranean area. In the home environment the tick can survive and continue its life cycle. It can be carrier of the dangerous Ehrlichia and Babesia blood parasites.
- Dermacentor reticularis tick. This tick originally only lived in southern European countries, but has now also started to live in northern Eurpope including the Netherlands. In dogs this tick can transmit the Babesia blood parasite. Dogs that do not travel to southern Europe but stay in the Netherlands can therefore also be infected with Babesia.
What do ticks do?
Ticks drop from shrubs and bushes onto your pet and attach to the skin. They bite through the skin to obtain a blood meal. During this process they leave some saliva in the wound this prevents the blood from clotting. These small wounds the ticks leave behind can be an entrance port for bacteria and this may lead to a local infection of the skin. Ticks that are not removed completely can also cause inflammation. During the biting process ticks can transmit disease that they carry with them, like lyme disease, babesiosis and ehrlichiosis. If your pet is infected with many ticks at the same time this may also cause anaemia, because they all draw small amounts of blood from your pet.
How do I remove a tick from my pet?
You can best remove ticks with a special tick tweezers. You but it as closely to the skin as possible around the tick, you can then turn in 360 degrees twice and then gently pull the tick out of the skin. You have removed the whole tick when you can see its little legs move!
How do you prevent your pet getting ticks?
In the Netherlands ticks are mostly active from march until November. They live in mainly shrubby areas like the forest, dunes and parks. Check your dog for ticks daily. It takes at least 20 hours after a tick has attached before it can transmit disease, so checking your pet on a daily basis can prevent them causing illness. In the period that ticks are most active you can also use a Scalibor protector collar for your dog. Your dog is not a loud to swim for a few days after placing the collar but after that initial period swimming is no problem. It starts to be fully effective after about two weeks of putting it on, and works for half a year. For cats that get a lot of ticks we advise Frontline spot on drops.
Are ticks dangerous for humans?
People can also be bitten bij ticks, and for us it is also important to remove the ticks as soon as possible.
Babesiosis in The Netherlands
In 2004 there were some cases of Babesiosis in Arnhem and in The Hague. The ill dogs had not been abroad. Up till now we believe that carrier of the disease the, dermacentor tick, only lives south of The Netherlands. If this tick can also survive in The Netherlands, or if they might have accidentally travelled with a dog who had been abroud is unclear. There has been reports of this tick in 2005, so perhaps it is now indigenous here.
The Babesiosis parasite comes into the blood circulation of your dog through the saliva of the tick. The tick has to be attached for at least 20 hours before it can transfer the Babesia parasite through its saliva. The Babesia parasite multiplies in the host red blood cells, thereby destroying them. Signs of the disease are general lethargy and red coloured urine. These signs are seen about two weeks after infection with the parasite. If you see these signs in your dog, contact a veterinarian as soon as possible. The sooner we catch the illness, the more chances we have in treating it successfully.