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Salford student finds pets at risk of tick bites even in winter months

Monday 6 February 2017

It is commonly thought that ticks are a problem for dogs during the warmer months, when they are the most active in the UK.

However a new study conducted at the University of Salford has discovered that ticks are present all year round on dogs, even in the coldest months.

The study, which began in 2014, is being led by post-graduate student Jessica Hall.

Jessica said: “From the data we have collected in this longitudinal study we have identified questing ticks all year round at some sites and have shown that this pattern of questing activity results in pets being bitten by ticks even during the winter months.

“The new findings reinforce the importance of dog owners treating dogs all year round, to help reduce the risk tick-borne diseases in dogs”.

The study involved nine veterinary practices, and tick activity was monitored across three woodland sites in Southern Cumbria.

Ticks can be found in any location that has the right conditions. They locate themselves on blades of grass and other vegetation and ‘quest’ – which means they stretch out their limbs to try and latch on to a passing animal.

If a dog is bitten by a tick it can lead to disease in dogs such as Lyme disease, which can cause serious difficulties to the dogs that can be difficult to treat. Symptoms of Lyme disease include high temperature, sore joints and loss of appetite.

Jessica’s findings come soon after recent analysis of veterinary practice electronic health records, which showed the presence of ticks on pets in all weeks between December and March. Jessica’s study is the first time that the presence of ticks has been analysed all year round.

Photo by: Andrea Gbobaniyi

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Victoria Barker

0161 295 4779