Vets in and around Lewes are taking part in a nationwide programme to research the risk blood-sucking ticks pose to dogs.
These ticks are feeding earlier in the year and for longer, putting dogs and their owners at risk.
Tick bites can transmit serious infections such as Lyme disease, a serious and debilitating illness that can cause long term health problems in dogs and people.
Now Lewes veterinary practices are taking action by joining naturalist and TV presenter Chris Packham and the University of Bristol in the Big Tick Project. This new nationwide initiative runs from spring through to autumn, tracking the rise of the tick population in the UK and finding out how many carry disease.
Dog owners can take their pets to participating practices in Lewes including Coastway Vet Group and Meridian Veterinary Practice for a tick check and advice about innovations in effective tick control. Any ticks found on dogs will be collected and sent to Bristol University laboratories to help advance the knowledge of tick-borne disease, benefiting both veterinary and human medicine.
Chris Packham feels the challenge of keeping dogs and people tick-free has never been greater: “Research highlighted by the Big Tick Project experts suggests ticks are a growing problem, especially in areas such as urban parkland, woodland or open country. While I find both ticks and fleas interesting creatures, I don’t want them on my dogs, in my house, or on me. I want the best advice and treatment available and I know I can get this by talking to my vet.”
By taking part, local vets will help the level of risk to dogs and people in Lewes and along the coast to be identified compared with the national average. The practices also aim to provide advice to local dog owners on effective tick control.
Ticks are hard to spot when small but can transmit infections as they feed off the blood of their host. Dog owners often see ticks when they have increased in size as a result of their blood meal but by then the damage may have been done.
Local practices are determined to do all they can to ensure pets are protected. As well as helping to keep them safe, participating in The Big Tick Project gives vets and dog owners a chance to contribute to building important knowledge of this damaging disease.
New advances and treatment mean there are a number of ways that vets can control ticks including the use of spot-ons, sprays, collars and oral chewable formulations which can last up to 12 weeks. That means there should be an easy and practical solution for every dog owner.
Owners wanting to take part in the Project with a tick check or find out more can visit www.bigtickproject.co.uk or contact Coastway Vet Group, 378 South Coast Road, Telscombe, BN10 7ET and 137-139 Malling Street, Lewes, BN7 2RB or Meridian Veterinary Practice, 11 Edith Avenue, Peacehaven, BN10 8JB.
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