Ticks on the increase!

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You may have seen the news headlines recently stating that nearly 1 in 3 dogs visiting vets last summer were found to be carrying at least one tick. This stat is taken from the results of a large research study undertaken last year called “The Big Tick Project”. Hope Vets contributed to this project and it may be that we sent in one of your very own dogs’ ticks!

So what are ticks and why should we care?
Pretty gross eh? This is a typical tick that we might find on dogs. They start off tiny and as they feed they get bigger and bigger. Because they numb the area of skin that they have attached to, the dog won’t necessarily bother at the area.
Ticks (quite apart from looking like foul alien invaders) are important because they can cause local skin reactions but much more importantly because they can transmit other diseases. Tick-borne disease is prevalent in the rest of Europe but up to now we have been less affected and the only disease an English tick was able to give you or your dog was Lymes disease (which can be really serious and difficult to treat). More recently ticks have been found in the UK carrying a parasite called Babesia which can give dogs severe anaemia.

Don’t panic…..
Well it isn’t all bad news. Although there is no question that ticks are an increasing problem in the UK, the good news is that they are visible and feel-able. If you check your dogs carefully after walks you will find them. More good news is that in our little corner of the world, although in the study we are rated 4/5 in terms of risk of ticks, Hope Vets patients still are only rarely effected by ticks. We don’t seem to have large populations of ticks in our immediate area but be warned, we have definitely seen more this year than previously and if the rest of the country is anything to go by, ticks are on the up.

What should we do to protect our dogs?
If you have seen ticks on your dogs previously or if you are travelling to areas with a high risk of ticks then we recommend adding tick control to your parasite regime. There are lots of products you can use. Some repel ticks and kill them and others just kill them. All the products we recommend for ticks kill them within 24 hours, this is important as the tick-borne diseases are only usually transmitted after the tick has been feeding more than 24 hours.
It is really important to check your dogs for ticks after a walk by feeling through all areas of their coat. You will feel a little lump which if you then look closely has a little mouth and legs. If you find a tick it is important not to pull them out. The mouthparts are corkscrew-like so you need to twist them anti-clockwise to ensure you don’t leave the head embedded in your dog’s skin. We stock little plastic tick twisters to help you, but if you are worried about doing it yourself we can remove the ticks for you.

If you would like more information:
Full access to the Big Tick Project research paper

Video on how to check your dog for ticks

Video on how to remove a tick from your dog
Tick photo


Neither you nor your rabbit ever want maggots!

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The warmer months can be a worrying time to care for our little (or big) bunnies. This is due to something called “flystrike”. It occurs when flies lay their eggs in the skin around wounds, sore skin or fur contaminated with wee and poo. When the eggs hatch they become larvae and – this next part is somewhat gruesome – start to eat away at the surrounding tissue. They literally can eat through the skin and into the deeper tissues, which very quickly (over 6-24 hours) can become life-threatening if not dealt with immediately.

There are a few things you can do to help prevent flystrike: keep your rabbits bum clean; check your rabbit’s skin (particularly around the bottom) twice daily; clean out the bedding regularly and remove all faeces; use an effective fly repellent product such as Rearguard.

If flystrike occurs or you are worried, please call us on 01442 833198, or the Emergency Out of Hours in Hemel Hempstead, Vets Now on 01442 768484.

rabbit in clean bedding bluebottle fly


Hot dogs in hot cars!

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During the summer it is easy to forget that our furrier friends are often as hot as we are, if not more so.
Here are a few tips to make sure your pet does not get too hot – especially when out travelling.

1 – If you are too hot or cold in your car, your dog probably is too.

2 – Take regular stops to allow your dog to go to the toilet and for a refreshing drink (just as you would yourself).

3 – Avoid leaving your pet inside the car without someone with them.

4 – Keep the windows slightly open so that your dog can get some fresh air while travelling.

If you spot a dog locked in a car, on a warm day, with no sign of the owner about, please tell someone about it (either a shop keeper, or the closest facility) so that they may make an announcement about it and alert the owner to the issue.

When it’s hot and the sun is shining, cars become something like greenhouses, and the temperature can rise very quickly. It is important that dogs at least have a fresh supply of air in the car and water at the very least, but it is best not to leave them in there at all.

If you’re popping by the practice, please take a thermometer, which also has some handy tips on the back about staying cool.

dog in sunglasses



Skin allergies starting in spring!

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Its all good fun, playing in the long grass on a summers day or running through the flowers. Until your dog starts scratching.

This can often be caused by antigens, or irritations in the environment. This can include anything from pollen to grass, from dust mites to flea bites.

Your pet may be showing signs such as hair loss, skin infections, ear or eye discharge.

The sooner it is treated, the easier it will be. Something as simple as changing the route you walk on to avoid a certain type of grass can help. Even a quick rinse off in the bath or hose down after a walk can reduce the effects just by removing the irritation, and soothing the skin.

Please speak to our receptionist to book an appointment with the vet if you think your pet may have skin allergies.

itchy dog showering dog