Orchard Vet's Blog

Big Tick Project results published


The results of the Big Tick Project are in!

The study of ticks and tick-borne disease is the largest of its kind in the UK and has found that almost one-third of dogs (31%) checked at random were found to be carrying a tick. Researchers also discovered that the chances of urban pets picking up a tick is the same as those living in rural areas!

The research for the Big Tick Project was carried out by Bristol University. Almost 15,000 dogs were examined for ticks, at random, while visting their vets. Ticks from all over the country were sent for the researchers at Bristol to analyse.

Their findings indicate that ticks are extremely widespead and that they are increasing in numbers: by 17% in the last decade. The broad distribution of ticks has surprised researchers; they suspect it is partly a consequence of the recent warm, wet winters we have experienced. However, the evidence has challenged the idea that ticks are isolated to certain parts of the UK.

Compared with our European neighbours, UK ticks appear to carry fewer diseases (e.g. about 3% carry the bacteria which causes Lyme disease, Borrelia burgdorferi). Nevertheless, with a rise in tick numbers there is a good chance we will see increasing problems in the future - and ticks are capable of spreading diseases to humans as well as dogs.

Of particular concern are the transfer of Lyme disease and babesiosis. Around 3,000 cases of Lyme disease in humans are confirmed every year in England and Wales, 15% of which are contracted abroad. It is potentially fatal in both people and dogs. Babesiosis hit the headlines earlier in the year with an outbreak in Essex which killed two pets.

There are a variety of things you can do to prevent ticks biting your pet (or you!) including collars and sprays - contact us if you want advice on what is best. Be proactive in checking your pet for ticks - groom regularly and smoothe your dog all over after a walk, looking and feeling for ticks. If a tick is found it should be removed promptly with a tick hook to prevent infection. If in doubt, bring your pet in.

You can read more about the Big Tick Project and its findings at §