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British pets falling prey to foreign ticks

Vets are warning that they are seeing an increasing number of dogs falling prey to unpleasant diseases spread by foreign ticks. More and more pooches are travelling on pet passports and then contracting terrible ailments.

Deadly Diseases caused by kennel ticks

The deadly tick-born Encephalitis has been identified as one of the most serious issues and can cause animals to die agonising deaths. The disease isn’t present in the UK but is picked up overseas. It can infect the brain causing terrible tremors and seizures and in some cases even death. The disease is carried by the Rhipicephalus sanguineus - also known as the brown dog tick or kennel tick.

The kennel tick appears to be particularly problematic in Spain, Cyprus, Romania and Bulgaria. Sand flies from southern Europe which carry Canine Leishmaniasis, a condition that causes lesions, weight loss and kidney failure, is another major issue. Other parasites infecting travelling British pets include heart worms which infect both dogs and cats as well as other animals. The worms cause damage to internal organs and other tissues and can prove to be fatal.

Huge increase in canine travel

Last year an incredible 287,000 dogs travelled abroad from the UK with their owners and one study found that 76 per cent of these dogs were carrying ticks when they returned home. There is a strong link between the number of pets travelling and the rise in the incidence of the diseases caused by ticks. The increase in the number of imported rescue dogs is also contributing to the problem.

Unfortunately, tick-borne pathogens can establish themselves in the UK tick population. This would have serious implications for both pets and people.

Protect you pet before travel

The European Scientific Council for Companion Animal Parasites (ESCCAP) UK & Ireland provides advice for pet owners and is encouraging people to use preventative tick products on their pets before, during and after travel. Newly imported rescue pets should be taken to a vet to treat and check for ticks.

Ticks which arrive in this country via our travelling pets can quickly infest our homes causing issues for pets long after their holiday is over, not to mention their owners.

The Pet Travel Scheme

The Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) allows pet owners in the UK to take their dogs and cats to other European countries and then return with them without need for quarantine. The system also enables pet dogs and cats to enter the UK without quarantine as long as they comply with the regulations. But in January 2012 compulsory tick treatment was removed from the PET travel scheme. Since then, travel has continued to increase every year.

Prior to 2012, there had been no recorded cases of kennel ticks in the UK but all that has changed. In 2012 there were two cases, rising to four in 2013, five in 2014, nine in 2015 and six up to May 2016. The first case of a home being infested by the ticks was recorded in 2015 and a second case was reported the same year. A total of 40 cases of kennel tick were reported between 2012 and 2016.

Pets can enjoy a wonderful holiday overseas but it is important to protect animals from ticks and it doesn’t cost the earth to do so.


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