Dog owners are being encouraged to be on the lookout for ticks, as insurance claims for illnesses related to the parasite in pets have risen by more than 60 per cent in recent years.
Pet insurer, Animal Friends, has issued the warning ahead of the summer period, when dog walkers start to get out more with their four-legged friends.
What is the risk?
Ticks are blood sucking parasites and are known to carry Lyme disease, and - more rarely - babesiosis, which can have serious effects on both pets, causing tiredness and lameness. It can also have similar effects on humans.
Ticks will rest on the tips of grasses and shrubs, waiting for a host. When a host brushes past, the tick will climb onto them and attach themselves quickly.
Animal Friends have released a video explaining how owners can treat ticks effectively to ensure that their dog is safe from disease.
What do ticks look like?
Ticks vary in shape, colour and size but they have a flattened oval shaped body before feeding and a plump, rounded body once fed.
When unfed, the creatures are the size of a sesame seed. They will then grow to the size of a coffee bean when engorged with their host’s blood.
Ticks are most active from March to October. As ticks are at risk of drying out, they prefer moist and humid environments and live in grass, bushes, shrubs and foliage.
What to do if you find a tick
If you find a tick on your dog’s (or even on your own) skin you should use fine-tipped tweezers or a tick-removal tool to remove it.
Grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible and slowly pull upwards, taking care not to squeeze or crush the tick.
Once you have removed the tick you need to clean the bite with antiseptic or soap and water.