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Keywords:

  • Dermacentor reticulatus;
  • Ixodes canisuga;
  • Ixodes hexagonus;
  • Ixodes ricinus;
  • dogs;
  • tick;
  • Great Britain

Current concerns over the potential impacts of climate change and the increased movement between countries of people and companion animals on the distribution of ectoparasites, highlight the need for accurate understanding of existing prevalence patterns. Without these future changes will not be detected. Here, the distribution and prevalence of tick infestations of domestic dogs in Great Britain were examined. A total of 173 veterinary practices were recruited to monitor tick attachment to dogs in their local areas between March and October 2009. Practices selected five dogs at random each week from those brought to the surgery and undertook a thorough, standardized examination for ticks. Each veterinary practice participated for 3 months before being replaced. Any ticks identified were collected and a sample sent to the investigators for identification, along with a clinical history of the dog. A total of 3534 dogs were examined; 810 dogs were found to be carrying at least one tick. Ixodes ricinus (Linnaeus) (Acari: Ixodidae) was identified in 72.1% of cases, Ixodes hexagonus Leach in 21.7% and Ixodes canisuga Johnston in 5.6% of cases. Five samples of Dermacentor reticulatus (Fabricius) (Acari: Ixodidae) were also found, adding to the growing evidence that an established population of D. reticulatus now exists in south-eastern England. Almost all the ticks found were adults. Overall, 19.2% of the veterinary practices reported no tick detections, 50% reported that ≥14.9% of the dogs seen were infested and 14.6% reported that >50% of the dogs inspected carried ticks. The estimated incidence of tick attachment was 0.013 per day in March (lowest) and 0.096 per day in June (highest). A number of risk factors affected the likelihood of tick attachment on dogs. Gundog, terrier and pastoral breed groups were more likely to carry ticks, as were non-neutered dogs. Dogs with shorter hair were less likely to have ticks, and dogs were most likely to carry a tick in June. This study is of value because, unusually, it presents the results of a randomized sample of dogs and gives a prevalence which is higher than those previously recorded in Great Britain.