With warmer and sunnier weather arriving, many of us will be looking to get outside and enjoy the countryside after a wet and cold winter.

And the same is true for our pets, who will be ready to soak up the sunshine by our side.

But spending more time among nature means a heightened risk of tick bites, which can, in some cases, result in Lyme disease.

Ticks are small, parasitic spider-like creatures that feed on mammals' blood. As they’re active outdoors, primarily in grassy and woodland areas, they pose a particular threat to animals such as cats and dogs.

Worcester News:

If ticks go unnoticed and pets are untreated, a tick bite could lead to further complications, including Lyme disease.

Pet owners are being warned about how they treat their dogs after a tick bite, with veterinarian Lily Richards teaming up with TrustedHousesitters to explain why you shouldn’t buy over the counter treatments.

While many products online and in shops claim to prevent parasites, you should only trust products available or recommended by your vet, as some unlegislated products can be dangerous.

“Pet owners can protect their pets with parasite-prevention products available from their veterinary clinic”, Lily explains.

“Over-the-counter products are available but generally are less reliable and, in some cases, not controlled by medical legislation.

"Therefore, they do not have the backing of extensive research and testing that veterinary products have, making them potentially unsafe for purpose and ineffective.”

How to protect your dogs from ticks

Check pets after walks

It’s good practice to do a tick check anytime your dog returns from outdoors. Run your hands over their body, making sure to focus on areas like their head and ears, belly, and armpits. Try to feel for any small bumps on their skin.

Never use tick control intended for cats on dogs, and vice versa

Tick treatment for dogs include chemicals that can be lethal for cats, and a treatment intended for cats may also be harmful to your dog. Your vet will recommend the right treatment for your specific pet.

Cut back the grass in your garden

While ticks are more common in woodland areas, they can also be found in your garden. Make sure to keep the grass and vegetation in your garden cut short to avoid harbouring ticks.

What are ticks?

Ticks are tiny, spider-like creatures which feed on the blood of animals and humans, and are commonly found in woodland and moorland, particularly in areas with long grass.

They don't jump or fly, but will climb on to you if you brush against something they're on. The tick will then bite and attach to the skin, where they will feed on blood for several days before dropping off.

Ticks are most active between spring and autumn and are widespread across the UK, but the most high-risk areas include grassy and wooded areas in southern England and the Scottish Highlands.