With spring finally upon us, many of us will be looking to get outside and enjoy the countryside after a very wet winter.

And the same is true for our pets, who will be ready to soak up the sunshine and warm weather 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.

Dr Hannah Godfrey, vet at Petsure, warned: “You can recognise a tick by their oval-shaped bodies, and spider-like legs. They’re usually very small, less than one centimetre long, and can vary in colour but are often brown or white.

"Ticks bury their mouthparts deep into the skin of both animals and humans while they feed, then drop off when they’re full. When they’re done feeding, they become a dark grey/brown colour and are much larger in size.

The Bolton News: It’s good practice to do a tick check anytime your dog returns from outdoorsIt’s good practice to do a tick check anytime your dog returns from outdoors (Image: Getty/andriano_cz)

“Ticks are common in woodland and grassland and are most active throughout the spring and summer. Sadly, ticks can carry dangerous bacteria and parasites such as babesiosis, which can pass on to your pets. Babesiosis (the condition caused by the Babesia parasite) causes damage to the red blood cells and can lead to severe anaemia and even organ failure.

“One of the more common diseases transmitted by ticks in the UK is Lyme disease, which can lead to kidney failure in dogs. Early signs of Lyme disease include a lack of appetite, weight loss, and lethargy. Symptoms of Lyme disease can appear weeks or months after being bitten, at which point the disease could have spread throughout the body.

“Some tick bites can even cause paralysis in dogs. Symptoms of this usually appear three to nine days after the tick attaches itself. Paralysis typically starts with a loss of back leg coordination, followed by a change in breathing, vomiting or gagging, and a change or loss of bark.”

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.

Use tick control products

There are plenty of products out there that can help prevent tick bites. Look out for collars, sprays, and spot-on treatments, but be sure to only use products recommended by your vet.

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.