People are being warned to check their dogs after a major study found the number of pets carrying potentially dangerous ticks has doubled in a year.
Almost a third of dogs checked at random during visits to the vets were found to be carrying a tick, according to researchers at the University of Bristol.
In the biggest ever study of ticks in dogs across the UK, researchers also found that dogs are as likely to pick up ticks in urban areas as in rural parts.
Ticks carry a range of diseases, which include Lyme disease and potentially fatal canine babesiosis.
Lyme disease has the potential to cause serious health problems, such as meningitis and heart failure, while in the most serious cases it can be fatal.
Chris Packham, zoologist and broadcaster, checks his dogs regularly and has championed the project. He says the findings are "shocking".
Researchers also found that ticks are present across many parts of the UK.
The South West was among the highest risk areas, along with Scotland and East Anglia.
However, ticks can be as prevalent in urban areas as in rural areas, researchers said.
Professor Wall added that what experts are primary concerned with now are the diseases ticks carry.