As I write, the weather has taken a decidedly autumnal feel. Hopefully, by the time you get to read this, the Bay will, once again, be bathed in glorious sunshine.

A vet removes a tick from a dog's skinA vet removes a tick from a dog's skin

As dog owners, we are truly blessed to live somewhere that offers so many opportunities for us to get outside with our four-legged companions.

However, as with all good things, there inevitably comes a downside…as I discovered last summer.

We took our little pack for a local woodland walk on a glorious July day. The dogs were diving in and out of the hedgerow, thoroughly enjoying themselves.

Several days later, I felt distinctly under the weather (with a raised temperature and feeling fatigued) and subsequently developed a tender feeling in the small of my back.

Lee Connor, Nature Notes and Dog Spot columnist for the Torbay WeeklyLee Connor, Nature Notes and Dog Spot columnist for the Torbay Weekly

When I looked in the mirror, I could see a circular red rash.

I thought no more of it, merely putting it down to a mosquito bite.

It was my mum who forced me to go to the doctors.

Reluctantly, I went and the nurse initially thought the same as me, putting the skin rash down to an insect bite, but, just to be sure she called in the advice of a colleague.

Immediately, on examining the bullseye-looking rash, that nurse shook her head and put me straight on strong antibiotics.

Thank God she did as I subsequently tested positive for Lyme disease!

So please, all dog owners, be tick aware.

Dogs can also get Lyme disease and they can carry the ticks, that can later attach to you.

To avoid this, keep your pets up to date with suitable tick treatments, ones that either repel the critters or kill them if they bite.

Your vet or local pet shop will be able to advise on the best treatments available.

Try wearing long trousers or tuck them into your socks when out enjoying the countryside.

Finally, if you develop a ‘bullseye-shaped’ red rash, please seek advice from your doctor as soon as possible.

Advice on safely removing ticks from your pet can be found on the RSPCA website.