Treat for Ticks
If you're in the Northeast, ticks and Lyme disease present one of your largest problems. Most cases occur in May through August, though warm weather can extend the tick season. Prevention is your best guard against tick-born diseases. "Be up-to-date on your flea and tick treatment, check your dog for ticks afterwards and remove any promptly," she says. O'Sullivan adds that as many as 90 percent of dogs that get Lyme are asymptomatic.
In the West, dog owners should be on the lookout for ticks carrying Rocky Mountain spotted fever (although it is possible for ticks in the east to carry this too). There is no vaccine for Rocky Mountain spotted fever, though antibiotics can be used fairly successfully to treat it. Signs include lethargy, swelling of the lymph nodes, loss of appetite and even heart arrhythmias. If left untreated, dogs can die from the disease.
The South has the lone star tick (found mostly in the south but occasionally reported as far north as Maine) can spread the Ehrlichia bacteria, which infect dog's white blood cells. Usually Ehrlichia infections won't kill a dog, but it can make them lethargic, and cause loss of appetite and weight loss.
If you have a longhaired dog, a flea comb is crucial for helping to reveal ticks. O'Sullivan says to pay special attention to anywhere there are creases of skin — behind and under your dog's ears, for example. Should you find a tick, gently pull it out, making sure the head is removed along with the body.