The No. 1 reason to protect your dog from ticks is his health. If your pup has a run-in with the wrong parasite, he's at risk for Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis and anaplasmosis. Different ticks can carry different diseases, so Newman needs protection that will keep him safe from all ticks.
Up north, down south and parts in between: just about every place in the U.S. has some variety of tick. There are more than 90 species of ticks in the U.S., many of which carry disease that can infect you and your pets. If you and Newman live in a place prone to ticks, even a short spell outside gives a blood sucker the opportunity to hitch a ride on him. In the best case scenario, your dog has a nasty parasite feeding off his blood; in the worst case, he can become quite sick. Keeping ticks away before they have the opportunity to latch onto him is the best course of action. Fortunately, there's a variety of tick protection for dogs.
If you can keep track of a monthly date, a monthly tick preventive may be your best bet. Spot-on treatments are available through your vet, a pet store or online, and are applied on Newman's skin, at the base of his neck or between his shoulder blades. This preventive works by spreading over your pup's body and depositing into his sweat glands, where the medication is released over several weeks. If Newman jumps in a pool, not to worry; the spot-on will keep working, even if he gets wet. A monthly tablet will do the job if you're not keen on the spot-on treatment. Depending on the product, oral preventives are effective at keeping a host of parasites, including heartworm and roundworm, away from your pup. Occasionally a dog will experience side effects, such as diarrhea and vomiting.
Perhaps Newman's a city dweller who rarely has the opportunity to get up close and personal with ticks. If that's the case, you may not want to give him a monthly preventive but take precautions after the fact. Shampoos and flea dips can be effective at killing ticks. Tick shampoos contain ingredients to kill the parasites on contact, but you'll need to leave the shampoo on Newman for at least 10 minutes. Tick dips use chemicals that you dilute in water then apply to your dog's fur. Dips aren't appropriate for dogs under 4 months old or pregnant or nursing dogs.
The thought of a tick collar is appealing because it's so easy -- simply put on a collar and guard your pup against parasites. However, most collars protect only Newman's head and neck; to be effective, a collar must make contact with his skin so the chemicals can be distributed onto his fur and skin. Powders and sprays are a cost-effective option and can last several months -- if your dog doesn't get wet. Avoid getting spray or powder in his eyes and mouth and beware of potential side effects of powders, including diarrhea, vomiting, shaking, decreased appetite, drooling and depression.
Keeping your yard trimmed gives ticks fewer places to live and reproduce. The local garden shop or pet store can recommend a treatment to use on your lawn to control ticks; however, be mindful of the chemicals and their effects on people and animals. When you and Newman spend time outside, make it a habit to check yourself and him for the presence of ticks. Your vet will be well-versed in the types of ticks in your area and can recommend a good preventive, as well as a treatment schedule -- depending on where you live, you may need year-round protection.
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