It's very important to talk about flea and tick prevention, especially out east where we have so many ticks. Dogs can be exposed to these perilous critters up in our own backyards, walking on the streets, on beaches and in parks. We've been pretty successful with prevention as long as dogs are taking the medications they need and are being checked frequently. (As always, with dogs and humans, checks should be done regularly, especially after spending time outdoors).

First of all, if your dog is “outdoorsy” I strongly recommend a Lyme vaccination, with an annual booster. This summer, because fleas and ticks have been especially aggressive, we are also using oral medication that help prevent their ability to attach to our dogs. The medications I usually recommend are either Next Guard, a monthly pill, or Bravecto, which is administered once every three months. Regardless of brand, it’s imperative to have your dog on one of these products. It's also important in the protection of the entire family—especially in lusher, east coast areas—to have your property treated. We used to recommend the organic sprays which, of course, we favored over the the regular chemical sprays, but with the uptick (no pun intended) of tick disease in animals out east, I have to tell you that I actually recommend the chemical sprays more frequently than the organic ones. I simply don't think the organic ones work as well.

With regard to checks, it’s very tricky unless you have a short haired, light color dog. And even with these, it's extremely hard to spot ticks on them. Just know that ticks make a bee line for the dark, warm places of a body, which is to say they’re going to go in the ears, around the eyes, nose and lips, in the armpits and genitals, and in the paw pads and nail beds. They can be as tiny as poppy seeds and there can be several, so if you don’t feel confident doing this yourself and/or the ticks have been embedded in more sensitive areas like ears and eyes, I recommend taking them to a groomer or vet to have a thorough check and removal performed.

We've started doing blood tests at the end of every summer month, screening not only for lyme disease but also for ehrlichiosis and anaplasmosis.

When your dogs are being bathed, it’s a good idea to use conditioner. The PRIDE+GROOM shampoos and THE FINAL COAT conditioner are especially conducive to tick checks because they keep the hair and fur silky and detangled making the search incrementally easier.

While fleas don’t transmit Lyme disease they can cause a terrible allergic reaction called flea allergy dermatitis, which can become very painful and itchy for the dog. Fleas move around quickly and tend to jump and get lost easily on the body.They leave behind flea excrement, which we call flea dirt, which is looks like pepper. If you're not sure if you’re finding flea dirt regular dirt, you can take it you can do a test by pressing the black bits onto a wet paper towel—if you can see some brown or red “bleeding” then what you’ve found is flea excrement and you should speak to a professional about sterilizing the house from possible flea eggs.

As for as ongoing treatment and prevention. we've had a lot of success with the monthly products, which I do recommend. Some may be accustomed to the topical products like Frontline and Advantage but we’ve found in recent years that the those products take longer to kill fleas and ticks (up to 24 hours) as compared to the newer products which take less than 12 hours.