Beware the itchies! It is flea and tick season and they are predicting a really bad one this year. I have said this over and over again to potential adopters: it is easier to prevent than it is to treat.
Ticks: Everyone knows what ticks are. They are gross and nasty little pests. Ugh. They give me the heebee jeebees. I once stepped in a nest of deer ticks and didn't notice until an hour later when my leg was itchy and I saw 70 red dots moving up my legs. I was really lucky that I wasn't bitten. Ticks transmit Lyme Disease to both dogs and humans alike. It is really important to always check your dog for ticks if you have been in a field or wooded area.
Fleas: I think I hate fleas more than I hate ticks. At least with a tick, you can remove it and that is that. Fleas, on the other hand, infest and they are so hard to kill. Flea bombs do not always work. Once they are in your house, they get into the carpet, the cloth of couches and beds, in your clothing, everywhere. You generally have to spray again once the eggs hatch. There was one time when our neighborhood did not spray the outside for pests and there was a flea outbreak. Even with the aid of Frontline, she managed to get covered. She lost so much of her fur and had a nasty yeast infection on her chin that caused small, open sores. It was a constant battle for a month before we were able to get all the fleas out. The thing that saved me was the fact I had hardwood floors. Poor Abby still has scarring on her chin from that.
Heartworm: This is probably more important than fleas and ticks. It is the easiest to prevent but costly to treat. Heartworm, also called dog heartworm, is a parasitic roundworm that is spread from host to host through the bites of mosquitoes. If you live in an area that has a mosquito problem, you need to make sure you properly protect your dog. Since you cannot tell if a mosquito is infected, there is no way to know if your dog is infected until it is too late. That is why prevention is important. It takes about seven months, once a dog is bitten by an infected mosquito, for the larvae to mature into adult heartworms. They then lodge in the heart, lungs, and surrounding blood vessels and begin reproducing. Adult worms can grow up to 12 inches in length, can live 5-7 years, and a dog can have as many as 250 worms in its system. Treatment is lengthy, expensive, and poses a seriously threat to your dog's health and life. The preventative in incredibly easy. One chewable pill once a month. That's it.
For fleas and ticks I use Frontline Plus. You can get this at your vet. They are now found at Petsmart and Petco. One application once a month.
For heartworm I use Heartguard. Abby likes the flavor. It is a prescription from your vet. There are others out there. Talk to your vet about which one may be right for your pet.
As I said, it is easier to prevent than it is to treat.