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Help your dog fight off ticks
Stephen Simpson/Getty Images

Where there are ticks, there is disease. This summer, tick populations are exploding — and they are expanding their range, too. Lyme disease, which is spread by ticks, primarily occurred in dogs in New England, but now the species that cause it are as far west as California, in the upper Midwest and even Alaska.

According to veterinary parasitologist Michael Dryden of Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine, the first step is to ensure thereís no existing tick disease with a four-way blood test (for Lyme and two other tick diseases, as well as heartworm). The Companion Animal Parasite Council says one of every 15 dogs test positive for Lyme.

Look into the Lyme vaccine for your dog (no vaccine is available for people yet), and talk to your vet. Not all over-the-counter products will protect your pet, Dryden says, and the wrong ones waste money and put your pet at risk for a debilitating disease. Visit for more info.

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Contributing editor Steve Dale is a certified dog and cat behavior consultant. He writes a twice-weekly syndicated newspaper column and is the host of two syndicated radio shows. Most recently he is the author of two e-books that answer common (and some not-so-common) pet-behavior problems, Good Dog! and Good Cat! (available wherever e-books are sold).