Ask the Pet Expert | Tick prevention

My dog gets a Lyme disease shot every year and takes Sentinel regularly, but I'm nervous about ticks. We look for them every time he's outside. I have never used Frontline or anything like it because I don't like the chemicals in the house. Is there anything else I can do to protect my dog from ticks?

Ticks are definitely a problem in our area. There is a hotbed area of Lyme disease and ticks in northern Baltimore county. Ticks have to be attached to your pet and feeding for a certain amount of time before they are able to transmit disease.

Remember, there are other concerning diseases that ticks can transmit aside from Lyme disease. So the best thing you can do is to be diligent about checking your pet over thoroughly on a daily basis for ticks. The once-monthly topical chemical products are safe and very effective for most pets. However, you must be very careful — some products that are safe for dogs are lethal for cats or may be toxic if your pet is immune-compromised. So always check with your veterinarian before administering any flea or tick preventative treatment to your pet.

If you do not feel comfortable applying a topical preventative, there are several alternatives to consider for tick protection. There is a newer oral preventative labeled for the American dog tick and for fleas.

There are also a few tick collars that can be effective for some pets for six to eight months.

The most important thing you can do is to discuss this with your veterinarian and decide the best combination of prevention based on your pet's lifestyle.

This week's expert is Dr. Meghan W. Johnston of Hunt Valley Animal Hospital. Send your question to

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