Familiarize yourself with the ticks living in your area. Know what they carry and how to recognize the symptoms. There are around 900 species of ticks, but only a small number of those carry disease. Among that group, some prefer areas forested with deciduous trees, while others thrive in areas devoid of trees. Some are prevalent in the Eastern United States, and others in the West. Some carry disease during any life cycle, while others do only as adults.
The most common vector-borne diseases affecting humans and pets are Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tularemia, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, relapsing fever, and Colorado tick fever. Lyme is far and away the most common tick-borne disease. Antibiotics cure Lyme when it is caught early, but it often becomes chronic and debilitating if it is diagnosed too late.
Most of these diseases cause flu-like symptoms, which can appear up to a few weeks after a bite. The rash or tell-tale ring around a bite doesn’t always appear, even if an infection has occurred. The only way to know with certainty that you or your dog has been infected is to check diligently for bites and to get tested regularly.