Living in the South with your dog presents some challenges in terms of disease and safety issues.

It means you must give your dog heartworm pills each and every month, even if they are indoor dogs. If pills don’t suit you, there are also injections that can be given less often during the year.

It only takes one mosquito to give this disease to your dog and it is expensive ($600 to $800) to treat, time consuming (several months) and hard on the dog (no activity or play during the treatment period) and the medication is basically poison.

The pill costs only about $10 to $12 a month and the shots are also reasonable, given how long they last. Your dog needs a blood test every year.

Flea and tick monthly treatments are just that, monthly. There is no off season. Ticks can be found anywhere there is pine straw. Well, in the Lowcountry, that is pretty much everywhere.

Ticks are more than just nasty; they are disease producing, causing ehrlichia, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Lyme disease and more. If untreated, these diseases can cause death, lameness and more. Humans also can get those diseases from being bitten by ticks.

Prevention for ticks and fleas come in a variety of forms, including drops for your dog’s back, collars and chewable pills. Most don’t require a prescription but some might. Dogs can have bad reactions to some treatments so you might have to try different forms of prevention.

Fleas are everywhere, period. Not only can they give your dog tapeworm but they can infest your home. Make sure you not only treat your dog but also the outside environment, or it will become a cycle of infestation that never ends.

Shampoos can kill the existing fleas, and pills such as Capstar can also kill them immediately, but neither replaces the need for continuous prevention.

We live with all these bad little babies here in the South, but that doesn’t mean your dog has to.

Abby Bird is owner of Alpha Dog Obedience Training.