Pet owners can expect more fleas, ticks due to mild winter

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COLUMBIA - The weather is beginning to be consistently warm and, although that may be a good sign for many, for pets, it could possibly mean more fleas and ticks. 

The mild winter and warm spring brought ticks and fleas out much earlier than usual. 

Dr. Greg Chapman, of Noah's Ark Animal Hospital and Bird Clinic, said this time of year is called the "breeding season" for ticks.

Generally, ticks wait for a host on bushes or shrubs. 

"Once it warms up, there's a lot of greenery and the animals are moving," Chapman said. "Their food source is out and they try to reproduce which makes more ticks."

Chapman said he has not seen many animals come in for fleas/ticks, but has seen pet owners come in who had ticks on them.

"Dogs and cats have the fortunate ability to put something on them that helps repel those bugs, but we do not," Chapman said. 

He said pet owners should make sure to check for ticks after being outside in wooded areas.

Jennifer Huff and her mother have experienced tick problems in the past. It did not come as a surprise to them that this time of year is prime tick season.

"They cling onto leaves and stuff so they can easily attach. It makes sense to me because I used to live out in the country and we would let our dogs off the leash a lot and we'd find ticks all the time," Huff said.

Huff said the times they found ticks on themselves, they would simply pick it off, flush it down the toilet and treat the spots on their skin with alcohol.

Chapman said the tick/flea problem can be easily treatable for pets by simply giving them preventative medicine.