JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Many parts of the country, including Jacksonville, experienced milder temperatures this winter.
These warmer than average temperatures are causing an explosion in fleas and ticks, causing pets to be more susceptible to the little pests.
Channel 4 spoke with a veterinarian about what pet owners need to do to make sure their pet stays flea free.
After an unseasonably mild winter, fleas and ticks are showing up a lot earlier than usual this year, and if not properly protected, pets are at a higher risk of getting covered with the pests.
"This is definitely much, much worse than it was last year, pet owner Stephen Dare said. "We're having to double up on just what we're doing just to keep the fleas off the poor dogs."
Flea and tick medicine is usually given or applied to a pet once a month. But Medical Director Jennifer Broadhurst with the Jacksonville Humane Society, says with the biting bugs getting a head start, pet owners should be giving their pet their flea and tick treatment more often than usual.
"We're seeing them a lot earlier this year because we had such a mild winter and we think that we might see more than usual." Broadhurst said. "We are having a lot of animals with fleas and some pet owners are needing to apply the flea prevention every two to three months instead of every month."
Besides giving pets their regular flea and tick treatments, Broadhurst said pet owners need to also regularly check their pets for the pests.
"The best place to look for fleas is right at the base of the tail. If you just kind of push the fur backwards you can see fleas there typically, Broadhurst said. "You can see what's called flea dirt. It's little black specks on their coat."
Fleas can cause anemia as well as tape worms in pets and ticks carry multiple diseases. Broadhurst said preventing fleas is much easier than getting rid of them, so pet owners need to do as much as they can to keep them out of their home.
"Vacuuming regularly, washing your pet's bedding. Things like that help get the fleas out of your home," Broadhurst said. "You can also have regular pest control in your home or apartment."
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