Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Climate Change Is Prolonging Flea and Tick Season for Pets

Climate Change Is Prolonging Flea and Tick Season for Pets
As winters become milder, fleas stay active longer, while some ticks are heading north. bluecinema / Getty Images

Cat and dog owners dread seeing ticks or fleas on their furry friends. These parasites can spread disease and make pets itchy and miserable.

"It can be so bad that they cause lots of skin damage from their nails," says Brian Herrin, a veterinarian at Kansas State University. "They get secondary infections. They'll lose their hair. And overall, it's just a complete nuisance to the animal and the owners."

Herrin says that fleas like warm, humid weather, so pets are most likely to catch them between spring and fall. But flea infestations can happen in winter, too – especially as the climate changes.

As winters become milder, fleas stay active longer. And as conditions change, some species of ticks are expanding their ranges.

"Where I'm at in Kansas, our predominant tick is the Lone Star tick," Herrin says. "And in our area, it's a spring-summer type of tick. And so, as the temperatures change, as it becomes warmer, as we have shorter periods of cold, then its range is actually moving northward."

So Herrin recommends year-round flea and tick prevention, even if you live in the northern U.S.

"That's really the safest way," he says.

Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.

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