The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) predicts that 2017 will be the worst flea and tick season in years, due to a number of environmental factors. It’s important for dog and cat owners to keep an eye on their pets, since these tiny creatures could potentially harm our furry friends. Due to a fairly mild winter, the Northeast will experience a particularly bad tick season. 

Not only does this mean that more ticks will survive and reproduce, but the animals that ticks rely on for food sources like mice, deer, and other animals will be more available. Another reason 2017 promises to have a tick population increase is that there was a mice population surge in 2016. Felicia Keesing, an ecologist at Bard College, and Rick Ostfeld, an ecologist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, New York, have developed a way of predicting cases of Lyme disease in a given year by looking at the mice population of the previous year. The population of mice directly correlates to the number of Lyme cases because mice carry the disease, and ticks feed on the mice and spread it. The most well-known disease carried by ticks may be Lyme, which can infect dogs and humans. 

Most of the time a rash forms around the tick bite, but not always. Eventually, fever, headache, and lethargy appear followed by more serious symptoms like inability to move parts of the face, joint pains, heart palpitations, and memory problems. Lyme is spread by blacklegged ticks, also known as deer ticks, as well as western blacklegged ticks. 

Another well-known disease that is spread through ticks is Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Symptoms include headaches, lethargy, abdominal pain, and vomiting. It can be severe and fatal if it isn’t treated within a few days. The disease is spread by the American dog tick, the brown dog tick, and the Rocky Mountain wood tick. Those who live near wooded areas, especially those in the northeast and Great Lakes areas, as well as marshy areas near oceans and other bodies of water should be careful. 

Instances of Lyme disease have gone up in the past several years, and this year will likely be even worse. When your dog goes out or if you go for a walk, always check for ticks when they come back inside. 

Even though the Northeast is at a higher risk than the rest of the country, everyone across the United States should check themselves and their pets for ticks after spending time outdoors. For extra protection, arm your pets with a flea and tick treatment.