AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - Local veterinarians believe the early warm weather will cause flea and tick season to start early this year.
Typically the season begins in May, but this year it's estimated to start in March. That mean it's time for pet owners to take preventative measures to keep their pets safe.
"It's easier to get ahead of a problem than it is to catch up with a problem," Pearson said. "I always recommend that you do heartworm because we have too many of these springs where we have mosquitoes out early or we have a late fall and mosquitoes are flying later than people expect. Flea and ticks [medication], yeah we need to get rolling too."
Pets bitten by fleas or ticks can get skin damage and contract diseases like Ehrlichia and Lyme disease, and symptoms can take years to surface.
"It could be a tick that they were exposed to months or even a year ago before that disease starts showing itself," said veterinarian Laveta Bryan of the Animal Medical Center.
Pet owners need to be wear of mosquitoes as well because they cause heartworms.
"Heartworms are nasty," Pearson said. "They're easy to prevent, they're a pain to kill. If you get adult heartworms in your dogs, you're talking shots of an arsenic compound in the muscles in the back and 30 days of cage rest to try and keep the dog from dying. I much prefer to prevent those than to treat those."
Veterinarians also urge people to treat their homes and yards against fleas and ticks.
"95% of the fleas in the world are not on the dogs and cats, they are actually in the environment," Pearson said. "They're in your house or they're in your yard, so you need to not only treat the pet but you also need to treat the house. You also need to get your professionals to treat the yard."
If pet owners take their animals out in the warm weeks ahead, veterinarians suggest checking them for fleas and ticks. They say pay extra attention to the tail, head, and rump areas because that is where fleas and ticks like to hide. You can also spray pets with a flea and tick preventative just to be safe.
Bryan said pets that are taken out in warm weather also need to be properly hydrated and have paw protection.
"They can burn all their pads," Bryan said. "So you just have to be conscious of that, especially if you have a weekend warrior dog who lives the plush life at home all week on the carpet in the grass, and then you take them out for a weekend camping and their pads may not be toughened up to that."