Pet owners, beware. That warm and soggy winter has set us up for disaster. 

Because of the intense El Niño, veterinarians are sounding the alarm that we will see a surge of ticks and fleas come this summer.

ALERT: Nightmarish Tick and Flea Season Ahead

Sergey Granev from Getty Images
Sergey Granev from Getty Images

The warmer-than-average temperatures and extra moist conditions served as a perfect breeding ground for bloodsuckers. The unusual weather will boost vegetation and we will likely see intense growth farther into spring.

This means plant-eating animals like white-tailed deer and rabbits will enjoy an over-abundance of food this season, which means they are going to reproduce like mad.

Prey animals tend to be a tick and flea's buffet and ride of choice. With even more of them expected to be born, that means parasites will also reproduce at larger numbers.

Not only that, ticks and fleas were able to remain active during the warmer-than-average winter, so their breeding cycles didn't get interrupted.

Read More: A "Pest-Pocalypse" Could Invade New York

If that wasn't bad enough, just know the warm temperatures also betrayed us in making our area more hospitable for tick species that are more commonly found in the South. These temperatures are making it easier for these southern ticks to expand their territory into our region.

This means your pet is at an increased risk of picking up an unwanted passenger, which puts their health on the line.

Pet owners are strongly urged to treat their animals against fleas and ticks to protect their health and overall comfort.

The Risk of Tick and Fleas

Close Up Of An Adult Female An Adult Male Nymph And Larva Tick Is Shown June 15 2001
Getty Images

Both fleas and ticks carry a wide-array of dangerous diseases and parasites.

Fleas infected with tapeworm can spread it to an animal that swallows them. When these fleas bite, a cat or dog may instantly lick or gnaw at the area, which may lead to accidental ingestion.

Fleas can also transmit typhus and the plague. They can also transmit cat scratch disease, according to the CDC.

Ticks also carry a variety of health threats. Depending on the tick species, they are capable of spreading Lyme disease, Babesiosis, Heartland virus, Powassan disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and more. You can read all about these illnesses on the CDC's website.

Preventing Ticks and Fleas

Science Photo Library
Science Photo Library

The best methods to protect your pet is using preventatives. Pets, especially those who venture outdoors, are strongly encouraged to be treated with flea and tick medicine like with Heartgard or NexGard chewables or Advantix drops.

Pets that have short hair can also wear a collar, like from Seresto, to help make them appear less attractive to these parasites.

Before bringing a pet back into the house, it's recommended to run a flea comb through their coat to make sure they didn't pick up any unwanted passengers.

If you suspect any on your pet, you can also bathe them with shampoo that can instantly kill ticks and fleas, says the American Kennel Club. Make sure the flea and tick treatment is safe for your pet beforehand.

Read More: If You See This Highly Invasive Insect in Central NY, Kill It Immediately

Pet owners should also vacuum regularly to make sure they suck up any "passengers" who might have fallen off your pet.

Additionally, keeping a manicured lawn is a strong tick deterrent method since these creatures prefer to hide in thick grass and low-hanging bushes.

While this is another option, not everyone can take advantage of this - buy Guinea hens. I grew up with a flock of 16 and I can testify these birds devoured all the ticks and fleas in our neighborhood. They were the most-effective pest control we had.

They are super noisy, but you get used to the cacophony once you realize you haven't pulled a tick off your pet - or yourself - in months.

That said, brace yourselves - it's going to be a super nasty tick and flea season.

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