P.E.I.'s warm weather means early start for fleas, ticks

After last year's winter, many Islanders are welcoming the warm weather. But for their pets, it could be a different story.

Veterinarian Dr. Claudia Lister says the sooner you can check your pets in these warm conditions, the better

Veterinarian Dr. Claudia Lister says if the warm weather keeps up, she expects to start animals on flea prevention medications a month earlier than usual. (Stephanie Kelly/CBC)

Islanders may be welcoming the warm weather, anxiously anticipating the start of an early spring, but pets may not be so eager to see the end of snow.

The warm weather and green grass means fleas and ticks will be on their way earlier than usual.

"As soon as the snow goes and the temperature's above zero ... then those parasites can indeed wake up, if you will, and pose a problem," said veterinarian Dr. Claudia Lister.

Lister says in a typical year, vets typically start to see an animal on a flea preventative by the end of April or the beginning of May. 

"This year, if the weather continues to be like this, I probably would be inclined to push that up by a whole month," she said.

Pet stores preparing

At Blue Ribbon Pet Supply in Charlottetown, staff say they have already heard talk of fleas.

"People are taking them out on trails more, so they're going in areas where the fleas are more active, where they can pick them up a lot easier, especially ticks," said Colin Scales. "I think it's going to be a little bit worse of a year than last year."

Staff at the pet store say they've ordered more treatment lotions and shampoos to keep up with demand.

Lister advises owners to keep an extra eye on their pets this season.

"If they do see any scratching, then they definitely should be checking, and they should be checking all of their pets," she said. "Not just the pets that go outdoors."

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