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Published: Feb 28, 2012

Insects such as fleas and ticks may present a bigger problem this spring than in years past due to mild winter weather, according to one Florida veterinarian. Don Palermo, a vet in Palm Springs, told The Sun Herald that his practice is already beginning to see a rise in pets with fleas and ticks.

However, the Clarion Ledger reports that Palermo's observations are not necessarily indicative of seasonal activity levels. Jeffrey Brown, a Mississippi State Department of Health entomologist, told the news source that predicting the immensity of seasonal insect populations is pretty much impossible. Pet owners may want to take precautions against the possibility that Dr. Palermo is correct.

Prevention is the best defense against flea infestations, but pet owners should also be able to recognize signs of fleas on their pets. VCA Animal Hospitals reports that sometimes a pet owner can find physical evidence of the actual flea or the flea “dirt” which is dry crusty black flakes on dogs or cats.  However pets may only exhibit subtle clinical signs—such as biting or scratching—that can lead to hot spots and other skin infections. Fleas can also carry parasites like tapeworms or cause cat illness like anemia.

There are many different options for the prevention and treatment of fleas. Pet owners should speak with their veterinarians to determine the best course of action for their particular situation.