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Ticks emerging early due to mild winter

Pet owners on the defense after first deer tick found in metro
Pet owners on edge after first deer tick found in metro 02:35

MINNEAPOLIS — Another creature could already be lurking in your lawn and cause problems for your pet. The Metropolitan Mosquito Control District said they found their first deer tick of the year on Monday in Dakota County. 

It's quite early, but not unheard of, they said. While most people are still bundled up, dogs are more vulnerable to tick bites. 

At 15 years old, Hunter, a Golden Retriever, still goes to the dog park almost every day.

"He loves it. He loves the smells, he loves the dogs. This is his favorite spot to be," his owner Tom Manion said.

His fur is a favorite for ticks too. Manion says he's had to pull some off of him in years past, but not yet this year. 

"I check for them. It's a lot easier when his fur is shorter," Manion said.

Ticks are normally dormant in the winter, but our mild weather is starting to bring them out early. 

RELATED: Mild winter leading to early onset of allergies

"One thing that's of concern about this past winter is that we didn't have a lot of those super cold days and those usually kill off some ticks," Alex Carlson with the Metropolitan Mosquito Control District said. 

Carlson said they typically see ticks emerge in March or April. Without more cold days, he suspects there may be a more severe tick season in the spring. 

"Tick-borne diseases are on the rise throughout the country and here in Minnesota. We're seeing an increase in Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases out there, so it's very important that people are aware, tick aware," he said.

Experts recommend pet owners check for ticks daily, use a tick-preventive product and watch closely for changes in behavior and appetite. 

"Everything is kind of ahead of schedule this year," Manion said.

The Metropolitan Mosquito Control District said few mosquitoes are out yet. They rely on longer stretches of warm weather and food sources such as nectar from flowers which have yet to bloom. 

MORE NEWS: All our warm weather is impacting local car washes

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