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Fleas and ticks thrive in warm weather, which, in many states, starts around springtime. Once temperatures drop, usually below 45 degrees Fahrenheit, these parasites become less active and less of a threat.

Yet, many environmental factors can influence the intensity of fleas and ticks from year to year. As the climate is warming and seasons shift, these parasites are appearing even earlier than many dog owners had initially anticipated.

Regardless of the climate where you live, it’s important to learn when your pets are most at risk. Whether flea-or-tick season has started in your state or otherwise, you can keep your dog safe with some preventative measures.

Fleas and Ticks: Nuisances That Carry Disease

While there are key differences, fleas and ticks are both parasites that suck blood from both animals and people. A host serves two purposes: a consistent food source and a temporary home. However, this is not a symbiotic relationship; both can transmit life-threatening diseases if not promptly removed from the host.

There are at least 90 species of ticks in the U.S. One of the deadliest varieties is the black-legged tick, also known as the “deer tick.” In some parts of the country, up to 15% of these arachnids can transmit Lyme disease, which can lead to cardiac, neurological, and urinary complications in dogs.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that there are over 300 species of fleas in the U.S. Fleas cause more than itching and skin irritation; some carry tapeworm eggs, which can be transmitted to dogs when they groom themselves and ingest the insects.

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Your State’s Flea and Tick Season

Since temperatures are fluctuating, your state’s flea and tick season may have also shifted. See below for your state’s flea and tick season so that you can best prepare.


  • Alabama
  • California
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • Nevada
  • Oregon
  • South Carolina
  • Texas
  • Washington

March to July

  • Utah
  • Wyoming

March to September

  • Colorado
  • Kansas

March to November

  • Iowa
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Missouri
  • New Jersey
  • New York

March to December

  • Delaware
  • Kentucky
  • Ohio
  • Rhode Island

April to July

  • Montana

April to August

  • Idaho

April to September

  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • North Dakota
  • Oklahoma
  • Tennessee
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
Danish-Swedish Farmdog standing in a field of grasses and flowers.
Kewalin Madsen/Shutterstock

Fleas Thrive in Mild Temperatures

Fleas thrive in humid areas, typically found among tall grasses and shrubs. However, in the wild (and without a consistent food source), a flea will die within one to two weeks — a fraction of its 100-day lifespan. That’s why these six-legged hoppers jump from dog to dog, and a flea can jump a distance of nearly 100 to 200 times its own size.

A flea’s lifecycle also plays a critical role in when they become more of a threat to dogs. They have four life stages: egg, larvae, pupa, and adult. When environmental conditions aren’t ideal, such as temperatures dipping below 45 degrees Fahrenheit, the pupa can stay in their cocoons and bide their time until temperatures increase.

While fleas don’t live in colonies, female fleas can start laying eggs almost immediately after first feeding on a host. They can lay about 50 eggs per day, meaning it’s not long before one flea on your dog could turn into several.

Ticks Can Survive Long Periods Without Hosts

Ticks can survive months without feeding on a host’s blood. They’re typically found in wooded areas littered with dead leaves, or wood piles, especially in moist areas or near bodies of water. They’re also common after periods of heavy rainfall. During the winter, they burrow for insulation, where they enter a period of low energy. Then, around springtime or any days when the weather gets warmer, they exit their dormant period and look for hosts.

Nature relies on frigid winters to cull the tick population — at least to some extent. A study conducted by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation & Natural Resources found that tick populations start decreasing when temperatures dip to -2 to 14 degrees Fahrenheit.

During especially colder seasons, up to 20% of a local tick population could die off. As records indicate warmer and warmer years, ticks also come out sooner. Since not as many ticks were culled during the winter, there could be more once temperature conditions are ideal for them to thrive.

©Adam Ján Figeľ -

Fleas on Your Dog: What to Know

Nobody wants to discover fleas on their dog. However, these insects are sneaky and can be difficult to spot. If you notice your dog persistently itching, you’ll need to do some investigating to confirm whether they have fleas. Some signs include:

  • Fur loss
  • Flaky skin
  • Scabs
  • Raised, red bumps
  • Biting and chewing at the skin
  • The insects crawling on the dog’s fur (particularly on its neck and shoulder blades)
  • Flea dirt

You’d find “flea dirt” on your dog’s belly and underside, and where the fur thins around their joints. Flea dirt is a flea’s excrement, which contains a dog’s digested blood. It appears as small, black, and flaky, and is commonly mistaken for regular dirt, or fleas themselves. Since flea dirt is feces left behind by these parasites, it generally only arises after the flea has fed on the dog’s blood.

The good news is that there are many medications that kill fleas, including pills and chewables or topical treatments. There are also preventative vaccines your vet can administer before flea-and-tick season starts.

Ticks on Your Dog: Important Considerations

No matter where you live, you should regularly examine your dog for ticks after long periods of being outdoors. But there’s no need to panic if you find one or several. If caught early, you can comb the tick out of your dog’s fur, but be sure to dispose of it with rubbing alcohol. You don’t want it finding its way back to your dog — or you.

Owner taking a tick off a dog.
sutteerug/Getty Images Plus

If you find a tick that has attached itself to your dog, there’s usually no need to worry. To safely remove the tick:

  1. Part your dog’s fur with a comb to zero in on the tick.
  2. Grasp the tick’s head with tweezers, getting as close to the skin as possible.
  3. Gently pull in a straight, outward motion.
  4. Dispose of the tick.
  5. Pat the tick bite with a disinfectant using a simple saline solution.

Over the next few days, monitor the bite for signs of irritation, redness, and swelling. Your dog will typically return to its normal activities in a few days’ time.

Preventing Fleas and Ticks Is a Year-Round Practice

Flea-and-tick season varies from year to year, with geographic location, weather conditions, and temperature being key contributors. But, regardless of where you live, prevention is key to keeping your dog from contracting flea-and-tick-borne diseases. By consulting your dog’s veterinarian, you can implement a well-rounded treatment plan that considers your pet’s age, immune system’s strength, and activity level.

Related article: Dog Products Every Owner Needs for Spring
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