An early spring, mixed with a mild winter, is the perfect breeding ground for ticks and fleas.

Your pets are the ones most likely to pick them up.  Beyond being a nuisance, they also spread infectious disease that could cost your pet it's life.

"We have seen a lot of dogs with ticks and tick activity really all year, it just hasn't let up at all," said Monticello Animal Hospital veterinarian John Andersen.

Those hard-to-detect pests like fleas and ticks are out, and they have no problem making your pet their next host.  But for insects like the tick, that bite brings more than an annoyance - it can also can spread disease.

"Lyme disease has really become a big issue in this area," said Andersen.  "Maybe five years ago we didn't see it as much but now we know at our practice, for example, about 20 percent of dogs are positive for Lime disease," said Andersen.

A disease that can make both you and your pet sick.

"Lyme disease makes them very sick, it's a very real problem here," Andersen explained.  "We deal with it literally on a daily basis."

Anderson says to in order to prevent it, you need to beat the ticks to the punch.

"We think it takes one to two days of attachment before they can spread Lyme disease so really using products like Frontline and K9 Advantix, but also doing a tick check," said Andersen.

And while that takes care of most of the problem, it doesn't always spread to extremities which veterinarian technician Wanda Brubaker says is a quick fix.

"It's important that you check them when they've been outside even if its just a washcloth over their fur to check if they have embedded," said Brubaker.  You kind of feel for bumps or anything like that. Run downs legs and feet and then check inside ears all along the flap and behind the ears and then their face."

So with the help of preventative medicine and a careful eye for intruders, you and your pets can have a healthy spring and summer.

Some pet owners are in the habit of stopping flea and tick protection during the winter, but vets warn that year-round treatment is crucial especially during winters like the ones we had this year.