By David Schuman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The start of spring may seem delayed, but spring problems are not waiting for a warm-up.

Tick season has started, and they could have a big impact on your health, as well as your pet’s health.

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Monica Joubert learned the hard way with her border collie, Winston.

“He had Lyme disease last year,” Joubert said. “We weren’t very responsible with our tick prevention. We noticed that he was pretty lethargic, especially for a Border Collie.”

Winston’s antibiotics worked, but the damage to his kidneys may shorten his life. Dr. Stuart Dalton, a veterinarian at White Bear Animal Hospital, says they see dogs test positive for Lyme disease every week. He says it’s not too early in the year to start talking about ticks.

“It affects [dogs’] joints and it causes them to be painful,” Dalton said. “That can cause permanent damage if it’s let go too long.”

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(credit: CBS)

Dalton advises avoiding heavy tick areas like the woods and deep brush, checking your dog thoroughly at the end of the day and regular testing.

Tick checks are also an important tool for people to prevent Lyme disease.

Elizabeth Schiffman with the Minnesota Department of Health’s Vector-Borne Diseases Unit says ticks like to hide, usually on our lower bodies. She says it’s OK to take them off with tweezers, or even your fingers.

“We always want people to get out and enjoy, you know, the beautiful weather and do what they love to do, but just know that, especially you know, as we get into the month of May and into June, that’s kind of our prime risk season for ticks in Minnesota,” Schiffman said.

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Flu symptoms and fever can be signs of Lyme disease. It also can cause a red rash in the shape of a bullseye.

David Schuman