LONDON, ONT. -- Spring is in the air and that means tick season is upon us.

According to Jeremy Hogeveen, the vector-borne disease coordinator with the Middlesex London Health Unit, they’re out there, and they’re hungry.

“Prime time, the spring, when it’s still cool and there’s moisture in the air. It’s almost like they’re getting up, they’re hungry, and they’re starting to look for a blood meal.”

Hogeveen says the population of the black legged tick, also known as the deer tick, continues to expand throughout southwestern Ontario. Last year Public Health Ontario deemed much of the region a high-risk area for lyme disease.

He says very often people aren’t even aware they have been bitten by a tick.

“That’s why we encourage people when they’re out on trails, hiking, biking, cycling, anything like that- checking themselves over when they get out of those areas. Using bug spray, insect repellent. Long light coloured clothing also helps keep the ticks off.”

The most common type of Lyme disease rash looks like a bullseye - a red centre surrounded by a clear ring, with a red circle around it.

It’s not just people who need to be careful, but our furry family members are even more at risk of receiving a tick bite.

“We want to try to remove the tick sooner than later because the longer the tick is on the animal, the more likely that it can start to regurgitate bacteria like lyme disease into the dog,” says Veterinarian Dr. Gillian Egli of Oakridge Animal Clinic in London.

She says her clinic treats several dogs every week for tick bites.

“When they come in to us we remove the tick and we try to identify it under a special microscope that we have, which will let us know if that dog and their family is at a higher risk for exposure to Lyme disease.”

She recommends dogs be put onto a tick prevention program in either pill form or topical application.