Do We Have Fleas and Ticks in Colorado?

There’s a common perception that in Colorado, there’s no need to worry about fleas and ticks. While it is true that we have much less of a problem with these critters than in other states, they still can be found here. So what’s the story? How likely are you or your pet to get bitten by ticks while in the outdoors? And do Colorado pets need flea and tick medicines and products?

Ticks are small arachnids that feed on the blood of humans and animals. The most common in our state is the Rocky Mountain wood tick, which is active during the spring and early summer but will mostly become dormant during hotter summer weather. Ticks are a problem because they can cause a variety of diseases, such as tick fever and tularemia. According to the Colorado State University Extension, there are 27 species of ticks found in Colorado, mostly at higher elevations. So after camping or hiking, it is a good idea to check for ticks on yourself and your pets. Learn more about these bloodsuckers in Colorado Ticks and Tick-Borne Diseases, a fact sheet from the Extension.

Fleas also feed on blood. According to the Extension’s fact sheet Fleas and Plague,

There are approximately 80 species of fleas in Colorado, among the greatest number found in any state. However, flea problems around the home and on pets are not as common as in other parts of the United States. Colorado’s dry climate is unfavorable for flea development, particularly the immature stage. However, some types of fleas are common on wild animal hosts and in the burrows or nests of some mammals where the humidity may be high. Very few species of fleas are ever involved in bites of humans or domesticated pets.

This is why most Colorado pet owners don’t need to worry too much about purchasing flea and tick products, but it’s still a good idea to check with your veterinarian to see if they might be right for your pet. Along with Fleas and Plagueanother fact sheet that explains more about these products is Flea and Tick Products and Your Pet. Both publications include information on the products’ use and, since they are pesticides, how to avoid poisoning.

Fleas are more likely to affect wildlife in Colorado, so to help avoid transmission, it is a good idea to keep your pets away from wildlife. Fleas can cause plague in rodents, which can be transmissible to people and pets.