The winter months were unusually mild this year and health officials say that means we could have a bad tick season.

That’s causing many people to worry about tick-borne illnesses.

Dr. Randy Hammon at Northgate Animal Hospital says ticks usually hatch in May or June but he’s seeing tick season earlier than usual.

“We saw ticks all through the winter. There was never a time when we weren't seeing the occasional tick on pets but yes, they're really ramped up right now,” said Dr. Hammon.

The concern is all of the illnesses ticks can carry such as Lyme disease.

“The cases that our practice has diagnosed up to this point in pets are pets that have been in the Midwest or up in the Northeast and have come back to Tennessee,” he told Channel 3.

Another concern this year is the more serious Powassan Virus.

Dr. Hammon offers some advice when removing a tick from a person or pet.

“You want to wear gloves if you have them or at least wash your hands or use a little tick remover. You can secondarily infect yourself with a tick that's on a family member or a pet,” said Dr. Hammon.

If you’re going to spend time outdoors, experts suggest wearing long sleeves and pants if possible.

It’s also a good idea to wear insect repellent and always check your body for ticks when you come inside.

If you do find one on your body, experts say you should aim tweezers as close to the skin as possible and pull out the tick. You’ll want to monitor the area for any rash or flu-like symptoms. If that happens, call your doctor. Some medical professionals suggest saving the tick so it can be tested if needed.