Many pet owners look at wintertime as a welcome break from bugs. And with that, their pets get a break from flea and tick medications, while their wallets get a little breather from the hefty costs of those drugs.
But is it a break pets and pet owners can afford to take?
If you think your indoor pets are not susceptible to fleas, think again.
- The flea is a very resilient pest with a unique, four-stage life cycle, that includes eggs, larvae, pupae, and adult.
- The flea is capable of surviving in outdoor temperatures as low as the mid to upper 30s.
- If the adult flea can find a host to live off of, like your pet, it can stay toasty warm throughout the winter months.
- As long as they are protected from the harsh weather, flea pupae remain settled in their cocoons until it is warm enough to come out.
Under natural circumstances, it would be unlikely your pet would become infested with fleas during the winter since they tend to be dormant during the colder weather.
However, since most people use some form of central heating indoors, fleas can comfortably survive year-round. Your heated home can support unwelcome travelers brought in on your shoes or pets.
Your best course of action is to treat your pet year-round with a preventative recommended by your veterinarian, and to routinely check for ticks. There are several types of preventatives on the market now, including topical treatments, oral chews, and collars.
In addition to preventing fleas and ticks on your pet, remember to take steps to make it less likely fleas and ticks will stick around your home. Be sure to:
- Wash your pet’s bedding
- Vacuum carpets and soft surfaces
- Regularly vacuum areas where your pet spends the most time
- Routinely empty vacuum bags
Ticks are creepy, crawly, and can be deadly. Though these pests can be invisible to the naked eye (some are the size of a pinhead), don’t let winter fool you into a false sense of safety.
Once the cold weather breaks, tick season is on. These tiny critters come out with force and look to hitch a ride on the nearest warm body they can find.
- If the temperature gets near 40 degrees, ticks will become active. Ticks are unaware of the month or whether there is snow on the ground.
- They bite and then feed off of the blood of that human or animal’s body.
- When ticks are drinking the host’s blood, they can be transmitting serious diseases.
While Lyme Disease has been quite prevalent (and devastating) in recent years, ticks also transmit ehrlichiosis, anaplasmosis, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
Tick prevention protects your dog (and you) from these diseases.
In climates that remain mild year-round, the most active tick season is from October to March.
Climates with four distinct seasons usually have two highly active tick seasons. The first occurs in early spring and the second runs from early summer through fall.
Like fleas, ticks can survive milder winters in cold climates. The warmth provided by heated homes also offers ticks a safe breeding ground.
Year-round flea and tick prevention is not only important for your pet’s health, it is also the most effective way to keep you and your home disease and insect free.
Fortunately, many products work as both flea and tick preventatives, thus eliminating the need for multiple medications. It is crucial that you talk with your veterinarian about what type of product to use and how to effectively administer it, as pets react differently to medications.
In the long run, paying for year-round flea and tick preventative will cost you significantly less than vet bills to treat flea or tick-borne illnesses.