Does My Pet Need Flea and Tick Preventative During the Winter? | PetFirst
Pet Care & Health

Does My Pet Need Flea and Tick Preventative During the Winter?

by PetFirst Pet Insurance
3 years ago

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 and 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?

Facts about fleas:

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.  
  • Once ideal temperatures and conditions are reached — roughly 70-95 degrees Fahrenheit and 60-85 percent humidity —  pupae complete their development, emerge from their cocoons in large numbers, and reproduce.
  • At this point, all fleas need is a warm place to lay their eggs.
  • An adult flea can live 60 to 100 days and can lay more than 2,000 eggs in that time!

Can my pet get fleas in the winter?

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 is now the ideal motel for fleas, brought in on your shoes or pets, to check in for the winter months.

How do I control fleas?

Your best course of action is to treat your pet year-round with a preventative recommended by your veterinarian.  There are several types on the market now, including topical treatments, oral chews, and collars.

PetFirst’s Routine Rider Coverage options to help you pay for portions of preventative care for your pet in addition to coverage for accidents and illnesses.  Get a quote today.

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.

  • Wash your pet’s bedding
  • Vacuum carpets and soft surfaces
  • Regularly vacuum areas where your pet spends the most time
  • Routinely empty vacuum bags

Talking about ticks

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, 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.

When are ticks active?

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.

Treat your pets year-round

Most current literature recommends that you continue your pet’s flea and tick preventative throughout the year unless advised otherwise by your vet.  

Year-round flea and tick prevention are 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 in any climate.

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.  

Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances.

Guest Blogger: Lauren Lee

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