Do You Really Need Flea and Tick Medication in the Winter?

BY | December 30 | COMMENTS PUBLISHED BY
Do You Really Need Flea and Tick Medication in the Winter?

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Many pet owners want to stop giving their dogs flea and tick medication during winter. However, even in cold climates, veterinarians recommend continuing treatment all year. Fleas and ticks can remain real dangers even during the dead of winter.

Fleas and Ticks Are Tougher Than You Think


Once the calendar turns to fall, many pesky bugs such as mosquitoes disappear for the most part, but that doesn't mean all insects and parasites are gone. All New Pets explained that fleas could live at temperatures as low as 33 degrees for up to five days outside. And if your pup catches one of these fleas and carries them indoors during these near-freezing outdoor temps, the fleas can thrive in the balmy indoors and stick around all season.

 

Similarly, ticks are active when temperatures rise to 40 degrees. It means that when you take your dog out for a long hike on a gorgeous winter day, they're as exposed to ticks as they can be in early fall or late summer, when ticks wreak the most havoc.

There's No Warning For Risks


Another reason you shouldn't stop your dog flea and tick preventives during the winter is that other dogs may carry ticks or fleas from warm environments to your puppies, such as at doggie daycare or the airport. There are also no rules about when winter starts and ends. So if you take your dog off on Dec. 21 and put it back on medication on Feb. 21, there may have already been spring weather and outdoor dangers, and they may be scratching away at fleas. 

 

Veterinarians advise using medication all year round because the side effects are mild and the risks of stopping treatment are serious. Continuing through the winter ensures your puppy is never unprotected from fleas and ticks, which are irritating and can carry an array of illnesses.

Invest in the Right Medication


There are various treatments to prevent fleas and ticks for an entire month, so discover which is best for your pet.

 

  • Frontline Plus for Dogs - This over-the-counter medication works in only 12 hours to kill ticks, fleas, lice, and mites. It's also an easy-to-apply topical dog flea medicine that's waterproof and provides 30 days of protection.

  • K9 Advantix II - This flea and tick medicine doesn't just protect against ticks, fleas, lice, and mosquitoes, killing all within 12 hours of application. Advantix is safe for puppies older than seven weeks and protects for 30 days.

  • Advantage II for Dogs - Advantage II protects from new fleas two hours after it's taken and kills all eggs, larvae, and fleas after 12 hours. While Advantage flea and tick prevention for dogs doesn't protect against ticks, it's perfect for dogs who live in areas where lice are a far more significant issue.

 

Use PetPlus to save on these popular preventative medications and many more over-the-counter and prescription drugs.

How Do Ticks and Fleas Survive The Winter?


A cat or dog is at a lesser risk of falling prey to a flea infestation during winters if living in the natural environment. It is because fleas tend to lay dormant in very cold weather conditions. However, pets are mostly kept indoors during winter with central heating. And this warm artificial environment can allow the breeding of fleas throughout the year.

 

 Let's put it like this. It may be a myth that fleas do not survive during winter. They can very much live through the winter, particularly in the indoor environment, which is warmer and more humid. As a pet owner, you must take specific essential steps to rid your home and pets of these parasites. Otherwise, they will continue to breed even in the extreme winter months.

No Hibernation for Fleas


It is true that no flea (egg, pupae, larvae, or adult flea) is capable of surviving in a near-freeze temperature environment for a very long time. But fleas are innovative and opportunistic creatures and find their way into warm-bodies hosts such as opossums, raccoons, cats, and dogs. They may also survive in warm shelters like your home, garage, or shed. This way, they can live throughout the year. 

 

Further, fleas do not hibernate like other animals or birds during winter. An adult flea can stay inactive inside its cocoon for 5 to 9 months. However, temperatures falling below 37.4°F (3°C) have the potential to kill pre-emerged fleas. Hence, adult fleas seek insulated or warm areas for laying eggs. The flea larvae emerge from these eggs during springtime when the weather conditions are more suitable.

 

The Weather Doesn't Matter to Fleas and Ticks

You may think that fleas and ticks are affected by the weather. In fact, they're cold-blooded, which means they don't rely on warmth to stay alive. They can survive in freezing temperatures and extremely hot temperatures. They even thrive in humid conditions and dry conditions alike.

Fleas do have a few limitations to their survival capabilities. They cannot survive in an environment with no food supply or hosts (you or your pets). But if there's an option for them to feed off of something else, they'll take it any day, and so will your pet.

It's Harder to See Ticks in the Winter Months

You'll find that ticks are harder to see in the winter months. Ticks are active during warmer seasons, so you're more likely to spot them in your yard or on your dog when temperatures rise. But that doesn't mean a tick-free winter is guaranteed!

When it comes to diagnosing ticks, it's important not only to know what they look like but also what they sound like, and this can be especially helpful during colder months. If you're unsure whether or not you've been bitten by one of these hitchhiking pests, we recommend listening closely for their telltale sounds: The larvae call out with a high-pitched hum as they suck blood from their host (similar to crickets), while adult females emit shrill chirps if disturbed or removed from their host.

Winter Survival for Ticks


Ticks will be more active during selected months of the year, depending on the region and the species. While summer is a suitable time for breeding ticks, they might survive the winter months too. Let's find out how ticks can live through the winter. They may latch onto a host or go dormant. Ticks often hide leaf litter commonly present in bushy or wooded areas. 

 

With snowfall, these dormant ticks stay protected under the debris layer and manage to survive. Soft-shell ticks can survive since they stay underground in dens or burrows. Generally speaking, many tick species may be harmless as far as your pet's safety is concerned. However, it would be best if you took some precautions like a flea collar for dogs to avoid infestation even during wintertime. It's best to have flea and tick treatment for dogs done throughout the year, including the winter season.

 

Keep Fleas Out of Your Home This Winter

 

While many pet parents think that their furry friends are only in flea danger during warm weather, the truth is that fleas can pester a pet all year long. Although these parasites typically thrive in warmer environments, heated homes can provide excellent alternatives to a hot summer yard. As the American Hospital of North Asheville in North Carolina explained, fleas, which lay up to 40 eggs each day, can plant eggs on your pet during the peak months between April and October. 

 

Then, these eggs can fall off your pet in your home and find their way into the carpet or flooring. The AHNA explained that pupa could form from these eggs and remain dormant for months before becoming fully grown in the warmth of your winter home. Without warning, you could have a flea infestation on your hands. In other parts of the U.S., where it's warm all year long, flea protection is even more critical. Make sure you keep flea treatment for cats and dogs up to date on all flea medication no matter what the calendar says so that nothing will catch you by surprise.

What flea treatments are the best?


There's no one flea treatment that's the best. Still, luckily there are a variety of brands and types so that your trusted companion won't have to worry about the diseases and discomfort associated with these pests.

  • Frontline Plus - Frontline Plus for Dogs and Cats are two of the best-known treatments in the business. This once-monthly topical flea treatment for dogs protects against ticks, mites, lice, and fleas and doesn't require a prescription.

  • Advantage II - With formulations for dogs or cats of all sizes, Advantage II also offers easy-to-use, over-the-counter medication to prevent these pests and clear up any infestations. Advantage II is waterproof and lasts all month.

  • K9 Advantix II - K9 Advantix II is a dog-specific, waterproof topical flea medicine for dogs that protects against fleas, ticks, mosquitos, flies, and lice. It's safe for dogs older than seven weeks and a great way to protect your dog each month.

  • Comfortis - This flea and tick medication has formulations for both cats and dogs. Comfortis is one of the most effective prescription flea pills for dogs that starts working in 30 minutes!

  • Seresto - If you're tired of monthly topical or oral treatments, consider the Seresto collar for eight months of uninterrupted protection against fleas and ticks. There are Seresto flea collars for dogs and cats.

Whether or not you need flea and tick medication depends on where you live. The weather and temperature, the type of pets you have, the type of environment you live in, and the type of flea and tick medication your pet uses are all important factors. Your vet will also take into account whether or not your pet has allergies to certain ingredients that might be found in some types of flea products. They’ll also check if other conditions exist that would make it unsafe for them to use certain kinds of products. such as heartworm preventatives for cats or dogs with kidney disease.

Use your PetPlus membership for affordable year-round protection from fleas.



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