Does My Pet Need Heartworm, Flea And Tick Protection In The Winter Months?

It is a common myth that the cold, winter months mean your pets are out of harm’s way from heartworm disease, fleas, and ticks. The reality is these pests remain a threat to your pet any time of year and can survive and thrive in cold temperatures. While mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks don’t lead to your pet catching a cold or flu, they can still make your pet sick and lead to other diseases.

Mosquitoes

It may seem odd to worry about mosquitoes in the winter, especially if you live in snowy regions, but you can never be too careful. A mild winter can mean a mosquito is able to spread heartworm disease easier than in very cold temperatures. An additional benefit to giving your pet year-round heartworm medication is that they generally also help protect your pet from intestinal parasites, which also pose a risk year-round.

Fleas

Did you know that adult fleas are only in the world for 8 hours before they begin mating and producing eggs? That means it only takes one measly flea to cause an infestation in your home, even in the winter! Fleas can live in temperatures as low as 33 degrees for a short period of time, and if they manage to make it in your home in the time span, they can be comfortable for months.
There are a few things you can do to help manage the spread of fleas inside your home:

Give your pet a monthly flea preventive. This will not only help keep them more comfortable but will help control the number of fleas using your pet as a host. Both oral and topical options are available and your veterinarian can help you determine the best method for your pet.

Vacuum all the areas your pet hangs out on a regular basis, and don’t forget under furniture, behind doors, etc. Flea eggs can lay dormant in the carpet for over a year!

Wash your pet’s bedding in hot water and dry on hot heat. Once inside the home or inside a dog or cat’s sleeping area, it can take up to 3 months to rid the environment, making regular cleaning essential.

Ticks

While the fall and winter months aren’t necessarily prime time for ticks, they are still out there. Ticks can remain active in low temperatures (32-40 degrees Fahrenheit) and on the chance there is a warm, sunny day you want to enjoy outside, ticks will post a risk to your pet. Both oral and topical options are available and your veterinarian can help you determine the best method for your pet.

A few more ways your pet can be exposed to mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks in the winter months:

  • Traveling with your pet to and from warm places (mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks)
  • If a family member brings their pet on a trip to see you for the holidays (fleas)
  • A trip to the groomer for a nail trim where other dogs have been (fleas)
  • Boarding your pet while you go on a holiday trip (fleas)
  • Talk to your veterinarian to determine the best protection for your pet.