Does my dog need flea and tick medication in the winter?

The mums are in full bloom, pumpkin spice is everywhere and the days are getting shorter; fall has officially made its way to the Old Line State.

Cooler weather means less insect activity, which in turn means it’s okay to skip the monthly flea, tick and heartworm prevention for your pets, right? Wrong!

Is tick and flea medication necessary in the winter?

There are very real risks of exposure to mosquitos, fleas and ticks year round in Maryland for your pet. These insects don’t simply die off in the winter months. Your pet could be exposed at home, in your backyard, at kennels, daycares and other facilities. It’s important to understand these risks and continue to protect your pet with preventative medicine in the winter months.

Risk of Lyme disease and ticks in the winter

Ticks are a year-round problem in Maryland. While they’re most active from March – December, some species of ticks, including the ones that transmit Lyme disease, can remain active throughout the winter. Ticks can be active in temperatures ranging from 40 degrees and as low as 32 degrees. The fluctuating temperatures in Maryland usually produce many mild days in the winter which is when we take our pets out to enjoy it, possibly exposing them to ticks and other parasites in the environment.

Risk of fleas in the winter

Now that the weather is starting to cool, fleas are looking to hitch a ride into warmer areas i.e. your home, on your pet. And let’s be honest, it’s much easier to prevent a flea infestation in your home than it is to get rid of them once they’ve moved in. Most importantly it is very uncomfortable for our pets to have blood sucking parasites biting them 24/7.

Fleas can survive temperatures as low as 33 degrees for as long as five days. Flea eggs can live year round in protected areas such as garages, crawl spaces and porches. It only takes one flea to cause an infestation; one flea that can be brought into your home on you or your pet.

Your pets can be exposed to fleas in social settings, too. Dog parks, grooming facilities, kennels and day cares are risks. It only takes one animal carrying one flea to spread them and expose your pet.

Risk of heartworm and mosquitos in the winter

Mosquitoes, as we know, are responsible for the spread of heartworms in both our canine and feline companions and mosquitos simply die off in the winter months, right? Wrong!

While most species of females do deposit their final batch of eggs as the temperatures begin to fall below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, and the eggs stay in a state of diapause until the spring, this isn’t always the case. Mosquitos are constantly changing and adapting to cold climates. Furthermore, Maryland is famous for having ever changing weather, so just a few mild nights can trigger eggs to hatch and new rounds of mosquitoes to emerge. It only takes a single bite from an infected mosquito to infect your cat or dog with the larvae that will eventually grow into heartworms. Keeping your pets on year-round heartworm medication prevents this type of infection, as well as other intestinal parasites.

Don’t take a gamble on your pet’s flea & tick prevention

While the risk of your pet getting a flea, tick or mosquito bite in the winter is lower than in the other seasons, we want you to be aware it is not impossible. Some pet owners consider preventatives to be expensive and try to save money in the winter, but anyone that has ever had a flea infestation knows how expensive, difficult and time consuming it is to to get rid of them once they’ve moved in. Your pet could contract a tick borne disease or heartworm disease which can be far more costly to treat than the cost of flea and tick medication.

In Conclusion

At Mobile Pet Vet we routinely recommend and carry Inceptor Plus for heartworm prevention, and Frontline Gold for preventing and controlling fleas and ticks, however there are many options. Our online store carries them and will conveniently ship them directly to your door, you can visit our online store to browse our flea and tick medication.

If you are unsure which products are best for your pet, just ask the vet via our online form. For the latest on heartworms, and how they can affect our four-legged family members visit the Heartworm Society’s Website.

Lisa Beagan

Lisa Beagan

Dr. Lisa Beagan is a 1995 graduate of the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University. After working in an equine practice then a small animal clinic, she opened Mobile Pet Vet in 2003. Dr. Beagan has also completed a veterinary acupuncture certification through the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society.

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