This question is one that we, here at the Mountain Road Animal Hospital, are hearing quite often. With the fall season fast approaching and winter on its heels, everyone wants to know how long to continue with their monthly treatments. Ticks can live outdoors for as long as the outside temperature stays above 4 degrees Celsius. It’s recommended to do tick treatments until it turns cold enough to send these nasty pests back into hibernation. As for fleas, these annoying critters can live year round indoors. A good rule of thumb is that as soon as the frost hits the ground, they are not much of a threat outdoors. They can, however, live a very comfortable, happy life indoors with you and your pets! Always remember that your friends can carry hitchhikers into your home on their clothes, backpacks etc. Even if they don’t own pets, if they are in a location where fleas are present they can bring them into your home. Same applies if you were to go to a friend’s house where fleas are present. You can carry them back home yourself.
Pets are at a higher risk of bringing fleas home during the cold months, if they are in locations where other animals are present such as dog parks, grooming salons, kennels, obedience classes etc. anywhere that there are other pets, the risk is there. All it takes is for the flea to jump from one dog onto yours, for your pooch carries it home with him.
Picture this; Sully (dog) has fleas in his home. It’s February, and his owner decides to take him to the dog park. Your Zeus is happily running around playing and wrestling with Sully. Unbeknownst to you, a couple of fleas jump from Sully to Zeus, where they snuggle in to stay nice and warm. Thirty minutes later, Zeus is back home curled up on his favourite sofa. The fleas decide it’s time to stretch their legs and emerge. They eat, lay their eggs and thus begins the cycle of fleas in your home. It is as easy as that!
It is recommended that if your dog is in the high-risk category that flea treatment should continue year round. Otherwise, spot checking your pet throughout the colder months is recommended. If during the colder months your dog is exposed to a high-risk location it wouldn’t hurt to do a spot treatment to be on the safe side.
Written by Lisa Michalik, RVT