This is the most common question we are hearing lately.
Fleas can be a risk all year round since they live indoors as well as outdoors. During the winter months, they go into hibernation and are less likely to be picked up from the ground. However, they can still be easily picked up from other pets and homes that may have them. It’s as simple as your pooch playing in the backyard with the neighbour’s pooch. Even in -20 degree weather, if the neighbour’s dog has fleas then yours can most certainly pick them up and carry them home.
If you visit your best friend for coffee and her home has fleas you can very easily pick them up and carry them home to your own pets. She, in turn, can bring them into your home as well.
Dogs that frequent boarding kennels, training classes, grooming salons etc. are also considered high risk for picking up fleas.
All this being said, it is recommended to treat year round if your pet falls into any of the above categories.
Ticks are those nasty blood-sucking critters that are becoming more of more of a risk every year. Ticks can carry Lyme disease and they can also cause Anemia if your pet is heavily infested with them. Ticks go into hibernation during the colder months, however, at any time when the outdoor temperature rises above 4 degrees they can emerge and become a risk. Even if there are 2 feet of snow on the ground, a beautifully warm winter’s day will cause them to rise above that snow and wait patiently for a passerby.
Here in the Maritimes, the weather can be unpredictable with the daytime temperatures rising and falling constantly so many people choose to use a tick prevention year round as well. If you choose to give Fido a break during the cold months, it’s imperative that you spot check your pet for ticks (and fleas).
The general rule of thumb for flea and tick prevention is to treat from March/April until October/November (depending on weather conditions) then you need to choose to either continue year round or take a break with spot checks.
Internal Parasites (worms) are very much like fleas. They can also be a risk year round. You can choose to either treat monthly or just a few times per year.
It’s best to discuss with your veterinarian and/or clinic staff as to which protocol would best suit your lifestyle.
Have a flea, worm and tick free winter everyone!
Written by: Lisa Michalik, Registered Veterinary Technician