Why do we need to worry about protecting our pets from fleas and ticks in winter?
Here in Wisconsin we suffer through some really cold winters, but on the upside there are no bugs, right? Not entirely. Obviously, during the cold months of January and February we do not see insects, but they are still around.
Fleas for example have four life stages; the egg, the larva, the pupae, and the adult flea. It is true that adult fleas cannot survive in freezing temperatures but the pupae life stage can. Also, along homes in dense vegetation it doesn't get as cold and the fleas live on rabbits and other wildlife during that time. This means that if your pet comes into contact with rabbits or their burrows/nests they may pick up fleas. Once your pet brings fleas into your home it then becomes quite a headache to get rid of them. The adults can live up to 100 days and female fleas can lay up to 50 eggs per day. That is why the population can explode in such a short period. These eggs then drop off your pet in the home and hatch into larva which then become pupae. The pupae life stage can last up to one year before they molt into the adult flea stage. The pupae are resistant to insecticides which means they have to emerge as adults, then jump on your pet that is protected with Nexgard or Frontline gold, before they die.
To sum it all up, if your pet is consistently on a flea preventative all year it will kill any adult flea before she can lay eggs and invade your home. The added bonus of doing year round protection is you do not have to worry about your dog picking up fleas if they go to dog parks or doggy daycare.
Now that we know fleas can remain a problem in winter, what about ticks? Unlike fleas, ticks will not invade your home environment, but they can survive outside in the cold. When your pet ventures out the deer tick may be waiting. Adult deer ticks can actively feed in winter as long as the air temperature is above 32 degrees. In winter's freezing temperatures, dense vegetation and snow can act as insulation and the temperature underneath them is a lot warmer than the air temperature thus protecting the tick. This is why if we have a few warmer days in January or February you can find ticks attached on your pets. It only takes one very small deer tick to attach and feed on your pet to cause a terrible disease that may be with them the rest of their lives.
PREVENTION IS KEY!!!!!!
There are many great veterinary products out there that can protect your pet from these two terrible parasites. Frontline Gold is a topical you apply monthly for protection and Nexgard is a newer product that is a yummy chew that you give orally once a month as well. Please feel free to contact us with any questions and try to stay warm!