Cats and dogs can get fleas in the winter, so it's a good idea to continue flea treatment all year long.
Should we continue to treat fleas in the winter?
Fleas are amazingly resilient! A female flea can lay 40 eggs daily (280 weekly), which fall off of the dog or cat as they are laid and end up in carpet or cracks in the floor. It is likely that even the most protected pet will get one (or more) fleas yearly. Of the flea life stages, egg, larva, pupa and adult, the pupa can remain dormant for months. A summer pupa may hatch in the home in the winter. Remember, we heat our homes in the winter.
Years ago, controlling fleas was challenging and eliminating fleas was almost impossible. North Carolina even had a law that motels and hotels could not allow pets inside because of fleas. Some flea control products (dips, sprays, foggers, powders, yard sprays) were toxic to pets and people, and were also time consuming and expensive. Fleas caused severe discomfort for many pets: allergic reactions, hot spots and other bacterial skin infections. Some owners gave up owning pets because of fleas.
As new, more effective and safer products became available and one of the big lessons learned was that guessing when flea season starts and stops each year caused even the new products to fail. Year-round treatment dramatically heightened the success of these products.
Do I continue to treat my pet for fleas year round? In North Carolina, the answer is “yes!” During the winter months, it used to be that your pets were less likely to become infested with fleas, Pets with flea issues are becoming common all year round. Since fleas can enter your home and infect your pet in so many ways - through cracks, screen doors, even by riding on your clothes – it’s vital that you and your pet are protected. Using a monthly flea control product dramatically reduces the probability of full-on flea infestations and prevents secondary bacterial infections due to itching. It will also help prevent parasites caused by fleas, such as tapeworms.
Another concern is that if flea control products aren’t administered during the winter, more effort is required (in addition to patience) in the future to eliminate fleas. Ridding your home of a flea infestation can be a costly problem to fix; it’s better to prevent fleas monthly than fight a full-on infestation.
There are several different medications that can help with preventing fleas in your pet. It is important to discuss with your veterinarian the best flea prevention for your pet based on lifestyle and medical history.