The winter here in North Carolina is in full-swing, so that means all those fleas, ticks and mosquitoes that have been threatening our pets’ health are now dead. That means we can all put away the flea, tick and heartworm prevention medications until the weather warms up. Right? Actually, sadly that is not the case.
While colder weather does reduce the activity of these pests, it doesn’t eliminate the risk completely. Also, have you been outside in Chapel Hill this winter? The sustained sub-freezing temperatures that are required to kill these insects has not arrived yet, and may not at all this year. January this year feels more like March.
Even in areas where those sustained low temperatures do arrive, fleas, ticks and mosquitoes find a way. Adult fleas will die in cold weather but if the adult flea is on an animal or in a home, it can survive easily through the winter months. The flea pupae can even survive in sub zero weather outdoors and then will come out of dormancy once warmer weather comes. There have been plenty of days this winter that would wake up these flea pupae and spur their maturation into adult fleas.
Ticks don’t really have as much trouble with the cold. They become much less active during the winter but in Southern winters, there really shouldn’t be a lot of confidence your pet will stay free of them just because the calendar reads December, January or February.
Even the mosquitoes that carry heartworm are not guaranteed to be dead. The American Heartworm Society does not recommend halting heartworm prevention in the winter for this reason. Heartworm is a deadly disease that can affect your pet’s lungs and all it takes is one mosquito bite from the wrong bug. Sure, the chances are much lower in the winter, but you shouldn’t be taking chances at all with your loved one’s life.
So, should you continue your pet’s heartworm, flea and tick prevention throughout the year? Yes. Some will say it’s unnecessary but while the risk is lowered, it’s still very much present. The risk of a car accident or house fire is low as well, but that doesn’t mean you should give up your car and fire insurance.
If you’ve ever talked to someone who had a flea infestation in their home, you know they can be very difficult to fully eliminate. The hassle involved in having your entire home treated, dealing with bites on you and your pets and taking a large financial hit just are not worth the risk. As they say, a pound of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Don’t skimp on your pet’s health. Be responsible and continue to administer their flea, tick and heartworm prevention treatments year-round.