The incredibly warm winter we had last year, coupled with the high heat this summer, has created a bumper crop of bugs for Fall 2012. We’re finally getting some relief from the heat, but that’s not exactly the best news for pets and parasites.
It’s tempting now that the weather is cooler, especially at night, to assume that the risk for fleas, ticks, mosquitos, and other parasites is over with. This is absolutely not the case! It’s still vitally important that pets continue their parasite prevention products. Here’s why:
Fleas start looking for warm bodies when the weather gets colder. They don’t survive in cold temperatures if they’re exposed, but they can easily overwinter on animals. They can also survive in cool temperatures in the house for long periods of time. Once we’ve had a couple of good, hard frosts, it’s safe to assume that the flea population outside has -decreased-, but it’s not safe to say it’s eliminated. Contact with pets, wild animals, or infested houses/buildings can allow fleas to get a foothold on your pet and house in the wintertime. We advise staying on topical flea/tick prevention year-round exactly for that reason. Frontline Plus and K9 Advantix II provide great protection against fleas and ticks.
Mosquitos can also be found indoors as the weather cools off. I’ve killed two in my own house in the last few days. Mosquitos put dogs and cats at risk of getting heartworm disease. Heartworm disease can be fatal in both dogs and cats. Cats are especially hurt as we don’t have an effective way to treat heartworm if a cat contracts the disease. The risk of transmitting West Nile Virus is also a human health risk. Be sure to have your screens in good repair and be watchful for mosquitos in the house. Heartgard Plus, Triheart Plus, and Advantage Multi all protect pets from heartworm disease.
Some intestinal worms can survive in colder temperatures, though most are killed by freezing. The eggs, however, can survive winter conditions outside. When the weather isn’t cold enough to have the ground frozen, dogs are at a much higher risk of exposure by getting mud on their feet. They may lick their feet, which inadvertently allows them to ingest the eggs found in soil. There’s always the risk of contracting parasites from another animal’s feces, too. Yes, that’s a disgusting thought, but dogs eat a lot of disgusting things. Keeping your pet on monthly heartworm prevention also provides protection against various internal parasites. Heartgard Plus and Triheart Plus both protect dogs from hookworm and roundworm infections. Topical Advantage Multi protects dogs from hooks, rounds, and whipworms.
Colder weather isn’t a good justification for slacking off on parasite prevention. Pets and people are still at risk of infections and infestations by parasites and the diseases they can carry. It’s far better to stay on the prevention than to try to fix a problem after it shows up.