What a crazy winter! The last few months have given us temps from below zero to the 50’s. Many of us have enjoyed not having to shovel feet of snow, but the weather brings new concerns for pet owners. Historically, we have not worried about things like fleas, ticks or intestinal parasites year round because our harsh winters decreased that threat for a few months. This is not the case anymore. We have seen pets come in with ticks or flea issues during our “winter” much more often the last few years and now experts are weighing in on these issues. Dr. Dryden, a leading parasite expert in the veterinary field, has said that climate and environmental changes have caused a change in the distribution and abundance of ticks. This has forced parasitologists to rethink recommendations on how best to protect pets. Ticks are of a particular concern because of the dangerous diseases they can transmit. Dr. Dryden says that while we may not see ticks 365 days a year, we do see them every month of the year and therefore MUST recommend year round preventatives. Ticks will come out of hibernation anytime the temperatures are over freezing and will be “active” and looking for a host when temps are between 32-40 degrees. Think of how many days we have had between those temps this year. Is your pet protected? Have they been on a topical, such as Parastar Plus® or Bravecto® the oral flea and tick preventative?
Fleas aren’t quite a resilient as ticks and the cold temps do affect their populations, however, some of the fleas favorite animals to live on are wildlife and the warmer winters have kept the wildlife a little more active. Furthermore, if you have a skunk, opossum, raccoon, etc. that likes to run through your yard or even worse, set up shop under your deck or shed, you need to know that they are likely bringing the fleas to your area. Infested animals can shed flea eggs every time they move around and eggs can survive for up to 2-3 months. If a wild animal has created a home or nest in your area, that is likely an area where the entire fleas life cycle is occurring there and new emerging adults fleas are just waiting for your pet to come by so they can find a new host. Summer and fall are still the most prevalent times for flea infestations, but again things are changing everyday, so preventing year round is the safest way to go.