Do my Pets Need Flea or Tick Products in the Winter?

This is a question we often get asked. The answer…..it depends. Not a very helpful answer, to be sure, but there are a few qualifiers to help you make the decision. Let’s assume we’re talking about this winter in New England. The following comments may help you to decide.

Q. Are ticks the more predominant pest that affects your pet?
A. If the answer is yes, then keep in mind that currently we have several inches of snow on the ground throughout New England. Since ticks tend to be less active in the winter and burrow into the ground, a snow cover will generally provide a buffer layer between the ticks and your pet. So unless you are in a very high tick infestation area, pesticide administration for ticks should not be as necessary until we get a bit of a thaw.

Q. Do you have a flea problem with the pets in your household?
A. If the answer is yes, then even if the problem appears better in the winter, but not completely gone, winter flea preventatives are advised. If the answer is no, then it is unlikely that your pet will start with a new flea infestation during the winter. However if your pet is in contact with other pets outside of your household (play groups, day care, outside pet sitting), then the risk is always there and application may be advised.

Q. I have a new pet and don’t want him/her to develop an infestation of fleas or ticks.
A. If your pet has safely navigated the waters of a breeder, shelter, pet store and the like without picking up any stray parasites, then you should be fine for the winter. There is one caveat, however. If you had previously had a pet in the house with flea infestation, it is possible there may be a dormant problem waiting to awaken. Remember, contact with other pets always runs the risk of picking up a flea or a tick.

So why should we care? Our feeling at the Brockton Animal Hospital, is that any product, be it internal, external or environmental should only be used if absolutely necessary. Though these products all undergo rigorous testing and are deemed perfectly safe, one never knows if a pet has an idiosyncrasy to a particular substance that may not show itself until it is presented. So care and caution are the important buzz words when administering any product. If you have any questions regarding your particular pet’s situation, please feel free to call and we can help you to decide the appropriate path of treatment for your pet.