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Many pet parents believe that when the temperature begins to drop, they can stop their flea and tick preventions. Although fleas and ticks thrive in warmer climates, they certainly don't disappear when the temperature drops and it is important to ensure your pet is protected all year round. Stopping preventative treatments poses a threat to your pet's health and can lead to long-term negative consequences. It leaves them vulnerable to nasty parasites such as fleas and ticks, as well as flea allergies, itchy flea bites and other tick-borne illnesses.
The risk of ticks
The Australian tick season doesn't usually start until September, but with a warming climate it is now more likely that ticks will remain active during winter. Ticks can be active any time the weather is above 3 degrees Celsius, meaning that on the eastern coast of Australia, ticks are active almost ALL the time and tick-borne illnesses can be transmitted no matter what the temperature may be. It is important to check your pet for ticks regularly, and visit a veterinarian if you find one and are unsure how to remove it.
The risk of fleas
Fleas are not a fan of the cold and tend to die in environments that are colder than 8 degrees Celsius. They are however, very good at finding their way into homes and other warmer areas where they have a better chance of survival, which explains why indoor-only animals can still get fleas. Pets can be exposed to fleas in social settings such as dog parks, kennels and grooming facilities, and bring them into the home. Fleas can also be brought inside by clothing, shoes and bedding, making them extremely difficult to avoid.
It only takes one flea to be brought into your home to cause an infestation. The flea life cycle lasts for three months, and if left untreated they will continue to live and breed in your home. If you find fleas on your pet or in your home, you should use an appropriate flea treatment for at least 3 months to stop the life cycle. It is also important to remember that the adult fleas you can see account for only a small percentage of the population as 90% are still in the immature stage and can only be seen by a microscope. One pair of fleas can produce up to 500 offspring, which means a flea infestation can get out of control very quickly if you don't get on top of it!
What flea and tick preventative should I use?
There are many flea and tick preventatives on the market and it can be overwhelming to choose which one is best for your pet. The answer will largely depend on which parasites you want to treat. If you want to protect your dog from fleas and ticks, we highly recommend a safe and effective chew such as Bravecto, Simparica or Nexgard. If you want to treat intestinal and heartworm in addition to fleas and ticks, we highly recommend an all-in-one chew such as Nexgard Spectra or Simparica Trio. Please note these are general recommendations and we highly recommend speaking to your veterinarian to determine which product to choose. The best flea and tick treatment for your pet depends on a number of factors, which your veterinarian will be able to advise. If you decide not to keep your pet on a preventative product all year round, be sure to check your pet for ticks regularly.
Prevention instead of treatment
Flea and tick preventatives are expensive but prevention is cheaper than treatment. Flea infestations are extremely expensive, difficult and time consuming to get rid of. They make their way into your home at a rapid rate and can take weeks to eradicate. In addition to causing an itch, flea bites can cause a nasty reaction in your pet’s skin, leading to flea allergy dermatitis which can last for weeks after the bite, often requiring medication and antibiotics.
While the risk of getting a flea or tick in winter is lower than other seasons, it is not impossible. Regardless of whether you think your pet will come in contact with fleas and ticks, it is crucial to provide year round protection. We recommend making flea and tick prevention a habit by giving your pet their medication on the same day each month and marking it on your calendar. Skipping treatment during winter will make you more likely to forget, and put your pet at risk. Protecting your pet against ticks and fleas involves keeping on top of prevention all year round. Don't risk it, protect your pet from nasty parasites so they can live a happy and healthy life!