Fleas Attack in Winter too!

There is a common misconception that fleas die off in the cold winter weather. At VetShopOnline.com, we would like to warn all pet owners that this is definitely not the case. In fact, heated homes during this period provide fleas with ideal breeding conditions. By being proactive and implementing flea control measures before flea numbers reach their seasonal peak, you can prevent a flea infestation in the summer of 2013!


Fleas for the First Time

Your pet is at risk of contracting fleas if they have been in the same area, such as a park or yard, where another animal with fleas has also been – both winter and summer. Adult fleas residing in their host animal’s fur lay eggs which fall into the surrounding environment. If your pet later visits this same area, any fleas that have developed into adulthood will attach to your pet, to feed from their blood. A single flea could then lay up to 400 eggs a week on your pet, which will in turn fall into the environment – probably your home. In the warmth of a heated house during winter, these eggs can hatch and develop into adults in just 2 weeks. As such, it can quickly escalate into a severe flea infestation. There are many flea prevetative products available such as Frontline Plus; which can help keep your pet protected from these parasites, year round.

Breaking the Cycle of Re-infestation

Once your pet has contracted fleas, it can be very hard to get rid of them. This is because they need to be destroyed at every life stage to break their vicious re-infestation cycle. Even if the conditions are not particularly warm, to encourage flea development, fleas in the pupae stage can lay dormant for up to 12 months; before growing into adults. So if your pet has had fleas previously, their warmth or movement in the home may stir dormant fleas to recommence development into adulthood, in the future. Therefore, flea prevention is vital the entire year. If practices are inconsistent, for example - you miss a monthly flea treatment dose, like Advantage, the fleas you conquered previously will take the opportunity to re-infest.

Flea Fighting Tips:
  • Vacuum daily to physically remove pre-adult fleas from the home. Approximately 95% of fleas in the three pre-adult stages; eggs, larvae and pupae, live in your pet’s immediate environment. So they could be lurking in cracks, crevices or the carpet within your house. Remember to dispose of the vacuum bag regularly.
     
  • Wash your pet’s bedding weekly to eliminate flea eggs.  Your pet probably spends a large portion of their time on the warm bed and blankets you provide them with in winter. However these cozy conditions offer fleas the perfect breeding ground. Made from an anti-pill fleece; frequent washing doesn’t harm the WeatherBeeta Throw Blanket fabric.
     
  • Prevent other pets that may be carrying fleas, from entering your yard. After a run in the park that other dogs may frequent; wash your pet with a flea shampoo such as Petgloss Insecticidal Shampoo. The shampoo will remove eggs and flea dirt from your pet’s coat and kill any fleas; but it is only effective at the time of washing.
     
  • Check your pet for fleas daily to spot the problem, before flea numbers get out of hand. This can be easily managed when combined with your pet’s grooming routine. The fine teeth of a Gripsoft Flea Comb help to remove both fleas and eggs from your pet’s coat. Pay particular attention to favourite flea hiding spots such as their head, neck and hind quarters.
     
  • Treat all household pets simultaneously; and never split doses between your pets. If you treat your pets at different stages, or with the incorrect dose, it will become very difficult to rid all animals from fleas. Some flea treatments, such as Permoxin, are designed for use on dogs only and are actuallly toxic to cats.
     
  • Never skip a flea treatment dose – not even during the coldest months of the year. Many topical treatments should be applied monthly, including Advocate (Advantage Multi). Even if your pet doesn’t currently have fleas; missing a preventative treatment dose will give fleas a chance to attack or make a comeback, if your pet has had them previously.
     
  • A variety of flea control options are available; which can be effective in different scenarios. Use the product that works best for you and your pet’s situation. For example, Advantix is a great waterproof flea prevention product for dogs who like to get wet; but it cannot be used on cats.
     
  • Always read the flea control product instructions to ensure correct application. For example, spot-on treatments such as Revolution are the most effective if you don’t wash your pet 24 hours before or after application. 
So make it your New Year's resolution to keep your pet flea free for the entirety of 2013!

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