Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Announcements

The Pet Health Community and Pet Health Center are NOT substitutes for a vet visit. Contact a vet in an emergency! | Dog Conditions A-Z | Dog Symptoms A-Z | Cat Conditions A-Z | Cat Symptoms A-Z

Remember Your Beloved Pet
Since fleas disappear in winter, why keep my dogs on flea meds year round?
avatar
Will Draper, DVM posted:
Saying that fleas "disappear" in the winter is bit of a stretch, since there are four different stages of the flea in the environment. While adult fleas, flea larvae, and flea eggs don't fare well in really cold temperatures, flea pupae (like a cocoon) can survive up to a year in those conditions. Also, while it's cold outside, it's usually warm indoors, right? So if you have dogs and cats that bring fleas and all of their offspring indoors to reside in your carpet and bedding, you have a year-round flea problem. That's one very good reason to keep your pets on flea meds 12 months out of the year. If your dog is completely outdoors (does anyone still do that?), then this may not be an issue for you.

Fortunately, there are many topical and oral flea meds that help to remove and control the adult flea population, and they are generally very safe. I strongly recommend using a product that is recommended by your veterinary staff. Some of the over-the-counter flea products can be less safe than what your vet would provide.

Many dog owners are used to giving a heartworm preventative every month out of the year (especially those who live in the southern states where warmer, humid conditions create mosquito problems). What's great is that there are now heartworm-flea combination products that make year-round flea prevention easier and more affordable. There are oral heartworm-flea combos for dogs that not only protect them against heartworms and intestinal worms, but that also include a flea growth inhibitor. That's a fancy way of saying that it sterilizes the fleas that feed on your dog. The adult flea is only 5% of the problem. The other 95% is the other 3 stages: Eggs, larvae, and pupae. So, sterilizing the fleas is huge in working towards good flea control.

There are also topical flea-heartworm combinations that work well for not just dogs, but cats, too. These products work on removing the adult fleas.

Do you use year-round flea control? If not, why not?
Dr. Will
Reply
 
avatar
Violets_are_Blue responded:
As someone who sometimes has to hold dogs and cats infested with fleas, I have carried some of these dreaded insects home with me. Saying that, I keep everyone on Frontline Plus year-round to prevent a couple of fleas from becoming a horrendous horde.

Another reason to keep pets on flea prevention is to help keep tapeworm infections low as well which a majority of heartworm preventions do not control.
 
avatar
Ponyrun2 responded:
I am probably jinxing myself by writing this but I haven't had a single flea on my pets in over 10 years and I live in SW Florida (and 3 different houses in that time)....

Yes, I know what to look for.... the actual flea.... flea "dirt"... I even had a dog who was allergic to flea bites so I would quickly know if there were any.....

In my entire 41 years I've only seen 1 tick on any of my dogs and that was nearly 20 years ago.....

Where I live I'm more concerned about mosquitos.... we've had cases of EEE in the next county and of course there's heartworms.... since I have "leftover" Ivermectin from demodex treatments I have been using that for my 3 large dogs... once it expires I'll probably put them back on Heartgard Plus....
 
avatar
Annie_WebMD_Staff responded:
Hi Dr Will,

I've been there and done that as far as a flea infestation goes, once it was when I didn't own any pets but pet sat my friend's cat. At that time I lived in a rental basement suite. Well my husband and I did end up paying to have the whole home fumigated.

Fleas on pets aren't any fun and I figure an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure so my dog is on topical monthly flea medication year round. My cat is strictly an indoor cat but I don't want to bring a flea problem indoors again!

- Annie
 
avatar
Will Draper, DVM replied to Ponyrun2's response:
Pony: you are quite fortunate! Let's hope there is no jinx. But remember...an ounce of prevention...

Also, make sure you're administering the proper dose of the ivermectin for heartworm prevention (which is quite a bit less than it is for demodex treatment), which I'm sure you've already covered with your vet. Thanks for sharing!
Dr. Will
 
avatar
Ponyrun2 replied to Will Draper, DVM's response:
Yeah I know... I calculated it once and the amount of ivermectin in a "large" Heartgard is something less than a drop once a month... and for the demodex my two pups were getting between 2 1/5 to 3 cc PER DAY

Right now I give them about .5 cc each (the 2 girls are over 50# and the boy is over 100#) once a month for heartworm prevention....
 
avatar
Will Draper, DVM replied to Annie_WebMD_Staff's response:
Annie- good for you! Spread the word! ;-)
Dr. Will
 
avatar
moby219 responded:
hi I'm new to this site and would like to say that I have 2 bichons that I give intercepter each month, actually skipped a year of use, but had them blood tested and they are back on again. Recently had an issue with tapeworms in the stool of 1 of them, they both got treated for that ,I think he swallowed a flea, that is what I read in regard to contracting them. now my 1 dog is taking comfortis along with the intercepter, instead of the topicals which leaves them looking yellow. ..... Not really a fan of giving to many meds and never have for the 10 yrs. I've had him, but this summer was a bad one especially since I found the tape worms freaky! I also give him benadryl when needed for the itching. Jeanne


Featuring Experts from AMERICAN VETERINARY MEDICAL ASSOCIATION

Sandy Willis, DVM, DACVIM, is a small animal internal medicine consultant for Phoenix Central Laboratory, an independent veterinary diagnostic laborat...More

Helpful Tips

Excellent website for information on parasites in dogs and catsExpert
I just conducted a seminar and hands-on demonstration on diagnosis of fecal parasites to veterinarians and technicians. An excellent ... More
Was this Helpful?
33 of 47 found this helpful

Helpful Resources

Be the first to post a Resource!

Related News

There was an error with this newsfeed

Report Problems With Your Medications to the FDA

FDAYou are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

Learn more about the AVMA

WebMD Special Sections