The beginning of every month I give my dog Wiley his heartworm medication as well as a topical flea and tick medication. When I first got the splendid animal, I remember asking my veterinarian about when I needed to use flea and tick medicine. Particularly, I wanted to know if I needed to use it all year round. My vet told me that it was recommended in places like Virginia that dogs are protected year round from nuisance bugs.
Fleas are not only annoying and itchy to dogs, but can also cause longer term damage. Some dogs scratch so hard they have permanent fur loss and scarring in certain places. Ticks also transmit diseases like erlichiosis and Lyme disease. Unfortunately many pet owners think that fleas and ticks are only active in the spring and summer months, which isn’t the case.
Both fleas and ticks can live all year round depending on the weather. Both need a good freeze before they can be noted as inactive. With some parts of the country seeing record highs, fleas and ticks could be on the move. When the winter comes to a close, ticks become active in temperatures over 40 degrees. Fleas usually die off outdoors in the fall and winter months, but can live indoors year round.
The FDA regulates the production of flea and tick medicines and provides these tips for using the products:
- Read the label carefully.
- Apply exactly as recommended.
- Keep pets away from each other until the product dries (so they don’t accidentally ingest some).
- Monitor for side effects.
- Ask your vet before applying on older pets
- Wash your hands with soap and water after applying
- If your dog shows any side effects, wash your dog with mild soap and water
- Don’t use on puppies or kittens.
For more information, check out the FDA’s page on flea and tick medication