Parasites are an irritating fact of life for mammals. Unable to survive on their own, these creatures cause a lot of damage for their small size. Fleas are among the most common parasites pet owners routinely deal with. These pests can take dogs with beautiful coats and leave them with patchiness and bald spots. Though we mostly know fleas as dog and cat parasites, they can bite humans as well. Fleas rank with cockroaches and bedbugs as the most loathed insects in indoor spaces. Naturally, any homeowner will want to respond to a flea infestation vigorously and decisively.
Seasonal Considerations for Flea Control
We all know summer is the season when fleas are most abundant, but can your dog catch fleas in winter as well? Believe it or not, the answer to that question is yes. Fleas do best in high humidity and high temperatures. That’s why fleas are more plentiful in the coastal and southern parts of the United States. However, fleas can be found throughout the nation. By the same token, fleas can bite your dog throughout the year. To understand how we’ll have to first understand the life cycle of the persistent flea. First, flea eggs find their way onto your dog’s skin, where they hatch into larvae. As larvae, fleas will avoid any strong light sources. They will crawl into carpet fibers, under sofas, or anywhere else they can live in the dark. Only once they become adults will fleas feel an attraction to light. Grown fleas can live for over 20 days and lay up to 500 eggs. During times of scarcity, a flea can make do with one blood meal per month. If not stopped, just one flea can cause your dog months of periodic flea bites.
Fleas can’t live in temperatures colder than 30 degrees for any length of time. This is the main reason why fleas are less common in the winter. However, fleas have one handy way of staying alive in cold seasons: attaching themselves to animals. Seeing as how dogs typically come inside during wintertime, any parasites carried will find warmth as well. Natural opportunists, fleas can persist in environments that are less than optimal. Once fleas make their way into your home, you’ll need to take action to keep them from reproducing. You can eradicate fleas in the environment through carpet sprays, flea bombs, and electric traps designed specifically for fleas. If you limit yourself to treating your dog’s body, you’re likely going to be dealing with fleas for a very long time.
Types of Flea Treatments for Your Dog
Spot-On and Oral Flea Remedies
The spot-on flea remedy is a treatment you apply right to your dog’s skin. Typically, you part your dog’s hair and apply liquid ointment onto the dog’s neck. Spot-on treatments are generally supposed to clear up your dog’s flea issues in 24 hours at the most. Reportedly, the best flea and tick treatment for dogs orally administered are among the most effective treatments.
Insect Growth Regulator (IGR)
The IGR is the go-to treatment when your dog is reinfected with fleas after successful treatment. Especially if you can’t figure out where or how your dog is catching fleas, the IGR makes a great last-ditch defense. To put it simply, the IGR turns your dog’s own bloodstream into a flea repellant system. Available in tablet form, you simply add the IGR to your dog’s food once every month. Typically, Rover will have no issue with these tasteless tablets.
When a flea bites your dog’s skin, the IGR is ingested by the pest and passed onto its eggs. This prevents the eggs from hatching. This ensures that even if the occasional flea makes it onto your dog, that flea won’t be able to “lay down roots” in your dog or your home. Integrated flea control (IFC) is a term you will commonly see in anti-flea products .
IFC simply refers to a combination of IGR and adulticide, which targets adult fleas roaming over your pup. IFC is held in very high regard by dog care specialists. This is one of the most ingenious types of modern flea control methods.
Flea Prevention Requires Consistent, Long-Term Effort
Generally speaking, you can find very affordable commercial treatments to remove and prevent fleas from your dog, such as the best flea collars and the best flea shampoo for dogs. To treat and prevent fleas, you’ll need to have a consistent, long-term program. If you don’t work to eliminate eggs and larvae, your flea issue may drag on for an inordinately long time. Ideally, you’ll want to use multiple methods to make sure you fully solve the problem. Even after all visible fleas are gone, you’ll want to continue applying remedies. After all, it can take weeks for flea eggs to hatch. After hatching, the next stage in the life cycle begins again.
Killing Fleas Throughout Your Property
If you successfully treat your dog for a winter flea infestation, you’ll have additional work to do when springtime arrives. That’s when you should spray your whole outdoor area with an anti-flea solution. Focus on areas where your dog likes to linger and play. Repeat this procedure about once per month to forestall another flea infestation. Because fleas originate in the outdoors, outdoor preventive measures are vital.
Your Washer and Dryer: Flea Elimination Tools
You may have two crucial flea prevention tools in your home already: your washer and dryer. To make sure fleas are totally eliminated from your home, wash and dry all bedding, clothes, and soft toys in the home. Make sure you set your washer to its hottest and longest cycle. Then set the dryer’s temperature too high. You should wash each load for at least half an hour.
Steam Cleaning for Flea Prevention
Steam cleaning is a good way to clear eggs and larvae from carpeting, floor rugs, and upholstery. You might have to repeat the process more than once in order to fully clear out your flea infestation. You might prefer to let a professional handle this task. If you choose to steam clean your home yourself, exercise caution so you don’t injure yourself. Be meticulous as you move through your home, paying special attention to rough, textured surfaces.
Why You Should Take Flea Infestations Seriously
This entire prevention regimen may sound like a lot of work. Some people might be tempted to cut corners and do the bare minimum to prevent infestation. You might think that if you clear these pests from your dog’s body, you don’t really have to treat your indoor and outdoor environment for fleas. However, there are a number of reasons why you should take a comprehensive approach every time.
First of all, do you really want to risk subjecting your furry friend to another round of bites? Even if you simply solve the problem again, who can quantify the suffering involved in having a flea infestation? Unfortunately, dogs can’t tell us how they feel. However, it must be painful indeed to itch so much that you bite and chew your own skin. Secondly, a flea infestation can prove to be more than an annoyance. People don’t always realize that flea bites can lead to anemia. This is particularly true for smaller dogs and puppies.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need to treat my dog for fleas in the winter?
You need to treat dogs with fleas year-round. You can’t count on the arrival of winter to solve this problem. You should also continue treating your dog if it has had fleas in the recent past.
At what temperature do fleas die inside?
All fleas, larvae, and eggs die in temperatures above 103 degrees Fahrenheit. You can wash and dry all clothes and bedding to eliminate eggs and larvae. You can also steam clean carpets and furniture.
What kills fleas instantly on a dog?
Anti-flea shampoos kill fleas nearly instantly. Baking soda can also kill fleas. If you choose to use baking soda, make sure you work the soda down to your dog’s skin. You can also use coconut oil or vinegar. If you do use vinegar, dilute it with water and avoid your dog’s eyes and nose.
Do fleas die in the winter months?
Outdoor fleas will die if subjected to continuous temperatures of 30 degrees or lower. However, fleas can stay alive year-round if they make their way into your home.