Yearlong Parasite Awareness

As the summer season draws to a close, many pet owners sigh with relief. Soon enough, they won’t have to worry about buying parasite prevention because the fleas and ticks won’t be a problem—or will they?

Unfortunately, your pet can pick up ectoparasites such as fleas and ticks year-round! Fleas especially can be a problem as it is very easy to get an infestation and very difficult to get rid of it—it can take a minimum of three months! The issue lies with the flea life cycle: the female flea lays her eggs, which fall off of your pet and into the environment. The eggs hatch into larvae between 2-14 days, and the larvae develop into pupae 5-14 days later. The pupae can sit in the environment anywhere from one week to several months! The pupae moult into adult fleas with an environmental stimulus such as vibrations from people and pets walking around. As such, any good flea treatment protocol requires months of treatment with medication as well as a thorough cleaning of the household.

How can your pet get fleas if they don’t go outside?

Fleas can come inside on any animal! Pets in apartments are especially vulnerable to flea infestation. They should be on year-round flea treatment because there are so many other animals coming in and out of the building. Additionally, if you have any animals that go outdoors, any animal in the household, regardless of whether they are indoor or outdoor, should be on flea prevention. It is very common for a cat not on prevention to get fleas when their dog companion brings them into the house.

The other major ectoparasite people worry about are ticks and with good reason. Ticks carry many diseases and aren’t picky about where they get their next meal. They are mostly found in rural areas with long grass; however, with increasing temperatures, we see more in urban areas.

Ticks engage in a behaviour called questing when they are looking for their next meal. They climb to the top of a long piece of grass and wait for a person or animal to brush by and then climb on. Doing a thorough tick check on yourself as well as your animals and children is a very important part of tick prevention. Having your cat or dog on tick-prevention medication is also a very important part of the equation. Ticks can be very difficult to find on our furry friends, and tick medication will kill any you may have missed. Year-round prevention is important because ticks are active as soon as the temperature is 0°C or higher. Additionally, they remain active for 7-10 days after the temperature drops. If you live in an area where temperatures fluctuate frequently, this means an increased risk of a tick infestation.

Hopefully, this information has been useful and has helped you understand why we are recommending parasite prevention year-round. Fleas and ticks can present a problem in any season, but with proper management, we can decrease the prevalence of these issues, and everyone can enjoy a parasite-free year round!

Written by: Kayla, RVT