Hey there! If you look closely at the picture above you’ll notice that we are holding a pet food drive! The food will be donated to Lost Paws. Lost Paws is a local organization that helps find and rescue pets that have been lost. They recently helped our own technician, Liz, track down and catch her dog Ellie!
Now that the weather is cold and there is snow on the ground there are those that have stopped using flea/tick, heartworm, and intestinal parasite preventions. Is there any benefit to using it year round? Yes!
We, at Family Friends, recommend heartworm, intestinal parasite, flea and tick prevention YEAR ROUND.
Before going into the winter lifestyles of common internal and external parasites, let me introduce (or reintroduce) you to the preventatives we carry….
Revolution (topical, dogs) treats Heartworm, Fleas, Ear Mites, Sarcoptes Mange, American Dog Ticks, Hookworms, Roundworms, Whipworms, and Tapeworms
Revolution (topical, cats) treats Fleas, Heartworm, Ear Mites, Roundworms, and Hookworms
Trifexis (chewable, dogs) treats Heartworm, Fleas, adult Hookworms, adult Roundworms, and adult Whipworms
Interceptor Plus (chewable, dogs) treats Heartworm, adult Roundworms, adult Hookworms, adult Whipworms, and adult Tapeworms
Interceptor (chewable, pregnant and/or lactating dogs) treats Heartworm, Roundworms, Hookworms, and Whipworms
Bravecto (chewable, dogs) treats Fleas, Black-Legged Ticks, American Dog Ticks, Brown Dog Ticks, and Lone Star Ticks
Bravecto (topical, cats) treats Fleas, Black-Legged Ticks, and American Dog Ticks.
Vectra (topical, dogs) treats Mosquitoes, Fleas, Ticks, Biting Flies, Lice, and Mites
Nexgard (chewable, dogs) treats Fleas, Black-Legged Ticks, American Dog Ticks, Lone Star Ticks, and Brown Dog Ticks
Simparica treats Fleas, Lone Star Ticks, Gulf Coast Ticks, American Dog Ticks, Black-Legged Ticks, and Brown Dog Ticks
As you may have noticed by the products we use, some of the most common intestinal parasites are Roundworms, Whipworms, Hookworms, and Tapeworms. The other two most common parasites we see are Coccidia and Giardia. Unfortunately, these are not covered by any preventative products. These intestinal parasites can however be detected in a stool sample check and are easily treatable with medications.
So now you know which ones we see the most, but do we see them in the winter? Should we treat for them in the winter?
Roundworms eggs are highly resistant and live for a long time within the environment. This means they may not be active in the freezing cold but any change in temperature can wake them up.
Whipworms are also extremely resistant in the environment and can survive 4-5 years, living year round.
Hookworm eggs can only develop into infective larvae above 60° F, so primarily warmer months.
Tapeworm eggs die in the cold weather but mice can carry tapeworm year round which means if your dog eats a mouse, they can be infected.
Giardia cysts are found in moist, cold environments and it is possible to be infected during the winter.
Coccidia live in feces and can be seen year round.
How about the external parasites (the ones that don’t live in the GI system)?
Heartworms are unlikely to be found in areas or seasons where the temperature does not average over 65°F consistently. Heartworm disease is transmitted by infected mosquitoes. Mosquitoes do hibernate when the temperature is lower then 50°F. Their eggs keep until the temperatures rise, and they can hatch. So if the weather becomes unexpectedly warm during winter they can hatch.
Fleas are seasonal, so they do not live OUTSIDE during the cold weather. They can however, live INSIDE during the winter. Fleas can also carry tapeworms.
Ticks can also be seen during the winter… kind of. Depending on the species and stage in their life cycle, ticks survive the winter months by hibernating or latching onto a host. The American Dog Tick and Lone Star Tick are not typically active during the fall and winter months. Blacklegged ticks, which carry Lyme disease, are active as long as the temperature is above freezing (32°F). If one has attached to a host, you can find it at any point during the winter.
In the end, yes, you can find parasites in the winter. You can also find fleas and possibly even ticks. Due to this, we do recommend prevention year round.
Clinical Veterinary Advisor: Dogs and Cats by Etienne Cote