Does heartworm prevention and flea prevention need to be given year-round?

One of the most frequently asked questions that many veterinarians get is whether heartworm and flea prevention should be used year-round. The resounding answer is, "Yes." Regular flea and heartworm prevention are essential for keeping your dog healthy and happy. Read on to learn more.

Fleas Pose a Year-Round Threat

Contrary to popular belief, fleas aren't a seasonal pest. While freezing temperatures can kill fleas, it often isn't enough to eliminate the problem altogether. These perennial pests have found ways to survive in even the chilliest climates.

One of the most common ways that fleas survive in cold weather is by living on wild animals such as raccoons to stay warm. These animals unknowingly host numerous flea eggs, waiting to boom again when temperatures warm. Barns, garages, outdoor kennel bedding, nooks underneath decks and home foundations are also popular places for fleas to hide during the cold.

Heartworm Disease on the Rise

Testing positive for heartworms is a diagnosis that no pet parent wants to hear. Unfortunately, the disease is found in all 50 states and is currently on the rise. Some of the increased risks for infection can be attributed to:

  • More and more people are traveling with their dogs, particularly to and from areas with heavy mosquito populations, like the southern United States.
  • Mosquito populations are increasing with environmental shifts such as increasing temperatures.
  • Fewer dogs are receiving monthly heartworm preventive medicines.

Caused by the deadly parasites that it's named for, heartworm disease can be transmitted by a single bite from a mosquito. There are often no outward signs of the disease until it is in the advanced stages. The resulting treatment to cure heartworm disease can be costly and, in some cases, the disease proves deadly. 

Fortunately, monthly heartworm preventives combined with regular testing are easy ways to protect your dog's health.   

Talk to your veterinarian to develop a flea and heartworm prevention plan that works for you and your precious pup.