Flea and tick medicine is vital for ensuring your dog does not contract tick-borne diseases or flea infestations. But a lingering question for many dog owners is whether this prevention program should be administered all year long, or just during the warm seasons. One thing everyone agrees on is that prevention is preferable to the treatments that would be required once a disease or infestation has manifested.


The first thing to consider is the type of climate in which you live, as well as the most active times for fleas and ticks in your area. During the deep freeze of Minnesota winters, ticks are inactive so it may not be necessary to continue at least that part of the regimen. However, as we transition into and out of winter, the weather can be mild and ticks can be a danger during those times. Climates vary from region to region, and even within any given region, so it is always best to check with your veterinarian or county offices for flea and tick activity.


Although fleas are not generally active when the weather is cold, your dog may come in contact with another indoor dog that has fleas and the transfer can occur in a very short time. Optimum temperatures for the flea's life cycle are 70 °F to 85 °F and optimum humidity is 70%. The primary goal of an adult flea is to find blood and then reproduce. Its total life span can be as long as one and one-half years under ideal conditions.


Many people are concerned about not giving their dogs a break from flea and tick medication, opting to discontinue preventative treatment at the onset of winter and starting back up in the spring. If you choose to do this, you must stay meticulously informed about weather conditions and understand the life cycle, habitat and taxonomy of fleas and ticks in your region. If you are unsure, or cannot dedicate the time necessary to monitoring these many variables, it is recommended that you keep your dog on a flea and tick prevention program year round.


It is always better to be on the safe side and keep your dog protected from potential diseases and associated problems. Flea and tick medications are both safe and effective, and the cost of treating a tick borne diseases or purging your home of a flea infestation would far exceed the cost of the monthly measures used to prevent this from happening. If you are in the Bloomington or Edina areas of Minnesota, contact Normandale Veterinary Hospital with any questions you may have about this subject, or to ensure the health and well-being of your dog with a proper prevention program.