What is the right time of year to start anti-parasite treatments against ticks and fleas for our dogs and cats?
The answer is only one: pesticides should be used all year round, even in winter!
The most widespread belief is that which leads dog and cat owners to discontinue the use of flea and tick protection products during the coldest periods of the year. In fact, it is thought that these dangerous and unwanted guests of our pets disappear during the winter… but it is not so!
Ticks even in winter?
Unfortunately, during the winter, all three stages of ticks can be found I. scapularis (larvae, nymph and adult).
Although low winter temperatures are stressful, these parasites adopt an important behavioral strategy to survive, which is to burrow in the litter or seek an isolated and more humid environment. Ticks that overwinter under the litter can withstand air temperatures well below 0 ° C.
Our warm homes in winter therefore become their perfect habitat! In addition, the lack of application of protective products makes our animal friends attractive prey for these unwelcome guests.
How to deal with parasites in cats and dogs in winter
Pay attention tohygiene of our dogs and cats can help avoid the presence of parasites. A good practice may be to use hair and skin care products and regular grooming.
Furthermore, we always observe our pet: dermatitis, itching, hair loss, skin infections, can be an alarm bell. Checking the skin, the back of the ears, the neck and the tail can allow us to intervene promptly.
It is certainly useful to make periodic visits from the veterinarian, which in addition to ascertaining the state of health of our animal, can give us indications on how to manage any infestations.
Attention also to the contagion which may come from other animals! In fact, it cannot be ruled out that other four legs transmit fleas and ticks to us during games or contacts in the park.
A conscious choice
Let's not forget that parasites represent a dangerous pitfall for our animals, but the use of chemicals is no exception. For this reason it is very important choose well what to buy.
I products based on plant extracts they can be the right option if, in addition to protecting our furry friends, we want to make a conscious choice for their safety, ours and that of the environment. Deciding to avoid the use of products that can protect our four-legged friend from parasites without creating health problems can really make a difference. But it becomes essential to always take care of the litter with plant extracts, making it unlivable ticks, forcing them to expend energy to move away from the treated litter during the winter.
This greatly reduces wintering survival because ticks will not only be forced to consume scarce reserves, but will also be more vulnerable to predation, freezing and drying out when searching for a new suitable place for wintering.
Natural products also allow us to be able to stay in contact with our furry immediately after their application, which can make us feel safe even in the presence of children or people more sensitive to aggressive substances.
A study published in July 2022 ("Adamo, SA, El Nabbout, A., Ferguson, LV et al. Balsam fir (Abies balsamea) needles and their essential oil kill overwintering ticks (Ixodes scapularis) at cold temperatures. Sci Rep 12, 12999 (2022)) has also shown that "it is possible to increase the effectiveness of essential oils by applying them during the winter season, when temperatures are low. Indeed, essential oils have a greater persistence at more temperatures basse, making them palatable for use during the colder months.”
In conclusion, preferring products with plant extracts and not suspending their application throughout the year, could be the most effective and safe solution to protect our pets.
The importance of prevention
Let us remember that it is better to use a pesticide as a prevention rather than a curative. Not putting a product for protection when our dog or cat does not have fleas or ticks, means not taking precautions to avoid the negative consequences that can have on his health. The only concession we can afford in the months farthest from spring and summer is that they can lengthen the time a little between one application and another of pesticide products.