About 10 years ago, the answer was: when the first frost hits, you are good until next spring. Conditions have changed. More pets, increased use of the same product year after year after year (for the last 10 years); things have definitely changed! I now see flea infestations in the winter – these are either outside pets or inside ones and the owner doesn’t get bitten by fleas so doesn’t see the fleas.
So, here’s what I suggest these days:
If your pet(s) are the only ones in your yard, no strays, no neighbor dogs walking by, no wildlife dropping off fleas, then you are probably good after the first hard frost. But, if you have stray animals traveling around, all bets are off. I put flea prevention on the neighbors barn cats because I feed them and he houses them, so really, they are mine (we’re out in the country, you know) and they just shack up in his barn. Obviously, if we lived where it doesn’t freeze, or it freezes once every 6 years, we’d need to use flea prevention year-round. I suggest using flea prevention a month into winter and base the rest of the winter on what the weather looks like. Last year, infested pets came to the clinic all year long.
Now, it’s my desire not to need to use flea medication at all. Some dogs have flea allergies – one bite and she’s a hot spot – the whole dog! That dog can’t afford fleas. There are a ton of things we can do to minimize the effect of allergies, but too much of anything can send anyone over the top. There are still some clients who are sheltered enough where they live that application of flea prevention every 60-90 days works, but not for many.
If fleas are causing a problem in your household, you might want to switch products. BUT, I do NOT mean to use over the counter products – I must see a pet a week with toxicity from these products!! Half of the animals die from these unregulated poisons!!! Talk to your veterinarian – there are new products, there are different products to control fleas.