Let’s dig into this a bit. El Niño has definitely made some unusual weather! In the central part of the country — where we live — we are used to freezing temperatures and snow in November and December. This year has been pleasantly comfortable, and we love it. However, the insects like the weather as well.
Let’s talk about fleas and ticks first. For anyone who spent the end of the summer fighting fleas, your battle may not yet be over! You may still be fighting fleas as it has not stayed cold for very long. Continue those tricks you’ve been doing to keep the fleas at bay – continue to vacuum, clean your pet’s bedding more frequently, and keep using flea control it – regardless of the method you use.
Ticks are another issue – moderate winters provide ideal temperature for ticks survival. Because wildlife are moving around, so are ticks. Ticks carry Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and other dangerous diseases to pets and animals – therefore it may be wise to continue tick prevention.
Heartworms are another story. Temperatures need to be over 57° for two weeks in a row for heartworms to be transmitted by mosquitoes. We have had a period of freezing already, and freezing temperatures are due to return this coming weekend. While we did have 60° weather the last weekend, this is not enough, in the central part of the United States, to cause heartworm infection. However, if we lived further south, heartworms would be a year-round concern.
As a reminder, heartworm prevention is not really a preventative. The medication actually kills any exposure your dog or cat may have experienced in the prior 30 days. What this means is an infected mosquito will bite and pass the larvae of the heartworms to the dog or the cat, the larvae swim around in the blood for 30 days until the heartworm prevention kills those larvae.
Stick with your flea and tick control. As of right now, weekend freezing temperatures will kill mosquitoes carrying heartworms, in the central US this season. Next year? Who knows. Better to be safe than sorry!