Can Dogs Get Fleas in the Winter?

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The short answer is: Yes!

Cold weather and snow don’t even give us relief from fleas. As lovely as it would be to be rid of fleas in the cold weather, it’s just not the way it works.

Recently, my husband asked if our dogs could get fleas in the winter.

The subject came up due to Mira’s most recent failed friendship with a squirrel.

I reassured him that Mira had recently gotten her Bravecto (see our Bravecto review), so we had little to worry about.

However, I told my husband that fleas could still be an issue in the winter, especially if our dogs come in contact with critters because fleas find squirrels more than a habitable host in the winter.

Related: Best Insulated Dog Houses for Cold Weather

Do Fleas Die in the Winter?

Fleas are tenacious and always seem to find a way to live, even in hostile environments. What helps their survival is the flea lifecycle.

Larvae and eggs can survive in their immature state for extended periods, even in cooler temperatures.

Cocoons can retain this state for up to 30-weeks as long as the environment is at least 51.8⁰ F[1].

Fleas are very hearty and can survive in colder temperatures, but once temperatures reach 46.4⁰ F[2], unprotected fleas will die within 20 days of continuous exposure to these colder temperatures.

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As temperatures continue to drop to 37.4⁰ or below, a flea’s life is cut down to 10 days.

But once winter is in full swing and temperatures drop to 32⁰ and lower, a flea can only survive for up to 5 days.

But if fleas can find shelter, such as in a house, garage, under a shed, in an animal’s den, or on an animal, fleas can survive if not thrive.

Squirrels can carry fleas in the winter woodpiles warm safe spots

Related: How Cold is Too Cold to Walk Your Dog?

Can  Dogs Get Fleas in the Winter?

Dogs can pick up fleas in numerous ways outside in the winter, especially if you have an energetic hunting dog like Mira.

Mira tends to protect our yard from critters. Unfortunately, Mira’s protection techniques tend to bring her into direct contact with rodents and the like, which is how fleas can easily find their way onto a dog.

However, there are other ways dogs can pick up fleas outside, such as:

  • Sniffing around woodpiles
  • Coming into contact with shrubs, leaves, or other dark areas fleas can find shelter
  • Tall grassy areas

And the outdoors is not the only place our dogs can come into contact with fleas.

Immature fleas can exist for more than 7 months in the right conditions, like inside your home.

Dogs can pick up fleas in the house just as easily as outside. Immature fleas, like larvae and eggs, especially enjoy hanging out in carpets, furniture, along baseboards, and in your vehicle.

Plus, if your pup is a lucky dog, they get to go to daycare, which can also be a sanctuary for fleas.

Unfortunately, dogs can even get fleas from you.

Though humans are not the preferred host, fleas will happily catch a ride on you so they can get to your dog.

Vets Best Flea Tick Home Spray helps control indoor fleas in the winter

Things You Should Know About Getting Rid of Fleas

Dealing with a flea infestation is more than just a flea bath; it can take months to eradicate fleas from your home.

If you only treat the fleas on your dog and not your home, vehicle, and yard, your dog will continue to get fleas.

Many products can aid in ridding fleas from your life, including preventatives products like Frontline (our Frontline review) and NexGard (our Nexgard Review).

Most preventative flea medication works to deal with existing fleas as well as preventing future flea issues.

However, shampoos and oral medications such as Capstar can be excellent options as well.

Be sure to treat your dog and home at the same time to avoid a re-infestation.

There are few different options for treating your home:

Also, because flea larvae can exist for a long time, it is imperative to practice preventative measures.

Dogs can get fleas in the winter how to prevent infestation

Related: How to Keep a Dog House Warm in the Winter

An Ounce of Prevention…

Getting rid of fleas is hard; preventing them is easy.

Flea preventative options are available in a multitude of forms such as:

Not only is it monumentally more work to be reactive to a flea infestation, but it is also equally as expensive.

According to recent findings[3], treating your home for fleas will costs between $75-$400 for the initial inspection and treatment plus another $75-$200 for follow-up treatments.

You can count on at least 1-2 follow-ups.

And those prices do not include the cost of treating your pup, either.

FAQs

Do I Need to Treat My Dog for Fleas in the Winter?

Yes, using flea preventatives in the winter is the best way to avoid a flea infestation.

Are Fleas Active during the Winter?

Yes. Though they are slower, they are still active.

At What Temperature Do Fleas Die Inside?

Immature fleas start to feel adverse effects when temps get to 55.4⁰ Fahrenheit, and adult fleas are affected at 46.4⁰ Fahrenheit.

How Do You Get Rid of Fleas in the Winter?

Getting rid of fleas in the winter is similar to getting rid of them during warmer weather: Pills, shampoos, and a lot of cleaning.

Do Dogs Need a Flea Collar in the Winter?

Yes. Dogs need flea protection all year round.

Resources

  1. https://www.petmd.com/dog/parasites/do-fleas-survive-winter
  2. https://tickkillz.com/2017/10/09/as-temperatures-decrease-do-fleas-remain-an-issue/
  3. https://www.homeadvisor.com/cost/environmental-safety/flea-exterminator/
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