Does My Pet Really Need Flea, Tick and Heartworm Preventives in the Winter?

Old Man Winter will be here before we know it. One benefit of the frigid temps that winter brings, you’d think, would be an end to the fleas, ticks and heartworms that plague our pets during warmer seasons. But, do you really need to keep giving those parasite preventives for pets all year long?

The short answer: Yes. Believe it or not, many of these parasites are still active during the winter months, no matter how cold it may get. And year-round parasite preventives not only help safeguard your pet from disease, but they help protect your family’s health as well.

Frustrating Fleas

Outdoors, fleas can survive in temperatures in the mid-to upper-30 oF range. They can also ride out the winter on dogs and cats huddled next to the skin where it’s warm. Also, the flea eggs that fell into your carpeting and furniture last summer may develop into adult fleas in the temperate environment of your home this winter.

On dogs and cats, fleas can cause uncomfortable itching, especially in pets with flea allergy dermatitis, which results from a severe allergic reaction to flea saliva. And once fleas are in your home, it can take months to get rid of them, and you run the risk of the people in the house getting fleas as well. Because fleas can contain tapeworm larvae, pets can become infected when they accidentally ingest a flea during self-grooming, and children can also contract these tapeworms. Why risk it when monthly preventives can help protect your pet and keep your house from becoming a flea gathering place?

Tenacious Ticks

Contrary to popular belief, ticks don’t die with the first frost. Some are just less active, while others search for a new host during winter thaws when it’s above freezing. Still others can live year-round in homes and kennels.

As the deer and wild turkey populations have expanded across the U.S., they’ve carried ticks with them to more geographic areas. And ticks aren’t just limited to woody areas. Landscaping in our suburbs and cities has attracted coyotes, foxes, raccoons and other wildlife, all of which can carry ticks into the urban areas. Ticks can transmit disease-causing agents to your pets. And ticks are equal-opportunity parasites: they’re happy to share infective organisms with you, too.

Hearty Heartworms

Heartworm disease has been reported in all 50 states of the U.S. This potentially fatal disease affects both dogs and cats and is very preventable. Mosquitoes, which transmit heartworms, can live year-round in many parts of the country. All it takes are a few days of temperatures above 57 degrees Fahrenheit, and the heartworm larvae can develop to the infective stage within the mosquito, ready to be transferred to pets with a single mosquito bite.

These insects can also live indoors and transmit heartworms, even in the winter. In fact, approximately 30 percent of cats that get heartworm disease are described as “strictly indoors” by their owners.

Worrisome Worms

Most heartworm preventives also contain medication to help eliminate intestinal parasites such as roundworms and hookworms. Pets can become infected in the winter if they catch and eat an infected bird or mouse. Some parasite eggs, such as those from roundworms and whipworms, can survive freezing temperatures. If they’ve developed to the infective stage and the ground thaws, they can turn into larvae which pets can pick up from the environment or even at doggie daycare. If that’s not enough to cause worry, many of these intestinal parasites can be spread from pets to people.

While many of us have enjoyed warmer winters in the last few years, one thing’s for sure: Parasites are flourishing in the more temperate weather, too. To help safeguard your pets — and your family — talk to your veterinarian about the parasite risks in your area. He or she can recommend the right preventives to help keep everyone in your home safe and healthy, all year long.


Yes! For several reasons.

Humans may wait for the fall season to enjoy pumpkin-related treats, but one of the many benefits of being a dog is that pumpkin is on the menu all year round! You may see pumpkin flavored treats at the pet store, and for good reason — pumpkin for dogs can be a tasty, nutritious treat. Here’s how.

1. Pumpkin as a Nutrient-Rich Veggie

Pumpkins are chock full of nutrients. They contain loads of vitamin A, respectable amounts of vitamin C, and good quantities of other enriching minerals like potassium. Happily, it’s also low fat and low calorie.

2. Pumpkin as a Weight Loss Aid

Adding an appropriate serving of pumpkin to your dog’s food adds both volume and fiber to their diet. This can help fill them up while you’re trying to slim them down.

3. Pumpkin as Medicine

The fiber in pumpkin can serve to both loosen or tighten your dog’s bowels. It knows what it’s doing, and will magically (aka, scientifically) address whichever issue your dog faces.

4. Pumpkin as an Antioxidant

Pumpkin is rich in antioxidants from the carotenoid family. These carotenoids are very absorbable and sit in your dog’s cell membranes to fight oxidative damage. They’re considered some of the better long-acting antioxidants around.

5. Another Pumpkin Upside

Dogs usually enjoy the taste! So if you’re adding pumpkin to your dog’s diet for medicinal purposes, the sneaky pill-slipping tricks we often employ should not be necessary.


Be aware of what you’re buying when you get canned pumpkin. Spiced mocha chai pumpkin, or banana pumpkin, or pumpkin pie filling, or any of the myriad human pumpkin consumables that also include cinnamon, nutmeg, and other spices are not good for dogs.

Give your dog plain old canned pumpkin, or plain cooked pumpkin pulp. Always check the ingredients if you’re not sure.

Understanding the Risks and Benefits Associated with Microchipping your Pet by Examining the Top Five Fictions about Chips.

Fiction 1: Microchips are difficult to implant and can harm my pet.

Fact: Microchips are about the size of a grain of rice and are safely implanted like a vaccine is administered, by a needle in a fold of skin. For most pets, the discomfort is also like that of receiving a vaccine: mild and short-term. Since microchips never have to be replaced, it’s a quick, one-time shot. Plus, microchips are made of a biocompatible material that doesn’t cause allergic reactions. In the past, microchips ran the risk of migrating to another part of your pet’s body—but that’s no longer the case because of anti-migration technology added to the chips.

Fiction 2: Indoor cats don’t need microchips

Fact: Yes, they do! Even if you’re diligent about keeping your cat safely tucked inside, repairmen or visiting guests may not be as careful. Many indoor cats don’t wear collars with identification tags either. If your indoor pet slips out, having that microchip could bring her back home.

Fiction 3: Microchips are very expensive.

Fact: The average cost of a vet-implanted chip is $45, which includes registering your pet in the service’s database. However, if that cost seems prohibitive, keep an eye on your local shelter; many offer low-cost microchip services periodically.

Fiction 4: Microchips provide your pet with GPS-style tracking.

Fact: The microchip must be scanned in order for it to work. Microchips aren’t GPS technology; they’re Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology. That means it doesn’t require a battery because it only works when it’s scanned—and draws the power needed to provide the scanner with the number from the scanner. Almost all shelters and vets offices in the U.S. have a microchip scanner on hand, and most are universal scanners, which means they can read numbers from just about any brand of chip.

Fiction 5: My pet’s collar tags will be enough to get him safely home.

Fact: A collar with up-to-date ID tags is important, of course. But, collars fall off and tags become indecipherable over time. While an ID tag is a critical first line of defense when your pet is lost, a microchip can’t get lost, fall off, or become unreadable.

The bottom line: A microchip’s benefits outweigh the drawbacks, many of which are unsubstantiated worries. Get your pet chipped, and keep the information updated. It’s the most reliable way to keep identifying information with your pet at all times, which significantly increases the chances that your furball will be reunited with you.

TWO WEEK SHUT DOWN “The First Two Weeks – Give’em a Break!”


If I could stress one of the biggest errors people make with new dogs and foster dogs it is rushing the dog into the new world so fast . This shut down gives the dog a chance to say “ahhh” take a breath and restart into its new world.

Ok, folks, here it comes, some feel this is extreme, why? I really do not know.

But when bringing in a new dog, give it time to adjust to you and your family and the dogs in the new environment. Just as if it were a new baby or puppy, we wouldn’t think of rushing out with a baby or puppy, yet with older pups and dogs we just expect them to take our lives in all at once!

For the first two weeks, (sometimes even longer) a dog takes in the new environment, who is the top person, or animal, who ARE these people!? By pushing a dog too fast, and throwing too much at the dog we lose our position as leaders, and the dog can feel it MUST defend itself !

We coo, cuddle, drag the dog from home to home to person to person, and the dog has NO idea who we are. Would you want to get in the car with a stranger ad not know where you are going?

We correct for things it doesn’t understand, we talk in a new human language using words he does not know.

A key thing to remember is “this is the dating period NOT the honeymoon” When you first met your “spouse or significant other”, you were on your best behavior, you were not relaxed enough to be yourself, were you? Just think of the things you do physically once you get to KNOW a person, you wouldn’t run up to a stranger and hug them and squeeze them! Imagine, if on the first date, this new person, was all over you touching you and having their friends hug you and pat you on the head, and jostle your shoulders, looked in your mouth then whisked you off to another strangers home and they did the same thing.

Would you think this person normal and SAFE? Wouldn’t you feel invaded and begin to get a bit snarky or defensive yourself? Wouldn’t you think to push these people away!! Yet we do this very thing to our dogs, and then get upset or worried that they aren’t relaxed and accepting of EVERYTHING instantly!

By shutting down the dog, it gives the dog TIME to see you , meet YOU, hear and take in the new sounds and smells of your home and all the people in it. In the 1st two weeks;

Crate the dog in a room by itself if possible. (Believe me, dogs are sensory animals, they know more than you think without seeing it).

Leash the dog, give it exercise time in the yard on line or in fenced yard..but other than that.. LEASH , (yes..leash in the house too.) Do no training at all, just fun exercise and maybe throw some toys for fun, leash the dog if you don’t have a fence outside. But DO NOT leave the yard, AT ALL.

No car rides, no other dogs, (unless crated beside them), no pet stores, no WALKS even, nothing but you and household family, your home, your yard. (Unless of course the dog needs to go to the vetinarian)

Believe me dogs can live two weeks without walks. Walks are stressful since there is so much coming at you and your dog! And your dog has no clue who you are yet. Your dog may react to something and we start correcting it with the leash and we just installed a VERY STRESSFUL moment to the dog that should be a fun and learning walk.

TEACH the dog by doing the shut down, that YOU are the one to look to, that you are now here for the dog! He can trust in you and look to you for guidance. Then you can venture out into new situations one at a time, the dog knows he can trust in his new humans and can relax under the fair guidance of his new leaders!

In the house take the dog out only for about 20-30 minute intervals , post excercise/yard times, and ALWAYS on a leash when in the house or in an unfenced yard. Exercise is important! Running and free time are stress relievers, but don’t set your dog up for failure, make exercise and yard time fun and relaxing and tiring!

Then PUT THE DOG AWAY. Let it absorb and think and relax. Ignore crying or barking, just like a newborn baby, he must find security when you are not right there, and if you run to him each time he will think barking and crying will get your attention.

Do not introduce resident dogs for these two weeks, they can be side by side in the crates, (not nose to nose for they can feel defensive) . Some dogs will bond instantly with the other dogs if we don’t bond FIRST with the dog, and this can lead to some other issues, as the dog will look to the other dog(s) for guidance and not YOU!

Literally in two weeks you will see a change in the dog and begin to see its honest and true personality.

Just like a house guest…they are well behaved these first few weeks, then they relax and the true personality begins to shine thru.

So, please, if nothing else for your new dog, give it the time to LEARN YOU as you are learning who they are! This method works on shy dogs, confident dogs, abuse cases, chained dogs that come in, rowdy dogs, all temperaments!

So, you just brought home a new dog! What should you expect?

The Rule of 3

The common milestones your new dog or puppy will go through will be the first 3 days after bringing your dog home from the shelter, then 3 weeks, then 3 months. If you’ve ever started a new job or moved to a new school, you should know this feeling. The feeling of being in an unfamiliar place, new surroundings, new people, new rules

You can expect that it will take your dog some time getting used to the new routines and adapt to his new environment. The ‘Rule of Three’ means that you can gauge the time it might take for your dog to fully acclimate to his home in threes: three days, three weeks, and three months.

At 3 days… The first 3 days are the initial “detox period” as the dog transitions from the shelter to your home. Your home is new and exciting, with more stimulating activity and space and freedom than a shelter can ever provide. It can be overwhelming for many dogs, especially those who have been in the shelter for weeks. Your new dog may sleep a lot in those first few days or – more likely – he may be so amped up on excitement that he is easily aroused and difficult to settle down. He will want to check out all the new smells and investigate his new digs. He won’t know what you expect from him, where to go potty, or whether he’s allowed on the furniture; he won’t know that your shoe is not actually a chew toy, or that the kitchen trash is not where he is supposed to find his dinner. These first few days require an immense amount of patience on your part. Take a deep breath and remember that your home is like Disneyland for a shelter dog. He will settle in to your routine if you give him time and patience. It won’t happen overnight, and he will probably still need to attend positive-reinforcement training classes to help him learn better manners, but take comfort in knowing that it gets better!

At 3 weeks… After 3 weeks, your dog is probably getting used to your comings and goings, learning the daily routine, and starting to figure out when the next meal is coming. He’ll learn that you walk at the same time every morning, and that he gets to go out for regular potty breaks. You’ll start to see more of his true personality and less of his initial response – whether that was fear, excitement, stress or a combination of all three. You will have narrowed down his behavior problems (if any) to the ones that are likely to remain unless you attend training classes or get help from a dog training professional. It won’t be completely smooth sailing, but the bumps in the road will be less frequent and less stressful.

At 3 months… At 3 months, most dogs know they are “home.” It’s a process to get there, but with patience and a sense of humor, the two of you can scale the mountain together and enjoy the journey toward a great relationship.