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Expert Advice on Pet Health and Nutrition

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WebMD Expert Discussion: Do Dogs Need Flea Meds in Winter?

Tired of having to remember to give your dog his flea meds? Want to take a break for the winter?

Don’t, says Will Draper, DVM, a guest expert in the WebMD Caring for Your Pet Community. Fleas may seem less ubiquitous in winter, but they don’t really “disappear.” Adult fleas, larvae, and eggs don’t do well in the cold, but their pupae do…and if your dog has brought fleas into your nice warm house, they’ll survive there all winter just fine.

Draper recommends using one of several heartworm/flea medication combinations now on the market, to make it easier (and more affordable) to remember to give your dog all the monthly protection he needs. These medications also include “flea growth inhibitors” that keep the adult fleas from reproducing -- and their little offspring are 95% of the problem.

He strongly urges pet owners to consult with their vet about which flea and heartworm products to use, because some OTC medications are less safe than what a veterinarian would prescribe.

One reader noted that another reason to keep pets on flea prevention year-round is to prevent tapeworm infection, which many heartworm meds don’t protect against.

Another reader is less concerned about fleas than mosquitoes in her area, where cases of eastern equine encephalitis have been reported. She protects her three dogs against heartworm using a drug called ivermectin, which she had used to treat demodectic mange. Draper reminds readers that the dose of this drug to prevent heartworm is a lot lower than when it’s used to treat mange, so exercise caution.

Discussion led by William Draper, DVM Guest Expert
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Dr. Will opened Georgia’s first accredited small animal emergency room in 2000. He’s been named Best Vet by Atlanta Magazine since 2004... More

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Pet Health and Nutrition Advice

Veterinarian Will Draper gives tips on the best nutrition and health care for your dog or cat.
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