Fleas and ticks are still a threat in cold winter months, so be sure your clients are informed.
In warmer weather, fleas and ticks can make your clients hopping mad and determined to get their cats and dogs on preventives. But when the weather cools off, so does client awareness—and client compliance with year-round treatment. In some parts of the country, that can be bad for a number of reasons, says Dr. Ernest Ward Jr., Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board member and owner of Seaside Animal Clinic in Calabash, N.C.
First, Dr. Ward says, clients need to keep the pet's home environment free of parasites year-round. If pets are groomed or boarded, that's an opportunity for them to come in contact with other dogs and cats with parasites. Year-round prevention helps ensure pets won't bring infestations home with them. "We emphasize to clients that this is about maintaining and preserving a parasite-free home environment," Dr. Ward says.
Second, many states are prone to sudden changes in weather. A chilly week in February may give way suddenly to parasite-friendly temperatures the next week. That can be enough time for cats and dogs to pick up fleas and ticks during trips outside. "That brief burst of warmer weather gets that flea to leave its protective pupa stage and emerge as an adult," Dr. Ward explains to clients. "For clients who haven't given their pets good flea preventives year-round, that can lead to an infestation."
Year-round flea and tick prevention is the gold standard these days, but cold weather and no visible outbreaks—yet—can fool clients into thinking it's not necessary. "In May, we'll see cats loaded with fleas," he says. "Those clients tell us, 'Yeah, we laid off the flea preventive in the cooler months.'"