How to keep fleas off your dog in winter

Monday, 5 February 2018  |  Kate

When the weather gets colder the phones at My Itchy Dog start to ring off the hook because all of a sudden our customer’s dogs have fleas. From flea free to beating them off with a stick within a week.

Why your dog get fleas even in winter

When autumn and winter come we batten down the hatches. We crank up the central heating, wrap up in blankets on the sofa, the cat comes in after spending the summer draped on the garden shed roof, and we lock the doors until spring.

This environment is perfect for fleas who like to party. Here’s why:

1. Cats give fleas to dogs

If the cat has been outdoors most of the summer and now is settled on your sofa for the duration any fleas he has are now crossing over onto your dog.

Most of the fleas you’ll find on dogs are in fact cat fleas which have flatter heads making it easier for them to race through your dog’s hair and find the best spot for a feed.

Those fleas are also laying eggs, which accounts for the next reason your dog gets fleas in winter.

2. You have dormant fleas in your home waiting to pounce

The fleas your dog is getting now may well be from the flea pupae which has been lying dormant in cracks in the floor since spring. It really doesn’t matter how house proud you are either. Flea pupae are tiny, there will be thousands of them, and they’re very good at hiding.

The way it works is fleas lay eggs on their host and after 2-7 days the eggs hatch and are now larvae. When your dog stands up the larvae drop off and seek shelter away from the light, preferably in a crack in the floor where they spend a couple of weeks feeding. They then spin themselves into a cocoon, which now makes them flea pupae, then settle down for a good long sleep in nooks and crannies around the house.

Pupae wait for the optimum time to hatch (autumn, winter) giving them the best chance of jumping onto a host (your dog or cat) and living the flea dream – feeding on your dog’s blood, breeding and making more fleas.

3. Foxes pass on fleas too – keep your garden free of them 

As winter drags on and food becomes scarce foxes will gravitate towards any home or garden they can find food in. Fox fleas will lay eggs too, the fox will shake them off to be picked up by our pets and brought inside (as if you didn’t have enough going on).

Keep your bins firmly closed, wrap up food waste before you take it outside and even better store your bins out of the garden if at all possible. Don’t leave water or dog treats in the garden either. Plenty of people do, send the foxes somewhere else.

How to keep those fleas out of the house

It’s actually not that hard to get rid of fleas in all their stages of reproduction. If you can, plan ahead a little and give your home an autumn clean before everyone comes in for the duration. Follow the simple tips below and get a routine going.

Have a really good hoover up:

  • Put diatomaceous earth on the floors and sweep it into all the nooks and crannies. Leave it down for 24 hours then hoover up. This will kill any dormant flea pupae and larvae and seriously cut down the numbers of fleas waiting to hatch. It works by dehydrating them to death, nasty but effective. Do it again a few days later, and once or twice over winter. Use food grade diatomaceous earth and it won’t harm your pets if they lick it up.
  • Hoover all your soft furnishings (sprinkle DE on here too if you can keep off it overnight), and mattresses. Then empty the hoover straight into the bin outside.

Wash, and spray:

  • Blankets and bedding – wash any dog bedding and blankets on as high a setting as they will allow then spray daily with Skinny Spray. Just a spritz or two, on blakets, bedding and the dog (not the cat, too many essential oils). Skinny Spray kills fleas, ticks and mites so any eggs which drop off won’t survive being shaken off into bedding. Wash blankets and beds regularly too. Mine get done once a week.

Treat your dog and cat for fleas:

  • Give your dog Billy No Mates flea repellent in her food every day. Billy No Mates kills fleas, ticks and mites on dogs and gives them an amazing coat into the bargain. It’s great for dogs who love water as it can’t be washed off.
  • Feed either the dry mix or the tincture. This can be fed all year but we recommend taking a break when it gets really cold. This is to prevent your dog becoming resistant to it. Stop feeding it for a few weeks and protect with Skinny Spray, and Skinny Shampoo if you wash your dog, while they’re off it. 
  • Cats can also be fed the Billy No Mates Tincture if they’ll tolerate it. Otherwise you can put pure, organic Ekoneem neem oil directly onto their fur, in the same place you would put a spot-on flea treatment. Cat’s should never be treated with essential oils as they can ingest them when they clean themselves. Neem isn’t an essential oil and it’s applied out of reach. The neem will keep fleas, ticks and mites off your cat. Apply once a week. It doesn’t smell great but it does work.

And spring will be here before you know it.

Keep the floors hoovered, wash blankets and bedding, spray daily and feed Billy No Mates. And roll on spring!