Do fleas die in the winter? Fleas. Amazing how such a small word can inspire fear in the hearts of any pet parent. If you’ve ever had to battle a flea infestation, you know just how resistant and resilient these itchy little pests can be. But is there a colder time of year when fleas mysteriously vanish for a while? Fleas survive all year around, but if they are below freezing for several days they can start to deplete. But that’s unlikely to be the case temperature wise in your heated home! Today we’ll look at what happens to dog fleas in different climates, and why it’s important to flea treat your dog regularly, even in the cold months. We’ll walk you through exactly what you need to know about fleas in winter, so you can keep your pet safe and your home flea-free.
Do Fleas Die In The Winter Chills?
So do fleas die in winter when temperatures drop? The answer here is it depends. Depends on what, you might ask? It depends on the temperature and the life stage of the flea. Fleas are most vulnerable to cold temperatures when they are in the adult life stage. But even then, temperatures need to be at freezing or below and stay there for several consecutive days before the fleas will start to die.
Of course, this is only valid if the fleas we are talking about are living outdoors. If the fleas are living inside your house with you, it will be nice and warm and cozy in there and they will survive just fine all winter long.
Understanding the Flea Life Cycle
To really understand why even cold temperatures often are not enough to kill fleas, it helps to understand the four stages of the flea life cycle. Adult fleas are the least resistant to cold temperatures. But what are the other three stages of the flea life cycle and can cold weather kill fleas in these stages of life as well?
The flea has four life stages: egg, larva, pupa, adult. Each life stage has different vulnerabilities if you are trying to rid your home and your pet of fleas. Adult fleas must have a blood meal before they can mate and lay eggs. But within two days of a blood meal, the female adult flea will lay 20 to 40 eggs every single day for several days in a row!
Do Flea Eggs Die In The Winter?
Flea eggs hatch in about a week, producing larvae. The larvae exist only to eat. They will eat and eat and eat for up to 20 days before entering the pupa stage. Here is where the really bad news comes in.
Cocooned pupae are so resilient they can survive up to 100 days without any food at all. Only when the pupa senses the presence of a blood meal – usually through the vibrations of nearby movement or nearby warmth – will it hatch and begin the flea life cycle all over again.
So this is why it can take multiple weeks or even months to rid your home of fleas. At any given point you may have fleas in all four life stages living under your roof (and on your dog or cat).
Do Fleas Die In The Winter When It’s Below Freezing?
Can cats and dogs still get fleas in winter? You are not going to like the answer. Yes, cats and dogs can still get fleas when it is cold outside. Fleas prefer temperatures between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit (18 and 26 degrees Celsius). However, fleas living outdoors in winter can readily survive several back-to-back days of below-freezing temperatures before finally succumbing.
In part, this is because fleas will take shelter in warmer areas like attics, crawl spaces, garages and porches or bury themselves in an animal’s coat to wait until the cold front passes. And inside the average home, temperatures are typically in the ideal temperature range for a flea year-round. This can make it even more labor-intensive to rid your home of fleas.
Does My Dog Need Flea Treatment In The Winter?
Many an unsuspecting cat or dog parent has discovered to their dismay that it is not smart to stop pet flea treatments in winter. No flea in their right mind would pass up a chance to ride out the chilly winter buried in your cat or dog’s fur coat….or in your carpet or between your floorboards for that matter.
And because fleas breed so readily and prolifically, just one single flea can quickly multiply into hundreds. For this reason, veterinarians strongly advise against stopping your cat or dog’s flea treatment during the winter.
What To Do If Your Pet Gets Fleas In The Winter
There is no good time to discover your pet has fleas. And now you know that the time of year or weather season likely isn’t going to help you out when it comes to ridding your warm winter home of a flea infestation. So what should you do first and next if your pet gets fleas in winter?
First, it is important to treat your pet before you take any other action to treat your home. This is because animals are the flea’s preferred host. As long as your pet is available as a host, you won’t be able to do much to remove fleas elsewhere in your home.
Your veterinarian can advise the best course of rapid treatment to use with your cat or dog. From there, the smartest avenue is to work with pest control professionals who can treat fleas in all four life cycle stages at the same time.
When Do Fleas Die In The Winter?
Despite ample evidence that fleas can survive quite cold temperatures with ease, the myth that fleas die in the winter persists. Now that you understand how hardy these tiny pests truly are, you can make sure your cat or dog is protected against fleas all year long. This will ensure your home is protected year-round as well.
Have you ever experienced a winter flea infestation? What did you do to get rid of the fleas? Post your stories in the comments and let us know.
More Information on Dog Parasites
- Merchant et al. “Controlling Fleas – How do you get rid of fleas in your home?” Texas A&M Agrilife Extension, 2022.
- Funderburk, DVM, et al. “Fleas: Understand the Flea Life Cycle.” Countryside Veterinary Services, 2016.
The Labrador Site Founder
Pippa Mattinson is the best selling author of The Happy Puppy Handbook, the Labrador Handbook, Choosing The Perfect Puppy, and Total Recall.
She is also the founder of the Gundog Trust and the Dogsnet Online Training Program
Pippa's online training courses were launched in 2019 and you can find the latest course dates on the Dogsnet website