Why Preventing Fleas and Ticks is Important for Dogs

Published on November 20, 2019 by arothstein

Dog itches, may have fleas and ticks

One of the most important things for pet owners is preventing fleas and ticks for their dog. For that reason, vet techs educate a pet owners on flea and tick medicine. Why it this important, and what happens if this medicine is not given regularly?

When a pet visits a veterinary practice for a wellness exam or treatment for an injury or illness, the vet tech makes the initial assessment of the animal’s condition and provides emergency care, if necessary.

The vet tech handles blood work, lab tests, and prepares the medications, treatments, and vaccines that are administered by the attending veterinarian. Although vet techs can’t perform surgery, they can perform many of the procedures that a veterinarian would usually handle.

How Vet Techs Interact with Pets

One of the essential qualities of a vet tech is the ability to remain calm and always project a professional demeanor. Animals are often fearful when they’re brought to a veterinary clinic. For that reason, strange scents, noises, and unfamiliar people are stressful for some animals. Whether the technician soothes the frightened animal with words or a loving touch, it can be enough to make the pet feel at ease.

Interaction with Pet Owners

Although most vet techs enter the field because they love animals and want to care for them, one of the necessary traits of a vet tech is excellent communication skills. This is because a lot of the interaction that pet parents have in a veterinary practice is with the vet techs.

Although the technical skills that a vet tech needs are learned through a degree program, their love for and interest in animals are essential traits that come naturally. Vet techs must genuinely have an interest in the concerns of pet parents and be able to educate them about dietary needs, training methods, and preventive care. One of the topics vet techs educate pet owners about is flea and tick medication for dogs.

What are Fleas and Ticks?

Fleas are insects that feed on the blood of cats, dogs, and other animals. Ticks are ectoparasites that belong to the Arachnida class of insects like spiders. Fleas most commonly affect dogs and cats but will attack other animals.

Fleas leave bites on their host similar in appearance to a mosquito bite. The bites may appear in clusters or lines and become swollen, red, and itchy. The irritation from flea bites may last as long as several weeks.

Ticks insert pincers into their host and excrete an anticoagulant that keeps blood from clotting. Ticks can be dangerous because they spread pathogens and diseases to their hosts. One of the primary differences between fleas and ticks is that fleas may infest the interior of your home or entire yard. Ticks usually attach to the individual host and mainly remain outdoors.

What is Flea and Tick Medicine?

Flea and tick medicine is designed to kill fleas and ticks on dogs and keep them safe from pests that cause disease. There are dozens of flea and tick medications on the market and most people don’t understand exactly how they work. Your vet tech can explain about the different medications and what the most effective option may be for your puppy or dog.

Flea and tick medicine for dogs is available in three forms:

How Does It Work?

The most common, active ingredient in flea and tick medications is an insect neurotoxin that attacks an insect’s central nervous system. The neurotoxin doesn’t work immediately. It’s designed to allow the insect to return to its nest to infect other insects. The ingredients in these medications are lethal to insects but are safe for dogs and puppies in small doses.

The Most Common Neurotoxins in Flea and Tick Medication

The neurotoxins most commonly found in medications to rid your dog of pests are Fipronil, Imidacloprid, and Permethrin. Active ingredients that are usually in spot-on medications include Dinotefuran, Etofenprox, and Selamectin. Ingredients in flea and tick medications are designed to accomplish different purposes.

Insect Growth Regulators in Flea and Tick Medicine

Insect Growth Regulators also known as Juvenile Hormone Analogs are chemicals that are formulated to prevent insect larvae from developing into adulthood. The most common varieties of IGR’s are (S)-methoprene and Pyriproxyfen.

Synergists in Flea and Tick Medicine

Synergists are another ingredient in many flea and tick medications and are designed to enhance the effects of active ingredients. Synergists make active ingredients last longer and take more time to metabolize in the insects.

Flea and Tick Dog Collars

Collars designed for flea and tick problems are designed to prevent pests from infesting your puppy or dog and reproducing. Some collars are designed to eliminate ticks and fleas and their larvae by releasing chemicals into a dog’s skin to stop an infestation.

Most flea and tick collars will last up to eight months and work well to stop or prevent an infestation. Some collars may work in conjunction with other medications. However, you should never use more than one type of flea and tick medicine at the same time without consulting your veterinarian.

Oral Medications

One of the essential factors to consider when using an oral flea medicine for your dog is that several of the most effective medicines require a prescription from your veterinarian. Oral medications are designed to eliminate adult fleas or their larvae, but not both. At this time, there aren’t any oral medications to get rid of ticks.

Currently, the most effective and fastest way to eliminate a flea infestation is by using an oral medicine. Some of the most effective treatments can kill fleas within four hours. Some pet parents find it difficult to get capsules into their dog’s mouth. Several flea medicines are available in a chewable form for dogs who won’t take capsules.

Topical Flea and Tick Medication

Topical flea and tick medicine for dogs include spot-on treatments, powders, and shampoos. Spot-on treatments are formulated to rid the dog of eggs, larvae, fleas, and other pests that infest a dog. This medicine usually lasts for about a month. Some medications kill fleas, ticks, and lice. Some medications will kill fleas but not ticks. Topical medications should never be used on a puppy that’s under seven weeks of age and should never be used on cats.

What is the Proper Regime for Each Dog?

Flea and tick medicines for a dog are typically regarded as safe but it’s essential to follow the directions of your veterinarian. You should never use more than the prescribed or recommended dosage of the medicine. If your dog or puppy has any adverse reaction to a medication contact your veterinarian immediately.

Here are some rules to follow when administering flea and tick medicine:
  1. Read the directions and follow them exactly
  2. Don’t use multiple products on your dog
  3. Make sure the dosage is appropriate for the weight of your dog
  4. Never treat your dog with any medication that isn’t designed for use on animals
  5. Prevent your dog from going into any area of your home or yard that’s been treated with products containing chemicals including pyrethroid or pyrethrin.

What are the Benefits of Flea and Tick Medicine?

Getting bitten by one flea can cause an allergic reaction in a dog. Flea and tick medicine for your dog or puppy can prevent allergic reactions like skin irritation and itching. The medicine can also prevent your dog from ticks and other pest bites.

Another benefit of flea and tick medicine is that not only do they keep your dog from suffering itching and allergies, but they keep fleas, ticks, and other pests from getting into your home and into your carpeting and furniture.

What Are Some of The Viruses Fleas and Ticks Carry?

Most dog owners are aware that taking their pet to the vet for wellness exams and providing a healthy diet is essential, many aren’t aware of the viruses carried by pests.

American canine hepatozoonosis (ACH)

ACH is a disease caused by ingesting a tick. The disease can produce symptoms including deterioration of muscle mass, stiffness, pain, fever, and weight loss. A dog infected with this disease may require treatment for several years.

Lyme Disease

Lyme disease can cause kidney disease if it isn’t treated. This condition produces symptoms that include fever, lethargy, and weight loss.

Allergic Dermatitis

Flea allergy dermatitis is caused when a dog has an allergic reaction to the saliva in a flea bite and not the bite itself. Flea allergy dermatitis may be treated at home with a topical solution, but you may want to consult your veterinarian about the most effective treatment.


Fleas may carry tapeworms, which can be harmful to a dog if a flea carrying the parasite is ingested. Symptoms may include skin irritation, vomiting, and weight loss. Always take your dog to your vet if any of these symptoms appear.

Heightened Awareness About Fleas and Ticks

There are more flea and tick medicines in the market than ever before. Pet owners have a lot of options available when it comes to treating their dog or puppy. In spite of the many medications that are available, veterinarians and vet techs are getting a lot more questions about treatment options.

Wildlife habitats are growing smaller, there are changes in weather patterns, and pet owners are more aware of the newest treatment options to rid their dogs of fleas and ticks. What most pet owners don’t know is that fleas may lay 40 to 50 eggs each day. The eggs are dropped into carpets, furniture and wherever their dog is.

Veterinarians and vet techs can educate pet owners about the reasons their dogs get infested by fleas and ticks and what treatments are the most effective. Many people don’t think of flea and tick treatment as medicine. Veterinarians and vet techs can change this perception by educating pet owners and making parasite prevention a priority in pet care.

Want to Learn More?

Did learning about why flea and tick medicine is important for dogs interest you? Ready to start a program to become a veterinary technician? With an associate degree in veterinary technology, you’ll gain the knowledge and skills you need to start an entry-level career as a veterinary technician. Broadview University has been part of the community for more than 40 years, so we’ve developed connections that can help move your career forward. After completing our accredited degree program, you’ll be eligible to sit for the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE). Passing the VTNE allows you to become a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT), a designation that will give you a competitive advantage when you enter the job market.

Contact us today to learn more about becoming a veterinary technician and working in veterinary technology.

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