Should I Give My Dog Flea and Tick Medication?

Madelene Hissom · May 6, 2022 · All

Author: Keren Dinkin

Spring and summer are great seasons for going out and playing and running around with your dog. Sadly, these seasons are also a time when fleas and ticks emerge in hordes. Warm weather heralds the arrival of these pests, making it important to give your dog flea and tick medication on time.

Fleas and ticks are more than just inconvenient and itchy annoyances to pets. If left untreated, they can lead to severe illness and also make your home unfit to live in.

Here we take a look at why you need to give your dog flea and tick medication and when you should give it.

Why Do You Need to Give Your Dog Flea and Tick Medication?

If a flea bites your dog, it can cause flea allergy dermatitis (FAD) or flea bite hypersensitivity. FAD is an allergic reaction to the antigens or proteins in flea saliva that leads to intense itching. When a pet constantly scratches the area that is infested with fleas, it can cause bumps, rashes, wounds, permanent hair loss, and other skin issues.

In the case of a severe flea infestation, the fleas living on your dog’s body can also damage its blood cells. This can result in anemia and, in a few cases, death.

Ticks can cause harm to your pet as well. They can transmit tick-borne infections such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF), ehrlichiosis, anaplasmosis, babesiosis, and bartonellosis. Your dog can also bring home ticks, exposing you and your family to illnesses from tick bites.

There are many types of flea and tick medication available on the market that can protect your pet from flea and tick bites. They include repellents, pesticides, and growth inhibitors.

They come in the form of pills and chews that are to be fed orally. You can also find anti-flea and tick collars, shampoos, powders, sprays, dips, and spot-on products for topical application. Spot-on products are liquid products that are squeezed onto a dog’s skin between its shoulder blades or down its back.

Most of these medication products can be easily bought over the counter, while some are provided and administered by a vet. 

Considerations for Using Flea and Tick Medication

Flea and tick medication have been used for years all over the world to protect pets from pests. Nonetheless, side effects or adverse reactions may still occur at times with this kind of medication.

As such, it is strongly recommended that you ask your vet when choosing a flea and tick product. This is especially important if your dog has an existing medical condition or has previously displayed an allergy or sensitivity to flea and tick medication.

Your vet will also help you select the right product for your pet and its unique needs, factoring in other aspects such as its age and size.

Before administering the medication, you must carefully read the label, the package insert, and any accompanying literature to ensure that you’re using it correctly. Additionally, keep the product packaging with you to use as a reference in the future in case a problem occurs and you need to report it to your vet.

If your dog shows any signs of illness after you administer the medication, call your vet immediately. Some of the side effects of using flea and tick products include the following:

  • Dizziness
  • Incoordination
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Poor appetite
  • Excessive salivation
  • Depression
  • Seizures

When Should You Give Your Dog Flea and Tick Medication?

Spring and summer are the warmest seasons of the year, and fleas and ticks come out and heavily infest pets during these months. However, spring and summer aren’t the only times when you’ll need to give your dog flea and tick medication.

Some parts of the US have warm temperatures throughout the year. Heated houses also have enough warmth to provide a breeding ground for fleas and ticks. So, you need to protect your dog year-round, even if it never goes outdoors.

Pet owners, too, can unwittingly bring home pests that hitch a ride on their clothing or footwear. When your dog comes near you or jumps onto your lap, these pests can travel to your dog and infest it.

However, if you live in a city that has temperatures below 10 degrees Fahrenheit or that has intense temperature fluctuations during the winter, then the fleas may either die or remain dormant. If so, you can skip the medication until spring arrives.


Flea and tick products are highly useful to keep FAD and other tick-borne infections at bay. If you are unsure about which kind of medication to give your dog or when or how to give it, consult your vet for guidance and advice.