Veterinary tips to tackle tough flea and tick talks


Education is key to keeping clients' pets pest-free.

Too often clients don't understand the threat that parasites pose to their pets' health, their kids' health, and their own, says Julie Legred, CVT. Without the right education, pet owners may fail to protect their pets. Perhaps you didn't make a recommendation. Maybe clients are afraid to ask questions—or they don't know the right questions to ask. The result: Clients don't realize pets can transmit serious diseases, such as toxocariasis and toxoplasmosis.

The good news: With the right information and prevention, you can make a difference in the lives of pets and their families. Legred offers these three steps to help promote prevention:

1. Use team meetings. Your message is much more effective if the entire team is on the same page. If you're a technician, you've got a solid foundation of knowledge about parasites. You can help by volunteering to educate the rest of the team. The Companion Animal Council (CAPC) offers staff training tools and pet owner brochures for order at

If your team members don't feel comfortable talking about parasites, they're not going to reinforce the doctor's recommendations. And it's not unusual for team members in the practice to share different—and sometimes conflicting—messages. The client gets confused and doesn't know who to believe. So ensuring everyone's on the same page is a huge component for compliance.

Regular team meetings are key. And if you have a passion for parasite prevention, offer to attend a CE event and bring the information back to the practice. When you see what a difference it can make in pets and clients, you get excited and share your passion with other team members, Legred says. And remember, most people won't confess they don't know something. But regular team meetings and CE events will get everyone excited and ultimately bring the team to the same level. Regular meetings are a good opportunity to talk about what you should be doing as team.

2. Repeat your message. Clients need to hear your message five to 10 times before they get it, Legred says. And not everyone learns by listening. You need to show them models, videos, brochures, pictures of life cycles, demonstrations on application, and so on. And you need to offer brochures or handouts that they can take home to review. If you're not sure where to start, visit

3. Involve pet owners in the treatment plan. It's important to bring them into the whole treatment plan so that they can take on some of the responsibilities, Legred says. They need to understand what you're asking them to do. For example, you might demonstrate applying preventives so you know clients can administer them properly.

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