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Confessions of an imperfect dog mom: FLEAS

Confessions of an imperfect dog mom:  MY DOG HAS FLEAS

yard shot

My husband and I work really hard to take the best possible care of our house full of dogs and cats.  This is a picture of our Pomeranian, Kringles, he is as sweet as he is cute.  A few weeks ago I picked up this sweet little guy to start brushing him out for a bath and realized, to my horror, he was full of fleas.  In all the years I have had pets I have never had problems with fleas.  Now we have learned the hard way what a menace fleas can be and wanted to share what we experienced so hopefully you don’t have to.

We are from Minnesota, fleas, while they are an issue in Minnesota are no where near as prolific as they are here in our new home in KY.  In Minnesota, traditional monthly flea and tick treatment did the trick – never once saw a flea in the house or on our pets.  Living a bit farther south fleas are much more of a menace and the season lasts much longer than one would think.  Here is what I have learned in the last few weeks.  20140906_113130

  •  September is the worst month for fleas here and it was the month of  September when they struck Kringles.
  • Some flea and tick treatments work well for some pets and not well for others.  We have always used Frontline with success for our pets and even here it was working for our other three dogs.  For some reason, it was not effective (or effective enough) for Kringles.  We had to switch to using an oral flea treatment for Kringles. (I stick to purchasing flea and tick treatment products from my vet, I know they are more a bit more spendy but I am not thrilled about using chemicals on my pets as it is so I stick to products that have been vetted out by a vet I trust.)
  • Our dog that spends the least amount of time outdoors was the one who got the fleas.  Fleas can hitch a ride in to the house on any pets (or on you) so it pays to be on higher alert during the times of year that fleas are most active.
  • If you see one flea in your home you probably have hundreds, maybe thousands of fleas in your home.   Once I found the fleas on Kringles I went in to Commando Dog Mom mode.  I have a seven pet household; a flea infestation in our home would be a disaster.    I put flea traps in the areas of highest risk for infestation (like our bedroom) to assess how bad the flea problem was.  You can get flea traps at Walmart.  The flea traps helped me assess where in the house I had flea activity if any.  I am leaving the flea traps out (and I will for many weeks to ensure I am immediately aware if any new eggs are not hatching).
  • I gave all of my pets flea baths whether I could find any fleas on them or not.  I also went over them with flea combs.  Fleas are so small (and so disgusting) I wanted to error on the side of caution and get those suckers off my babies.
  • I treated our cats with flea treatments (something I never historically did for our indoor cats) but once fleas are in the house the cats could become a meal for the fleas as well.  It is important to remember that flea and tick treatments for dogs CANNOT be used on cats.
  • I cut the hair on both Kringles and my Lhasa Lacey Mae pretty short so I could assess for fleas more easily.
  • I treated the carpet in the house (once a week for three weeks) with Virbac KnockOut Spray.  I purchased the Virbac spray from my vet.  I put a link  where you can find it online. virbac We did not spray our yard because we have so much wildlife in our area (it is one thing to keep our pets off the yard until the spray dries but it is impossible to protect the wildlife so we chose not to spray the yard).  I washed all of our hard flooring in hot water and then went over them again with a steamer to kill off any possible flea activity or eggs.
  • I have been washing our bedding, all the dog beds and any towels, blankets or rugs that the pets have access to every week in HOT water.  Unfortunately, for every flea you see there are potentially thousands of eggs that could hatch later so preventing an infestation is something that has to go on for weeks.  I have also been running the vacuum across hard floors, furniture and carpet as often as I can.

laundry basketWe were fortunate that we caught the fleas on Kringles pretty quick and we had a helpful vet who gave us a lot of advice and prevented an infestation in our home.  I was horrified when I found the fleas on our sweet little Kringles and I felt like a big fat failure for letting it happen.  Its not just that fleas are disgusting (and they are really disgusting) but its the discomfort for our dog and the risk of disease for all of us that they pose.  The more I  read and the more people I talked to about flea problems the more I realized how common this problem is for pet owners…guess I was not alone.

Here are some links I found helpful for learning about dealing with fleas:

ASPCA on fleas

WebMD on fleas

CAPC (Companion Animal Parasite Council)

University of Kentucky College of Agriculture (flea control article)

We seemed to have nipped this problem so far but next year we will be extra vigilant so we hopefully don’t face this again.  I hope you never have to deal with fleas but if you do I hope this post was helpful. Check out my Parent Resources page for other articles I have written on pet care issues.   If you are a dog lover (or a cat lover) consider following my blog for pet news, Pet Rescue Art, free tutorials and more.  I post 1-3 times per week on my blog and daily on my Facebook and Pinterest pages.

Rescue On!