My Dog Has Fleas!

Rocket here obviously is flea-free, happy to play with his
very favorite toy.

It can start slow. A small scratch behind the ears. Maybe a wiggle and rub of the shoulders. But soon it goes on to a vigorous butt chew, followed by frantic and constant ear and shoulder scratching and rubbing.Trust me, telling your dog to stop doesn't work! If you check out your dog's coat you'll find the telltale bits of "dirt" -- flea dirt. Oh, no! How could this have happened?

Of course there are other reasons for your dog to have the witchie itchies. But the subject of this post is:

So my dog has fleas -- now what?

First of all -- where do fleas come from?

Fleas are basically everywhere. Even if your house is spotless and you bathe your dog every other day, he will sooner or later have a flea -- or two -- or three. Some areas of the country have more fleas than others. Where I live in Florida for example we have the impossible to totally eradicate sand flea. Yes, if you have outdoor/indoor cats, you will have more trouble with fleas than other people. But other than that -- everybody gets fleas.

Okay, my dog has fleas, or he'll get them, sooner or later. Now what?

The very best cure is prevention. For this I like a combo of natural products and chemicals.

Diatomaceous earth/boric acid are natural occurring minerals that I like to put around my base boards and shake a bit into carpets. I also put diatomaceous earth out in the dog yard. These minerals dry out fleas, make the environment less pleasant for them. May even kill a few.

I used to use either Frontline or Advantage flea drops every month, all year round. They work well but not perfectly. Just a note -- that if you have a long haired dog like I do, they have less undercoat than most dogs and so the flea product needs longer to distribute over the dog's body than the package directions state. I don't bathe my dogs for a week after applying one of these products.

More effective but with a potential for more side effects are a family of internal medications; a pill which is taken once a month. We use one called Comfortis. Check with your vet for details on this.

If you discover -- omg my dog has fleas -- the day before going to Mom's with the dogs for Thanksgiving, there is a product called Capstar which will kill all the fleas that are on your dog right now. Apply your spot-on treatment as well as that will take care of any eggs. Use this as a general rule -- if you see one flea, there are ten that you don't see.

If you see a flea between spot-on treatments Frontline has an expensive but very good flea spray that you can use any time. Also I recently found an excellent natural flea spray that does a good job in between regular treatments; it's called EVOLV and you can get it at this website:

There are natural flea shampoos on the market. Also I have friends that say feeding their dog brewers yeast and garlic keeps the fleas down. I have personally not found any of these products very effective, but if you use them and like them, I'd love to hear from you.

But my dog has fleas, lots of them! He's loaded! What should I do?

It happens to the best of us. One day we look down on our dog and discover that he is crawling fleas. Eeew! Okay, the first step is to recover from the utter gross out.

The question then becomes -- will a spot-on treatment still be enough?

Frankly, no.

Now you need the big guns. Set aside your complete weekend. Go to Home Depot and get enough flea bombs -- the best ones are those that handle flea eggs as well -- to cover your entire house.

Then clean house. After all, do you want to bomb the dirt or the fleas? Then follow package directions scrupulously.

Before you take your dog out of the house with the rest of the family, bathe him and apply flea spray. Later you'll put the spot product on him.

I have had a barbecue in the back yard while bombing. Once we had a great afternoon at the park.

When you get back, you'll need to do another major clean out and air your house very very thoroughly. Then apply some more boric acid or diatomaceous earth around the base boards and carpets.

Oh and you might need to repeat this whole procedure in ten days when the current crop of eggs hatch. Sound like fun?

The moral is -- be vigilant about fleas when it's a small problem, and you won't have to deal with a big problem.

Return from My Dog Has Fleas to Small Dog Grooming

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