Am I being a worrywart over one flea?
October 13, 2008 8:14 PM   Subscribe

FleaFilter: Am I being paranoid after seeing one flea on my dog?

I got a lhasa apso mix about 3 weeks ago. He was due for a flea treatment about one week ago, but we were waiting because he's going to the groomer tomorrow, and even though it's not supposed to wash off, we figured it would be more effective if we did it after his bathing and haircut.

Tonight I was rubbing his belly and saw one flea. I tried to get it, but those things jump too fast. I looked around and didn't see anymore, but I know that there usually aren't that many on the animal itself. This is the first time I've seen a flea on him.

Even though his groomer treatment is tomorrow, I put a small amount of Vectra flea preventative on (on the spot recommended) to see if that helps.

We have a weird shag-like carpet, and I'm worried about there being flea larvae in the carpet, or on (not in) our bed, where he sleeps.

We live in an apartment, and he only goes outside twice daily for 10 minute walks. He's the only pet in the house. He chews and licks his front paws a lot, but so did the lhasa I had growing up, who didn't have fleas. He goes to the groomer tomorrow morning for a bath and a good trim, so hopefully if there are any more fleas, or evidence of them, they will let us know.

Should I be worried? Would it be necessary at this point to spray the carpet and vacuum a lot to make sure we don't let any fleas breed? Or is one flea on a pet not really a cause for concern?
posted by fructose to Pets & Animals (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It's is not very often that the one flea you happen to see is the only flea around. :(
I would go over his fur with a fleacomb, and vacuum vacuum.
posted by typewriter at 8:44 PM on October 13, 2008

And then take the vacuum bag out and change it, (take the bag straight outside to the trash!).
posted by 6:1 at 8:49 PM on October 13, 2008

As someone who has lived through an awful flea infestation in the house, NO, you are not being paranoid. Get the dog treated with Topspot or something similar, watch for jumping fleas in areas where the dog sleeps or hangs out and if you see them treat the area, or the whole house, vigorously before it gets out of hand.
posted by caddis at 8:51 PM on October 13, 2008

I think all dogs should be treated all the time with flea/tick products prescribed by a veterinarian (not bought from the pet aisle at wal-mart!!!) -- K9 advantix or Frontline Plus. That'll interrupt the flea's lifecycle and should prevent a home infestation unless you've got another vector like vermin (mice/rats) or unless you just live out in the middle of the country.

As for right now, rather then spending a lot of time with the vacuum and flea comb, just go see your vet in the morning and get a dose of a product called "CapStar" -- within an hour of a dose, it'll kill any fleas on that dog as soon as they bite it for about a day. Then treat the dog with the prescription flea treatment as directed, which will keep them down to one generation of hatchlings... any that hatch after the capstar shouldn't be able to reproduce after biting the dog.

I've lived out in the country (in a trailer on a 5 acre pasture with a girlfriend who loved horses) before in a house that had additional vectors, and between the advantix and the occasional capstar we never had a serious problem with fleas 'cept that the pasture itself and all the wildlife it harbored had a horrible infestation.
posted by SpecialK at 9:28 PM on October 13, 2008

Our cat had numerous fleas that we noticed one night. We freaked for about an hour and then did some web searching. A $20 flea collar, flea drops and a vacuum session later and we never had a flea in the house again.
posted by huxley at 9:31 PM on October 13, 2008

Response by poster: We do treat him with Vectra that we got from the vet. He had been treated last month when he was with his foster, and was due about a few days ago for his monthly treatment. We put it off thinking we would do it after his visit to the groomer, but the I saw the flea tonight after his walk.

Thanks for all the advice! Living in an upstairs apartment, it was too late to vacuum tonight without possibly annoying the neighbors, and we don't have a flea comb, but we'll do that tomorrow. I'll call the vet tomorrow about the Capstar.
posted by fructose at 9:38 PM on October 13, 2008

Response by poster: I'm also going to have to keep him off the bed tonight and see how well that goes over for our attached little guy :-(
posted by fructose at 9:40 PM on October 13, 2008

Congratulations on your new dog! I also got a new dog three weeks ago (a smooth-haired fox terrier from the local shelter). Ask your vet about Revolution. It was recommended by my vet, and also protects against heartworm and other parasites.
posted by trip and a half at 9:58 PM on October 13, 2008

This isn't really an answer, but... my vet told me that you shouldn't apply flea prevention stuff right after a bath. It apparently is better if there is a little oil in his hair, and you should wait one day after a bath to put it on him.
posted by thebrokenmuse at 12:47 AM on October 14, 2008

You are not being paranoid, it is almost never the case that there is only one flea, there is only one flea that you SAW. You usually should wait a day or so either side of a bath before applying topical flea prevention, and it's good that you're using stuff from the vet (avoid Hartz and BioSpot and all that other crap you can get in pet stores, stick with Advantage, Frontline, Vector, etc.). Keep in mind that you normally have to treat for 3-4 months to get rid of the fleas, since most of the topicals can only kill them at certain life stages (not sure about Vector). Avoid flea collars (unless you put one in your vacuum bag, that's the only use for them, IMO), vacuum daily, treat as long as the product manufacturer suggests (ask the staff at your vet clinic, they get educated about this stuff), and you should be good.
posted by biscotti at 7:41 AM on October 14, 2008

no, you are not being paranoid. act now! i would keep an eye out for a couple of days and if you see any more fleas you need to bomb your house, then vacuum (floors, curtains, and furniture), wash your sheets, etc., and THROW AWAY the vacuum bag. Flea eggs hatch after about two weeks, so be sure to keep an eye out...if the new ones hatch you have to repeat the process.
posted by junipero at 5:37 PM on October 14, 2008

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