My dog has fleas
August 19, 2012 9:23 PM   Subscribe

My dog has fleas. Please help me get rid of them.

I live in Hawai'i, where the fleas and other bugs are plentiful. In the past few days, she has been shampooed with Hartz Ultraguard, then treated with Frontline Plus. She still has fleas. She is a terrier that weighs about 18 lbs. We don't know what to do next.
posted by kamikazegopher to Pets & Animals (18 answers total)
Fleas are nesting creatures, they don't stay on the dog their entire lifecycle. That means to beat fleas you have to treat then environment around the dog. Vacuum every surface possible, wash all bedding, especially where the dog is, clean every spot the dog ever hangs out. Get the canned flea sprays and spray down those areas too. Even consider one of the spray bottles you attach to your hose and doing your yard. If fleas are still a problem after then, consider bombing rooms entirely with flea bombs.
posted by internet!Hannah at 9:28 PM on August 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

Did you shampoo her the same day that you applied the frontline? Frontline needs body oils to disperse over the body of the dog. After a bath, you need to give the dog a couple of days to get a little oily before you apply frontline.
posted by pickypicky at 9:39 PM on August 19, 2012

It will take about a week to ten days for the Frontline to nuke several successive waves of hatchings.

The most important thing you can do right now is vacuum and TAKE THE DIRT OUTSIDE. Do not let the vacuum sit for a moment, go straight out to an outside trash receptacle and dump the canister or bag. If you can't get it far enough away from your house, dump into a black trash bag and tie off with knots.

I actually find that the Frontline is pretty much enough to end the breeding cycle in the house, so long as you do launder/vacuum anywhere the dog spends time. It will take a few days, though.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:52 PM on August 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

I've read (and it's been my experience) that some fleas can build a resistance to Frontline. I've never had resistance problems with Advantage that I've had with Frontline.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 9:55 PM on August 19, 2012

Seconding that you should try Advantage. The fleas in my area have built up an impressive resistance to Frontline, but one dose of Advantage and after about two days, they were gone. If I remember correctly, Frontline and Advantage use different chemicals to kill the fleas, meaning that you don't have to wait a full month between applications, but call your vet and check what a safe window between them is.

In the meantime, invest in some diatomaceous earth. Work it into your carpet, between floorboards, between the couch cushions, etc. It'll help (some)--apparently it's got edges that will cut open the fleas and cause them to dehydrate and die. This'll take a few days, though.

Also, if you're going crazy, order some Capstar--it's a one-pill-a-day flea treatment that basically kills everything on the animal. It doesn't kill any eggs, though, so you really do have to do it daily. If you've got a week before you can dose with a proper flea treatment again, though, it might be worth it to spend the thirty bucks so you don't have a week of scratching and biting and gross. Good luck!
posted by MeghanC at 10:12 PM on August 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

For prevention, Frontline is not generally recommended anymore, and also Advantage isn't that great, from what I understand. I'd check out Comfortis or Trifexis, both of which have the advantage of being chewable pills so you don't have to rub that liquid junk on their backs.
posted by radioamy at 10:12 PM on August 19, 2012

Please please please, for the safety of your dog, do not use Hartz products, reasons why



and here. More on google (not that google is the source for everything, but it's a starting point). Not just internet stories either: I worked at a busy clinic and saw it firsthand.
posted by bolognius maximus at 10:54 PM on August 19, 2012 [4 favorites]

As far as the fleas go, vacuum like the Queen was coming to visit. Curtains, cracks, crevices, furniture, carpet, etc. Anything that can be vacuumed. Wash bedding (hot water is good).

Frontline still works, but it depends where you live and how often you encounter fleas. Anywhere tropical/subtropical, it probably won't cut it. I have a friend in Alabama that rotates products. You will also want to treat your yard (check your hardware stores), flea populations can exist there as well.
posted by bolognius maximus at 10:58 PM on August 19, 2012

Sorry I forgot to include this: after you vacuum, empty the canister/change the bag and throw the bag out in the trash OUTSIDE of the house. Seems like common sense, but a lot of people don't think about this and throw it away in say, the kitchen garbage. Fleas just crawl back out into the environment.
posted by bolognius maximus at 11:00 PM on August 19, 2012

You're in Hawai'i! At least you can tune a ukulele...
posted by eyesontheroad at 1:01 AM on August 20, 2012

Nthing do not use any Hartz products.

You need to treat all pets in the home with Frontline Plus for AT LEAST four months (make sure you're applying it properly, all the way down to the skin), I might treat year round if I lived somewhere that doesn't get hard frosts.

Vacuum daily, wash all bedding in hot water. You can get a good quality premises spray like Zodiac or Vet Kem (NO HARTZ PRODUCTS!), but otherwise just stay on top of monthly Frontline. You may also want to let your vet know that your dog had fleas, since fleas carry tapeworms and your dog may need to be treated for tapes (I would be treating for tapes regardless if it was my dog, since you don't always find tapes when you test a fecal sample).
posted by biscotti at 5:32 AM on August 20, 2012

posted by OsoMeaty at 8:37 AM on August 20, 2012

Seconding Advantage II -- Frontline did nothing on our cats after a month. I would not use Hartz after having one cat have a serious drooling reaction to a flea bath years ago, thank goodness it didn't kill him. Ugh.

Also seconding the diatomaceous earth. We got a 20 lb. bag at a local feed store (people put it down for their chickens to peck and take dust baths in, apparently) for around $15.00. Make sure it's not the stuff they use in swimming pools.

We rubbed some on the cats, using a sprinkle can (an old large salt shaker), then on the rug and floors, after vacuuming. I worked it into the floor cracks with a broom. It's fine and grey and dusty, so of course we kept it away from their face. This morning, the biggest fluffiest one had no live fleas on him, ymmv.

I've also heard of people putting d. earth in their yards to control fleas, but believe it has to be reapplied after rain (?).
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 9:20 AM on August 20, 2012

Trifexis chewables is what we use for our dogs here in Florida. Slightly more expensive but kills the fleas when they bite, not after hours of biting like Frontline and Advantage (which we used before Trifexis, but our dogs were still in agony over the fleas being able to bite over and over again before dying/being repelled/whatever).

To control fleas in the yard: chickens. They will clean the yard of fleas with a quickness, and fertilize/aerate. Wonderful creatures, and tasty.
posted by dozo at 9:38 AM on August 20, 2012

eyesontheroad, you win for getting my little uke in-joke.

Others, had no idea about that Hartz products. I will be killing it with fire.

I will look into the diatomaceous earth. Wouldn't you know it, our vacuum cleaner just died. Oh, well. Need a new one sooner or later.

As far as Advantage II or Trifexis, I will look into what is available on the island. Kauai is small and specific items can be hard to come by.

dozo, I just counted 15 chickens in the yard. They do a great job of getting rid of the centipedes, but they are totally slacking on the fleas. I may do a chicken pep rally later to try to change their focus!

Thank you all for your excellent advice. Our awesome little dog appreciates it!
posted by kamikazegopher at 10:48 AM on August 20, 2012

Trifexis contains spinosad/Comfortis. One dose of Comfortis killed my dog. I wish that I had googled this medication before I gave it to my dog. Many people have had no problems with it but I will never give it to another animal. YMMV.
posted by futz at 11:26 AM on August 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Treat the dog with whatever flea medication your vet recommends, and treat your house with salt!
posted by rabbitrabbit at 11:33 AM on August 20, 2012

Oh I forgot about Capstar, that stuff is useful as well.
posted by radioamy at 12:20 PM on August 20, 2012

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