Flea-mergency, please help!
August 3, 2018 1:31 PM   Subscribe

Seems like we have fleas in our yard as my dog comes in covered in them after being outside. I've frontlined him but that doesn't seem to be a deterrent, and he's allergic so he gets so itchy he scratches til he bleeds :( What can I do to end (and win) this battle?

We've got hardwood floors and I've washed all bedding and soft stuff in hot, soapy water, and vacuumed the couch/soft furnishings, etc. I have some diatomaceous earth coming tomorrow (I think I should sprinkle this around the plants outside?) I also poured vinegar around the patio as a desperate measure. We have a climbing plant that's shedding leaves like mad, so I'm trying to stay on top of raking but it's nearly impossible.

We've got a few neighborhood cats that prowl along our fence, so I suspect they might be the source. But my poor little pup is really suffering with the fleas and getting close to needing the cone of shame. As he's tiny and I'm pregnant, we'd like to avoid big guns pesticides. (And would they even help if the fleas are coming from neighborhood critters that keep bringing them back?) What else am I missing, and what more can I do? How long might we be battling these beasts? It's hot and dry and expected to stay that way for a while, if that makes a difference? Thanks in advance for any suggestions!
posted by stillmoving to Home & Garden (14 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Is he on regular flea prevention? Or did you just give Frontline once? He should be on monthly flea meds, full stop. Frontline is actually not that effective anymore, your vet will probably recommend something else like Nexguard (bonus—they're chewable "treats" now, instead of that awful topical stuff). Your vet can also give your dog a Capstar, which will kill all the fleas on the dog right now.
posted by radioamy at 2:06 PM on August 3, 2018 [4 favorites]

Take your dog to the vet and get him a shot. We had to do that after our cat managed to roll in a nest, somehow. The shot will keep the fleas off him, and out of the house.
posted by Enid Lareg at 2:07 PM on August 3, 2018

The diatomaceous earth is a good idea. In addition to spreading it in the yard, you can sweep it into the cracks in the hardwood floor. Get a flea comb and got to town on that dog. Drop the fleas into soapy water. Expect to have to retreat a couple times.
posted by Midnight Skulker at 2:27 PM on August 3, 2018

My dog is really sensitive to fleas (one time a single flea had him so itchy he was tearing clumps of fur out, and his eyes were so irritated he could barely open them), which was not ameliorated by Frontline. My vet said that she's seen fleas getting somewhat resistant to Frontline and gave me Comfortis. That cleared things up.

Also, you probably know this, but in meantime, Benadryl is safe for dogs and will help with the inflammation/itching. Comfortis kills fleas within a couple of hours, but if your dog is allergic, he may still have reactions to flea saliva left in his fur for a few days. (You can also give him a good, thorough bath, or take him to be groomed)
posted by lunasol at 2:29 PM on August 3, 2018 [1 favorite]

I always recommend the same thing but it *works*: the Seresto collar. My nine-pound poodle was losing his tiny mind with fleas and this product has worked for eight months to keep him flea-free, even when our apartment complex has flea colonies that hang around on neighbor cats that aren't treated.
posted by Merinda at 2:43 PM on August 3, 2018 [2 favorites]

Front line did jack when my cat got fleas after being outside for like five minutes. Comfortis was expensive, and when the vet said it starts working in like half an hour I was very skeptical, but by god it really did. All the fleas were dead in like two hours and they never came back.
posted by smoke at 3:32 PM on August 3, 2018 [1 favorite]

You really need an oral preventative like Simparica or NexGard or Bravecto. And you need to use it for at least 4 months (preferably year round), since they can only kill certain life stages. Topicals are becoming less and less useful against fleas.

You also need to treat your house, wash everything possible in hot water a couple of times a week, vacuum really well, use a premises spray like Knockout.
posted by biscotti at 3:40 PM on August 3, 2018

There are a number of useful ideas in this article, including a trap made of a lamp shining on a tray of soapy water (can help monitor the flea situation between more extensive treatments), repeated vacuuming, and vacuuming after sprinkling baking soda or carpet cleaning powder on the floor/furniture.

I would simply suggest using “Shake n’ Vac” [UK powdered carpet freshener marketed by SC Johnson] or a fine powder such as baking soda. The way it is used is as follows, treat the cat with flea treatment. Remove pets and anyone who may have dust issues from the home and sprinkle the dust over the floor so that it has a fine but even coating. Then take a torch or flashlight and zig-zag the beam across the floors covering all areas. Leave the property alone for 1 hour then repeat the use of the flashlight and wait 15 minutes. Then simply clean the dust up and use a plug in flea trap for ongoing monitoring.

Its an incredibly efficient way to physically remove fleas from an area as it relies purely on their physical removal rather than chemical action. The light causes them to jump and they get caught up in the fine dust making them easier to suck away in the cleaner.

posted by Questolicious at 5:23 PM on August 3, 2018 [1 favorite]

Seconing the Seresto collar - our dog and door-dart-y cat both have one and we haven’t had any fleas or persistent ticks this year.
posted by restless_nomad at 5:24 PM on August 3, 2018

Nthing Comfortis. Expensive and a hassle to get as it is prescription, but works great. I treat my dog with Comfortis monthly April to October.
posted by pH Indicating Socks at 11:10 PM on August 3, 2018

The Seresto collar has been life-changing for me and my cats. And yes, Capstar for immediate relief.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:53 AM on August 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

Has anyone had success with Revolution?
posted by pushing paper and bottoming chairs at 7:23 AM on August 4, 2018

My house got flea-infested two months ago, at a really bad time. Stuff I did: got the cats on flea treatment from the vet (they weren't before, because they're indoor cats). Vacuumed almost non-stop, thanks to Roombas. Diatomaceous earth or Borax on the small amount of carpeting I have, and diatomaceous earth on the sofas. Vacuumed sofas and daily, at least a half-assed job. Tossed the sofa and bed blankets into the dryer as often as possible, for 20 min on high heat (did this so much that my electric bill was significantly higher). Knockout sprayed twice in the areas that seemed the most infested. I got obsessed and probably some of that wasn't necessary, but still it took a month before the fleas were mostly gone.
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:14 AM on August 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

A couple of thoughts:

1. Do you have mosquitoes in your area? Those may be biting, too. You might want to look into the $24.95 Spartan Mosquito Eradicator. It's non-toxic and will not harm or otherwise affect bees, butterflies, fireflies, dragonflies, birds, et al.

I was extremely skeptical but hung two Eradicators on our quarter-acre and our mosquito problem has improved 95%. SME's aren't a fast solution, though; ours took 11-12 days to become effective but should keep us totally covered for ninety days.

2. SERESTO, yes! It has eliminated fleas on my dog. We first tried the Seresto collar when we had three dogs and a horrendous flea infestation that we just couldn't get atop. It took about a day and a half to reach full effect, but it's supremely effective for eight-nine months if you don't get it wet.

Note that if you use Capstar, your dog may INTENSELY whine and wriggle and chew (yes, even more) at flea bites for hours while the fleas have some kind of weird feasting death orgy that is painful to your pup. This happened with my dogs and no one warned me about it. I called my vet panicking that my dogs were having an adverse reaction to the Capstar, but he explained that the dogs were reacting to the flea feast deathfest.
Be prepared for that to happen, just in case. It was agonizing to see my dogs' itchiness and chewing get worse before it got (dramatically) better.

Good luck! I hope you're all sleeping better soon.
posted by younggreenanne at 7:25 AM on August 6, 2018 [1 favorite]

« Older Help! Virus.   |   Managing labour on my own Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.