My Day in Flea School

flea head

Yesterday morning I woke up and noticed Ashok was scratching. She tends to have dry skin, so I wasn’t sure if it was her skin that was making her itch or fleas. So, I checked her tummy, and, sure enough, I saw it. There was a little flea walking along her bare skin. Damn… I pay all that money for that monthly flea crap at the vet’s office, AND she had on a flea and tick collar that I bought when we went out in the woods in Georgia. I hate dealing with fleas. It’s one of those things that makes my head swim in fear that I will never be able to get them under control, and we will all live the rest of our miserable little lives  scratching and itching and otherwise wishing that we could blow our house up.

 

The Fleabag

The Fleabag

I went through this drill with my pomeranian Arf when I lived in Knoxville. Poor little guy would scratch and scratch and scratch. I would call the vet, and they’d tell me to bring him in to get dipped. I don’t even know if they dip dogs anymore. I’d bring him in and bomb the house while he was gone. It was torturous trying to get rid of them, and no matter what we did, he still scratched all the time. I actually never saw a flea on him. But, when I would ask the technician what else it could be, she’d assure me that the fleas were really bad this year so it was probably fleas. I forget what happened, but at some point I began to think that we needed to get a specialist to look at him and see if he had allergies. Come to find out, he was allergic to all of that crap in the dip and the grass and the trees in our front yard and basically everything but the air. I learned a big lesson in not assuming the obvious and following my gut instincts. I just couldn’t see how we still had fleas with all that we were doing – especially since he was an inside dog.

So, I got on the internet yesterday and googled what I needed to do to get rid of fleas. Now, since I use the monthly preventative, I assume that the eggs these critters lay won’t hatch. That’s what they say, but they also say that they will die, and she sure had a live flea on her. I’m not an expert on what I should expect, but I am expert on how much money I spend on that crap. I’d like to think it’s helping in some way. After reading the information on the internet about all the stuff I needed to do to get rid of an infestation – and if I’d seen one flea there are probably 5000 lurking around my house that I don’t see – I was overwhelmed. So, I went to my trusty advice portal and posted on Facebook:

I found a flea on Ashok this morning. I do all of the recommended stuff. After reading the tips on the internet on how to deal with it, it seems easier to move and get rid of my pets. Anybody got tips that will work that won’t cost me a fortune?

Well, I got lots of great tips. Plus I got a few pleas not to get rid of my pets. Sarcasm doesn’t seem to play too well on Facebook. I learned how to get rid of fleas with essential oils. I think I had testimonials from every brand of flea preventative AND at least one disclaimer or bad experience on each of them. I was told that I needed to do the same things that were documented on the internet PLUS spray my neighbor’s yard as well as my own. I had a couple of people who didn’t jump into the public fray but contacted me offline. One told me that fleas can’t survive if the atmosphere is too dry, so my AC might be strong enough to get the humid air here dry enough to kill them. Another friend told me about a product that ‘dries them out’ called Diatomaceous earth. It’s a fine powder that ‘slices’ the fleas waxy coating, and they dry out. I found this article today that further explains what happens, and this stuff is edible. Not only is it edible, some people eat it regularly because they claim it kills off parasites inside us. And they say lots of farmers feed it to their animals to kill parasites and worms. Hmmm…. very interesting. In fact, the article says that we eat it all the time because most of our grains are mixed with it to keep the bugs out of them. I realized after my day in flea school that people are very opinionated about how you kill those little buggers. I know more about fleas and flea control than I ever wanted to know. All because of that one little flea. I’m thinking of opening up a flea consulting service if I can get this problem licked.

lifecycle

So I took action armed with my newfound knowledge. I threw out Ashok’s bedding. The cats seemed to think this was a good idea, too. I vacuumed the house. I actually have hardwood floors, so the biggest issue will be my throw rugs. I went to the local veterinarian supply dealer and bought some diatomaceous earth and a bottle of natural flea repellant made up of essential oils. I doused the cats and Ashok with it last night. I found myself laughing with glee as I sprayed them (to their horror) and exclaimed ‘Die, you little a**holes!”  I put an additional ‘back of the neck’ flea preventative on the back of Ashok’s neck. I now wonder if that was wise since I’d put an initial application on July 26, but I panicked. What can I say? I was a little out of control. She was itching much less last night. All of my animals now smell like a flower garden, but they won’t let me come near them. Bella hisses at me if I come within 2 feet of her. Tonight I’m going to dust them all with the diatomaceous earth, and I may eat some with my dinner. What the hell? I went to sleep last night, and I kept feeling fleas crawling all over me, but I couldn’t find any. It must have been psychosomatic.

Dog in a space suit! Flea-free at last!

Dog in a space suit! Flea-free at last!

Lots of people encouraged me by saying they’ve had to deal with fleas even though they buy that recommended stuff, too. And many agreed that it almost makes you want to get rid of your fur babies. It’s bad enough that I have to pay all of that money monthly for three animals to prevent this, but now I have to buy this other stuff and tear up my house. I looked at some pictures this morning of flea bites, and I feel relieved that I haven’t seen anything like that on me or my dog. I think it was only one little flea. And maybe it was a recent acquisition. Oh yeah, and I wondered this morning on my run if I needed to spray the entire neighborhood since Ashok regularly runs with me. I had the great idea that maybe I just need to get one of those Mylar suits for her to wear in the summertime. While I was looking for a photo of my dream flea-free suit for canines, I ran across several articles about how the Russians used dogs as test subjects in their first space flights. I’m guessing I can find a better-designed suit for her today, but I’ll bet they didn’t have fleas up there!

Russian dog space suit

Russian dog space suit

6 thoughts on “My Day in Flea School

  1. I can’t believe you called that precious pup a fleabag. One flea does not a fleabag make. And you can quote me on that. 🙂 (as you said, sarcasm doesn’t play well on FB)

  2. I just found a flea on Pumpkin! In a panic I called the vet–they asked when the date of her last application of Frontline, which was 7-13. They told me to go ahead and give her another….that’s all. No sprays, washing bedding, or anything. Hmmm…..

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