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Fleas Bite Dog: An Un-News Story

My post on Boxelder Bugs still stand one of my most popular, with 2,450 views. So, I thought I would add to my insect cannon and talk a little about fleas.

Now, I had two dogs in my house for nine years, and I never, ever saw a flea.

I didn’t even know what one looked like.

There were never any fleas on him. R.I.P. Parker

There were never any fleas on him. R.I.P. Parker

I always used Frontline Plus on both dogs. I don’t know if it is still made the same way, but when I first started using it on my favorest Dave dog back in 2004, is said it would provide tick prevention for one month, and flea protection for three. So, I usually waited at least eight weeks between doses (that stuff is expensive), sometimes almost the full three months.

Please, for the love of god, scratch my butt!!!

Please, for the love of god, scratch my butt!!!

Then last winter while I was low on funds, there was a lull in my flea prevention efforts of my one remaining dog of longer than three months. And it was a terribly mild winter here in Michigan. So, I found myself with a flea problem at Christmas. I bought Dave some new Frontline Plus, and they seemed to disappear again.

Then a dry summer hit. According to a flea expert (my mother-in-law), it is the kind of weather that fleas love. Suddenly, it was like the Frontline Plus had stopped working altogether. And, having just dosed her, I couldn’t try another product so soon for fear of side effects. My poor 13-year-old dog had to suffer through the indignity of fleas for four more weeks. Frontline Plus features fipronil (9.8%) and S-methoprene (8.8%).

A picture of a flea. Ugly little sucker, isn't he?

A picture of a flea. Ugly little sucker, isn’t he?

When the time arrived, I tried a brand called Adams Flea and Tick Spot On for Dogs. I was trying to find something with a different active ingredient than the Frontline Plus, that kept failing me. Adams Flea and Tick Spot On contains Etofenprox (30.0%), (S)-Methoprene (3.6%), and Piperonyl Butoxide (5.0%). I must admit, I was drawn to it because it came with an applicator. I always hated how Frontline got all over my hands when applying it—it even happened once while I was pregnant. But, well, after using the applicator I had flea preventative running down my arm and a dog that still had fleas. Adams is gel, rather than liquid like Frontline. But this just meant that the five places I had put it along my dog’s back, as the directions had indicated? Now she left five wet spots every time she laid on my hardwood floor. For a WEEK.

I never tried a flea collar, because I didn’t want to mix flea prevention products, and because she already wears her regular collar with her ID and her choker chain daily. I really didn’t want to add a third. I also never tried flea shampoo. I felt like if I couldn’t apply it to my dog without wearing gloves (as the directions warned), then maybe it shouldn’t touch her skin either.

As the Adams wasn’t having any effect anyway, I gave her a regular bath with dog oatmeal shampoo. That washed off all the eggs and gave her some temporary relief, before the adult fleas began to feast on her flesh again.

Finally, we were far enough out from the Adams treatment that I tried Pet Armor Advanced 2. It had different active ingredients, being Imidacloprid (9.10%) and Pyriproxyfen (.46%). (Who names this shit?) Within about 12 hours, you could see the fleas on her fur, because they didn’t want to be next to her skin anymore. Some became lethargic. The Pet Armor had helped drastically, but we had still not returned to the flea-free life we once enjoyed. Dave can now sleep through the night, but there are still enough that you can pick them off of her. I have tried sweeping all the floors and the couch and washing all places she sleeps. But I really think all the fleas just live in her luxurious Chow undercoat, because the humans don’t have any bites on them. I was worried that the remaining eggs on her might hatch, and that they were irritating her, so I gave her a bath. Just in the few days she had depleted skin oils, the fleas were all over her. I picked off and smooshed 25, just last night. So, we live in a delicate balance. She won’t be due for a redose of Pet Armor Advanced 2 until September 22nd. I hope it doesn’t poop out at the end like ibuprofen does—4-6 hours, my ass. It only lasts 3 hours, tops.

I guess I will keep using Pet Armor Advanced 2 for a while, since I had to buy 4 doses to try it. I know there are new fancy oral flea preventatives out now, but my dog is old and I don’t want to kill her in the process of trying to kill her fleas.

Has anyone else out there who was a long-time Frontline Plus user find it is failing them? And why does the Frontline site now advertise something called Frontline Gold? “Curious,” as Les Nessman would say.

UPDATE 11/28/16: After I wrote this post, I talked to my vet. They recommended Vectra 3D, a topical which contains Dinotefuran, Pyriproxyfen, and Permethrin. I only tried it for a month, but in that month she was flea-free, and they came back after I dosed her with Pet Armor Advanced 2 again. Vectra 3D was around $18 a monthly dose, and comes with a discount if you buy a large quantity at one time, as most pet medications do.

Good luck! I hope you all find your own solution.


My sweet gurl.

My sweet gurl.

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