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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.

Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books:
Be Careful What You Wish ForAVAILABLE NOW!
The Wind Could Blow a BugWHERE IT ALL BEGAN!


What I Learned This Week – 6/10/12

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I learned that “Being Human” (the U.S. version) is a really good show. It probably helped that my husband and I roared through the first season in like 48hrs due to my son having a cold and not wanting to sleep much. Unfortunately, we watched “Being Human” on streaming Netflix, and they do not yet have the second season available for viewing:( If you don’t know, it is the show about a vampire, a werewolf, and a ghost who live together in a Boston house. It sounds like the beginning of a very lame joke, but the show was well-written, had action, humor, sex, and left me caring for the not-quite-human cast.

Suction-cup soap dish

I also learned this week that they sell suction-cup soap dishes. How long have these been around! Why didn’t anyone tell me! We moved into our house in 2004, which has a tub surround with no soap dishes built-in. For years we have been balancing the soap dish on the edge of the tub. I couldn’t buy a new soap dish, because new ones would not balance in the corner as well. And the new suction cup one we can put up high, so we don’t have to always bend over. And it has holes for self-draining! Which I love, because I use Dove bath soap, and it melts like nobody’s business when left sitting in water. Which happened frequently before.

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Posted on

I guess every kid has an issue with something. My son (“M” for the sake of the blogosphere) has an issue with the bathtub. As an adult educated in the laws and reasons of science, I do not understand it. But, I am not 18 months old.

Baths for my son started in the usual way—in a baby bathtub, in the kitchen sink. He hated baths at first. But we just figured that was because he was probably cold. He was only 5 lb. 11 oz. when he was born. And at three weeks old, we realized our furnace had been running inefficiently for some time. Especially because it died and we had to buy a new one.

Once the weather warmed up and our baby fattened up, things started to go better. Throughout the summer and into the fall, we moved him into the big tub. It was a fairly smooth transition.

In November of 2011, M had to get a tube put into his left kidney that went out to an external bag that we had to hang on his back. He had the bag through January of 2012. In that time, we gave him sponge baths. In the living room. My mom thought we should have given them to him in the kitchen sink. I stood by the fact that he was too big for that now, and might rip the faucet off or something. And, truth be told, I liked to watch TV while we bathed him. He got to where he hated this, and would cling to one of us (mom or dad) screaming, while the other (dad or mom) did the best they could to wash him as quickly as possible. (As it was winter again, we chalked it up to that he was probably cold.) Sometimes this ritual would be followed by changing the bandage over his tube site. It wasn’t oozy or anything. We changed it to keep it well covered and keep infection out. But it required much screaming (by my son) and anxiety (from the parents). That may not have helped the situation either.

A week after the tube was removed I was very excited to return him to a more standard bathing routine. I plopped him in the normal tub in about an inch of water and…he screamed his head off and stood up and clutched my shirt as if I was trying to drown him. This went on for what seemed like an eternity. In reality, it was probably only a few months.

I asked the pediatrician what she thought. She hypothesized that he was just so traumatized by having the same major surgery twice and being stuck with needles by strangers, etc. that it was bound to manifest itself in some way. A great idea with probably some truth, but not a help in revolving said situation. I asked for advice from family members. Sister-in-Law suggested I let him play in the tub without water in it. I did. He was fine with that. But somehow, that ease of attitude didn’t translate to being naked in the tub with water.

So, he was standing and screaming and clutching. Until, one day, out of the blue, he figured out that he could splash his foot in the water. His right foot, to be exact. Then the screaming seemed to stop. He began to hold on to the side of the tub and, while standing, splash his right foot in the water. So no more clutching my shirt. And he would splash his left foot sometimes now too. I can wash pretty much any part of him, and he doesn’t mind, as long as he can splash his feet.

You are right, this is a big improvement, except HE IS STILL STANDING UP! He holds on to the bathtub edge for support, and it gets all slippery with water and soap. He is leaning down the whole time to watch his foot splashes. With his head hanging over the edge of the tub. One time, early on, as he was doing this, I was sitting in front of him. All of a sudden he had fallen head first out of the tub and done a sort of somersault into my lap. Suddenly I had a wet, slippery baby in my lap. I put him right back in the tub and he was unphased. He went back to stomping his foot and splashing the water.

If I try to sit him down in the tub, he screams. I have bath toys floating around. He might try to step on one with his foot if it floats by, but otherwise he ignores them. Have you ever tried to wash a child’s hair when their head isn’t even inside the tub, but hanging over the edge? I try to rinse it out and I end up with wet knees and a wet bathmat.

I fell like, if we can get over this hump of him sitting down in the bath, we will be caught up to where we should have been by now. If we hadn’t of lost three months to the nephro tube and sponge baths. It does seem as though persistence pays off eventually with him. I know it did with him falling asleep at bedtime. Hmmm…Maybe I could avoid all this by just giving him a shower instead?

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