Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Itchy and Scratchy Show, Part 2

After the Great Lice Panic of 2009 I've taken a more casual approach when the dogs start scratching.  Looking back I can't help wondering if the dogs simply had dry skin or seasonal allergies or something equally benign since I never did find any lice and that maybe I could have possibly over reacted.  Just a teensy little bit.

So when the dogs started scratching I didn't think much of it.  Cody wasn't scratching at all and Strum only a little.  Lola was the itchy one but she's goes through periods of scratching probably due to dry skin, allergies, who knows what.  Except this time I did find out what and the answer was fleas.  First I found the flea dirt on them and thought it was just dirt but when I found it on all 3 dogs I became suspicious.  And then after a few days on constantly digging through their fur I found a flea.  On each dog.  Can I panic now?

Fleas on dogs in Colorado are pretty rare.  Except somehow this year when we're having the worst possible conditions for fleas, ie bakingly hot, 95+ up to triple digit heat and single digit humidity, we're having one of the worst flea seasons ever.  I had no idea until the critters set up a flea market on my pack.  I guess the mild winter trumps the hot, dry summer when it comes to fleas.

Anway, I was ready to take a blow torch to the whole house, SO GROSS to actually see fleas and to think their eggs and larvae are everywhere.  So once again I washed all the bed covers, vacuumed everywhere even though I'd vacuumed the night before, lamented how many beds these dogs have - SO spoiled.  I wasn't sure what to do about the dogs.  Would the flea/tick shampoo from 3 years ago still work?  Is that stuff even effective in the first place?  Those heavy duty topical pesticides (Frontline, Advantix, etc.) make me nervous.  Very Nervous.  Someone on the internet suggested that simply using regular dog shampoo was enough to shut down the flea circus and since I always listen to the internet and I follow advice that I like to hear  that's exactly what I did.  Jonny helped with the dog wrangling and it wasn't pretty but we somehow managed to get all 3 hooligans bathed without incident.  Well, at least without major incident.  Just. 

Anybody who's dealt with fleas knows how this turns out and of course it ends the next morning with itching and scratching and fresh flea dirt and, yes, visible fleas.  Still.  So the natural response is to go to the other extreme of chemical warfare and I found myself at Petsmart bright and early, blinking into the fluorescents and asking the sales woman at the front entrance door if she could direct me to the flea killing aisle.  Because somehow I missed the gigantic display of flea annihilation staring me in the face right when I walked through the door. Because, hello, worst flea season ever.  I settled on the K9 Advantix II weapon of mass destruction because it seemed to do the most of all the chemicals and I say if you're going to use poison you may as well pick the one that sounds the most bad ass.

I was, and still am not, happy about using poison.  But FLEAS, people.  I cannot have parasites in my house or on my dogs.  Poor Cody, I worry about him the most with the harsh chemicals but he looks the worst of everybody.  Big flakes of skin in his fur this morning and clumps of hair coming out despite the bath and zillions of brushing yesterday.  And I'd brushed him out the night before the bath.  I also noticed a patch of bare skin on his back after the bath and I'm hoping it's from the fleas and that he doesn't also have mange.  But let's cross that panic attack when we come to it and go with the easy answer of fleas for now.  And the poor guy can't scratch, I guess his rear legs are too weak or it's uncomfortable for him or something because when he gets itchy he starts pacing around the house rather than scratching which is why I never noticed the fleas on him in the first place.  So I dosed him with flea killing juice and hopefully he doesn't have a seizure or some other bad reaction.

Supposedly this stuff kills the fleas in 12 hours.  Two hours later Lola is still scratching so I guess we'll see by tonight.  This stuff also supposedly helps to kill the larvae in the environment so hopefully I won't have to buy more chemicals for the house and yard.  In the meantime I see a lot of vacuuming and laundry in my future.  Now if only I could stop myself from feeling itchy.

Who you calling Fleabag?


  1. Oh not good, you have me a little worried now. In 12 years here, we haven't seen a flea, and I dont want to start now, not with all our dogs - that's a lot of Advantix!
    I will have to hope that they don't want to head south.

  2. Holy crap, I would not want to do the Itchy and Scratchy Show at your house Greg. Never mind the Advantix, which was $79 for 2 doses for my 3, imagine all those dogs baths for the ones that are allergic to the flea saliva/dirt.

    I'm pretty sure it's a statewide problem, not just Boulder County, due to the mild winter. Other parts of the country that had mild winters are also having epic flea seasons. I noticed all kinds of cheaper, natural type remedies to use for repellants when I did a search on the internet for killing the fleas but I have no idea if they work. Because fleas in Colorado?? Who even thinks about that?