Pets: It's Summertime, and the Living Is Fleasy

7 years ago

My family adopted Licorice nearly a year ago through a local rescue organization. "Twelve pounds of terror" quickly became the little black Shih-Poo's nickname, as she really wants nothing more than to lay in your lap and be adored, but she does occasionally bark her fool head off when someone comes to the door. We were all immediately smitten, and she has proven to be the perfect pet for our family.

Now, I've owned dogs before. I grew up with a dog, and my ex-husband and I owned The World's Most Neurotic Dog for many years. I figured I could handle whatever Licorice might need. And when she came to us -- underweight and covered in bald patches and hot spots from a bad case of flea allergy dermatitis -- I was ready to be the best doggie mama any dog had ever had. Let's just say that we spent a lot of time at the vet during her first few months with us. But we nursed her back to full health and she is now an incredibly healthy, fluffy-coated, and yes, totally spoiled dog.

So you can imagine stages of grief I found myself going through when we discovered that Licorice had contracted fleas. We caught it pretty early, thanks (in part) to her skin condition -- the first few flea bites turned her skin bright red and turned her into a scratching, miserable mess in no time.

Denial: She's just scratching because it's hot out and her skin is... hot. And that bug I thought I saw on her was probably just a gnat. Or I imagined it.

Anger: Of all the ridiculous problems we have been caused by the neighbors encouraging all of those feral cats, this is the worst. The absolute worst. My dog doesn't deserve this. I don't deserve this. And now maybe my house needs to be exterminated! And we have to treat the yard! And my dog is miserable! I hate them.

Bargaining: If I can just get Licorice all fixed up and we don't have a major infestation in the carpets or whatever, I'll let it go. I won't even say anything to the neighbors.

Depression: My dog is going to chew off all her fur again. I'm a terribly mommy. My poor dog. And this is just a hassle that makes me want to go hide until it's all over.

Acceptance: Hey, you know what? Maybe I should call the vet.

Now, Licorice was on a flea preventive, but it was a topical, and I'd never been very happy with it. When we first got her, our vet put her on Comfortis, but her sensitive stomach didn't agree with that decision. When I called to discuss the current problem, though, the vet had good news. First, she explained that I could probably handle any stray flea matter extermination without hiring professionals if I was vigilant about it (daily vacuuming, lots of laundry, and generous sprinkling of diatomaceous earth around the house; targeted treatment for the yard), and second, she suggested we try the Comfortis again but give each single pill as two separate doses, each given on a full stomach.

Happily, Licorice tolerated the Comfortis when the dose was split, and I literally sat with her and watched a few fleas just die and fall off her within under an hour. Magic! It's been a week, and it's like the fleas never happened. Thank goodness. Viva la Summer, right? Actually, no. Let's pretend this never happened. Thanks.

Other Bloggers Vanquishing Fleas

Veterinarian Sara Lash explains the problem and prevention at The Garner Citizen.

At The Dish by Darcie you can get a full flea education, as well as follow links to read about her flea saga with her rescue pup.

MissMeliss understands the psychosomatic itching that can result from a pet with fleas!

Alison Kerr of Loving Natures Garden is blaming the bunnies. (I still blame the neighbors' feral cats, though.)

BlogHer Contributing Editor Mir is feeling a little itchy, but is sure it's just psychosomatic. Probably. She blogs near-daily about issues parental and otherwise at Woulda Coulda Shoulda, and posts all day long about the joys of mindful retail therapy at Want Not.

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