My Dog Has Fleas

Over the last few weeks, I’ve read several books on raising a dog, watched a few videos, and listened to a whole lot of advice. What I have learned in just a short time is that most of what it takes to make a dog happy and loyal can be broken down to things that are pretty intuitive, and you don’t need to read the Monks of New Skete to figure it out:

1.) Love your dog.
2.) Set a food and sleep schedule and stick to it, and maintain consistent behaviors around your dog.
3.) Walk your dog. Lots.

If you do those three main things, things generally work out ok (at least they have for me)- the rest is nipping around the borders. That isn’t to say it is all useless, just I think the three things I listed above are the big ones, and will be apparent to most people.

Where the advice is really helpful is when it addresses the non-intuitive things. Things like- a harness is probably better for a small dog, use a 6′ lead instead of one of those annoying retracting ones, which kinds of dog food are actually poison and what kinds are good, etc. Things that unless you have direct experience with a dog, you would never know.

Here is one of those things I know nothing about- fleas. Lily apparently has fleas, and I don’t know how to get rid of them. I know there is stuff you can drop between the shoulder blades, one friend swears by something called Frontline, my mother and father swear by stuff called “Natural Chemistry,” and I’ve had a whole bunch of stuff thrown at me and I don’t know how to evaluate, but I do want to get this flea thing under control before the house is infested an Tunch is scratching himself.

So what do I do? Should I get a flea collar? What shampoo should I get, or should I? And so forth.

142 replies
  1. 1
    Laura W says:

    I repeat: Advantage. Frontline was useless last Summer and my whole house was infested. Horrible. It will make you crazy.
    You never listen to me.
    (I don’t think you can do Adv. and collar simultaneously, or a flea bath. Look it up. ADVANTAGE, JOHN!)
    (Treat Tunch too. I get big dog Adv. doses from eBay and treat all 4 cats and Leah with same product. However, there is one specific Dog Adv. you can not use on cats. Easy to research online. I’ll send you a link if I can find it. Couldn’t access last time I posted this same thing.)

  2. 2
    Egilsson says:

    Big frontline fan here. 3, then 2, then 1 cat have been roaming my house, and fleas are not a problem.

    Collars suck, feel like nasty chemicals and otherwise suck.

  3. 3
    Sasha says:

    Advantage/Advantix. Wonderful stuff.

    And yeah, don’t double up on the flea stuff. (It doubles the poisons and the increases the likelihood of Lily getting ill.) Choose one remedy and apply it. If you want to try something else, wait a few weeks.

  4. 4
    BigSwami says:

    Don’t use flea collars. Use the nasty oily shit you have to squeeze on them, it’s the only thing that works. Advantage is amazing.

  5. 5
    Paddy says:

    Ugh, you poor thing. The best I can tell you is that most of it is trial and error. The best way to start is with your vet and letting them do the application of which ever topical they rec- I’ve heard too many horror stories about side effects and I prefer to let the vet do the worrying.

    The only other thing I would suggest is after doing what your vet says and you think you’ve got a grip on the situation, vacuum the house using 20 Mule Team Borax as you would a carpet freshner. I’ve used it for 30 years or so, in Miami and here and there is just something about it that captures the fleas and eggs and kills them out right.

    Good luck.

  6. 6
    Maryl says:

    Frontline works for fleas AND TICKS! which, if you live in a tick-y area, is a very good thing. Fleas spread quickly so you should check your cat carefully . . .

  7. 7
    scarpy says:

    I vote for K9 Advantix. It’s been awesome for our dog. There’s nothing quite like brushing your pet and finding the withered, dry husk of an unlucky tick who picked the wrong poison-blooded pooch.

    I don’t know why they all have to have practically the same name though. I almost finished this post agreeing with Laura W before I realized we were talking about different products.

  8. 8
    Louise says:

    I’m sure you’ll get lots of recommendations for flea/tick control (I use one of the ones you squeeze onto the skin between the shoulder blades), but I want to repeat something one of your other commenters said yesterday: microchip. Since you’re letting Lily be off-leash, and really, in any case, a microchip is critical. Not only does it help you find her in case she gets lost and taken to a pound/shelter/vet, but it also prevents her from being sold/provided to research labs.

    So that’s my two cents. I’m growing very fond of Lily via the photos and stories and I want her to stay safe!

    (My apologies if you already replied to this idea in another thread.)

  9. 9
    Sarcastro says:

    Frontline worked for years, and then it stopped working so I switched ’em to Revolution (which also includes heartworm, earmite and mange protection). Working perfectly so far this year.

  10. 10
    stevie314159 says:

    You MUST use Frontline or Advantix, once a month, (I do it on the 1st, along with giving the heartworm pills) on those shoulder blades. That will take care of the fleas.

    I noticed that deer picture yesterday. Make sure you talk to your vet about a Lyme Disease vaccination for Lily.

  11. 11
    Lesley says:

    don’t get a flea collar- they usually don’t work and some are actually poisonous.
    Frontline, advantix, (not for cats) advantage: any of those. If you bathe her, be sure to wait 24 hours before applying- the oils in the coat help it spread. Make sure she has tick protection. Look into the Lyme’s vaccine (not 100% effective but may be an option. You usually don’t need the vaccine if you use a topical protection).

    You can use a simple baby shampoo or go with cloud star brand like Busy Buddies, or Earth bath brand shampoos.

    Some people have had good experiences using products with Nematodes in them for the yard to reduce or eliminate fleas. They eat the flea larvae.

    As Laura W. noted- some of the products for fleas seem to be ineffective. For us in Maryland it was Advantage that didn’t work, Frontline that did. Sometimes you need to apply every two weeks instead of once a month. Bathing frequently will make it less effective.Sometimes the fleas become resistant to the formula.
    Revolution is another product (I think you need a prescription for that because it has heartworm meds in it).

  12. 12

    In addition to:

    1) advantage or frontline for both of them (I use Frontline on my kitteh, which also kills ticks even when they latch on)

    2) vacuuming with borax

    3) be sure to wash their bedding! in the hottest water possible! Fleas breed *off* the animal, take 3 weeks to grow up, then hop back on.

  13. 13
    Original Lee says:

    Frontline has some advantages and disadvantages, but it worked pretty well for us. The main advantage is that you only have to pay attention to it once a month. The main disadvantage is that you can’t really touch the dog for a day or two after you put the drops between the shoulder blades, because the drops sort of wick across the coat and then are absorbed by the skin.

    The other thing we did to supplement the Frontline was to give the dogs brewer’s yeast tablets with their food. I’m not sure why it works, but it seems to help, plus the dogs’ breath and farts were more pleasant to be around.

    Check with your vet about this, but before you give her Frontline or other external flea treatment for the first time, give her a good bath outdoors with flea shampoo. (I say outdoors because the fleas jump off the dog while she’s in the tub and then spread throughout the apartment.) Lily is so small that you have to be careful about which flea shampoo to use. (Ditto for flea collars.)

    My only experience with flea powder was not optimal. The active ingredient in flea powder, if absorbed through the skin or inhaled by humans, can cause tachycardia and other adverse effects. I spent most of the evening in the emergency room under observation when I dosed our dog at the time. YMMV.

  14. 14
    Laura W says:

    Here. I had this bookmarked all last year.
    It’s all you need to know.
    Trust me.

  15. 15
    Ryan S. says:

    Frontline is good stuff it is a insecticide and methoprene. Methoprene is like insect birth-control it inhibits the insect reproductive system and will within a couple months eliminate all fleas from your house and pets. Its also effective against mosquitoes. It actually is absorbed into the blood stream of your pet and if a new flea comes along and bites your dog it stops is reproduction. The nice thing about it is that unlike insecticides it is extremely specific and only inhibits an insect protein. So mammals could drink the stuff and effectivly neuter any insect that bites them. DO NOT DRINK FRONTLINE: it also contains a insecticide that prolly is not good.

  16. 16
    DZ says:

    I have 4 Siberian huskies, and I use Advantage. No fleas for years.

  17. 17
    dr.hypercube says:

    I’ll agree with the ‘squeeze betw the shoulderblade’ stuff recommendo – I use it mainly to deal w/ ticks.

    I’m not a huge microchip fan – my dogs are tattooed (one of ’em – tongue girl – had/has to be). No chip reader necessary.

  18. 18
    Terri says:

    I used both Advantage and Frontline on my dogs here in Flea Heaven. They no longer work. My vet says that sometimes, a dog’s body chemistry rejects topical solutions. There is a fairly new product out called Comfortis, that your vet should have. It comes in pill form, and is supposed to last 30 days, however it was 67 days after administering, until I saw the first flea. I always wonder what I’m doing to my dogs’ liver and kidneys when I put any kind of pesticide on them, but 2 of them are highly allergic to flea bites, so for their comfort and mine, I dose them.

    And I agree, flea collars suck.

  19. 19
    Bill Murray says:

    I would look for the frontline plus or revolution flea and heartworm. It’s nice to be able to do both treatments at once. Using those, I’ve never had a problem.

    The stuff you could buy without the prescription is garbage.

  20. 20
    Lee from NC says:

    My cat was a stray kitten when I found him about 14 years ago with pretty bad fleas. One dose of Frontline wiped out the fleas and he’s never had any since then. Fourteen years. Can’t beat that. ‘Course, he’s an indoor cat now, so that helps, lol. But seriously, Frontline was great. It killed the fleas and the eggs, breaking the breeding cycle.

  21. 21
    Cackalacka says:

    Man, I hate those retracto-leashes. I hate dog-sitting for folks who use retractro-leashes instead of the real ones. It usually takes about 3 or 4 days before the dog re-learns how to walk on lead.

    I don’t know if the retracto-leashes are more dangerous or if they are more stupid.

  22. 22
    Woodrowfan says:

    FYI, you might like today’s retro Arlo & Janis, given your parents’ cute lil JRs.

  23. 23
    JR says:

    The only thing I have found about fleas is that the stuff you buy that seems “reasonably” priced at your local department store, is all junk. The shampoos, collars and drops you find at a place like Walmart and that cost $5-$10 have all done absolutely nothing for the fleas we have had. The good stuff, Advantage or Frontline, which cost $60 for three monthly doses? Those work wonders.

  24. 24
    Laura W says:


    I almost finished this post agreeing with Laura W before I realized we were talking about different products.

    We agree. Advantix can’t be used on cats is the deal. I find Advantage (I guess it came first?) to be very effective here in NC on the dog, so I just use that product for the whole tribe.

    BTW, Frontline did work at one time. Also, my vet, who I love, tried to push Frontline on me last year when the house infestation was so bad and Willie had fleas the size of quarters all over him. I declined his advice and switched to Advantage (waiting a full month to treat them since I’d already dosed them with Frontline…UGH…longest month of my life.) I was right, he was not.

    Also, Borax around the baseboards did nothing for me. Ya just gotta go with your good instincts here, do your research, and deal with it now before you are vacuuming every hour instead of every Saturday.

  25. 25
    PattyP says:

    As Laura W. said, Advantage is a good product. It’s expensive but it works. Also I recommend the Advantage Multi version, which protects against heartworms and ticks as well.

    DO NOT – I cannot stress this enough – use any sort of over-the-counter flea sprays, shampoos, collars, etc., unless your vet says they’re okay. Hartz products have been known to kill animals and I’m amazed their junk is still on the market.

    If you need to bathe either Lily or (gulp) Tunch, use regular baby shampoo. Soap cracks the exoskeletons of fleas and ticks and they’ll die. If the flea problem is severe, you may have to give them baths once a week until it’s under control.

    If you have a flea problem in your house, sprinkle Borax laundry booster on the furniture, carpets, bedding, etc. Let it sit for a few hours then vacuum it up. It works the same as any soap to crack the exoskeletons, plus it will make your stuff smell nice. Although this is generally non-toxic to pets, it’s best to try to keep them from stepping or sitting on it as it can be irritating to their eyes and sinuses.

    To control outside fleas, sprinkle diatomaceous earth around the outside walls, patio areas, etc. You can get this anyplace that sells gardening supplies.

    These are all methods I use so I know they work, although I should add the disclaimer that if you have any druggie friends who come over and try to snort the Borax lying around, I cannot be held liable. ;-)

  26. 26
    Legalize says:

    I’ve used Frontline and Advantage on my cats and both worked.

    Here’s a problem that drove me nuts when my cats had fleas: what to do about the fleas that jumped off my cats, but still were in the house! Solution: place a bowl of water with liquid soap in it on the floor; point a lamp directly at the bowl; the fleas will be attracted to the warmth of the water, hop in, and drown when they get stuck in the soapy water. Sounds stupid, doesn’t it? Worked brilliantly.

  27. 27
    The Pale Scot says:

    Ditto #11, bath first, go to the pet shop and get an expensive shampoo, the cheap ones will use pyrethrins which may have been effective at one time but are now used by insects to supply drug parties, the newer compounds are more effective. And get in the habit of frequent vacuuming during the summer, an infestation is no fun, non-beneficial bugs suck, I’ve taken to using my Mossberg 410 pump action on the flying tree roaches we have down here in florida, suckers are as big as hotdogs, to heck with the neighbor’s complaints.

  28. 28
    RedKitten (formerly Krista - the Canadian one) says:

    Methinks John’s futon is going to be finding a new home at the dump, though, considering how much time Lily and Tunch spend on it.

  29. 29
    Punchy says:

    Things like- a harness is probably better for a small dog,


  30. 30
    Barry Soetoro says:

    I’ve used Frontline for years and it has worked. You’ll like it. However, with a new vet came Advantix, and it’s even better! It handles a lot more pests than Frontline and costs about the same.

    Stay clear of Promeris, which smells like super glue and melting plastic.

    For cats, my vet gives us Revolution, which pretty much kills everything. She’s doing just fine. That stuff works, too.

    I use a 4′ lead for my beagle. A knot is tied dead center to indicate where I hold the lead to control him on walks, especially around other animals. We learned this from a dog trainer, who taught us a lot of simple things.

    We avoid dog foods full of wheat gluten, since it led to weird skin flaking and goofy pooping behavior. Switched diet to a Eukanuba brand with real meat and the skin flaking cleared up after about a month.

  31. 31
    Ryan S. says:

    @Laura W: All those products use Methoprene or extremely similar derivatives Bayer owns the copyright I believe. The only difference is that some use insecticides for immediate relief. Those insecticides are hit or miss sometimes. But methoprene takes one complete flea life cycle to kick in.

  32. 32
    Jake says:

    We’ve tried Frontline with our dog, and it was basically useless. We switched to Comfortis and have seen much better results, p[lus it is much easier to give her a pill than to try to apply the medicine to her skin.

  33. 33
    Lee says:

    My wife is a veternarian.

    Pretty much everything is covered so far.

    Couple of items.

    Once you treat your dog for fleas. Treat your house AND your yard.

    The single most important piece of advice to give a new pet owner is…

    Never ever use anything made by Hartz. Ever. There is a good chance it will kill your pet.

    Edit: Our pets eat Iams Eukanuba. A little more expensive but their coats and health are excellent.

  34. 34
    BSR says:

    I use K9 Advantix every 3 weeks on my pup Oma during the tic season because we live in the woods. Once a month during the off seasons. Advantix seems to work well, I haven’t noticed fleas and for the amount of time we spend in the woods I don’t find many tics on Oma during daily inspections.

  35. 35
    Demo Woman says:

    @Lee: Lee’s correct that it’s important to treat your house. You can shampoo carpet but if the infestation is bad, you will have to use a stronger product.

  36. 36
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    2.) Set a food and sleep schedule and stick to it, and maintain consistent behaviors

    It’s funny, but I imagine that a handbook written from the dog’s side would say basically the same thing.

    Is anyone else old enough to remember “How to Live with a Neurotic Dog”?

  37. 37
    Kirk Spencer says:

    Any of the leading brand “oily stuff between the shoulder blades” will work – check the active ingredients and go from there. Which to use gets into the same “it sucks” arguments you used to hear when Ford and Chevy truck drivers got in the same room – with about as much basis for disagreement. Some are better fits for one, some for the other. But get the stuff – Advantage, Frontline, etc. Just check to ensure it’s got the correct active ingredients.

    Also make sure – this time – you have some for Tunch. Yeah, he’ll hate you for a bit – so?

    “Properly” you get rid of the fleas (and their eggs and such) that have escaped into the house by using a good vacuum on every fabric surface. Practically, there is some good advice above. Borax has worked for me most of the time, and the water trick has worked a time or two, both with caveats.

    Caveat for both – don’t bother till you have your cat and dog treated.

    Caveat for the Borax is that once is not enough. It won’t get the eggs, but it will get every stage past that. Sprinkle it everywhere, wait a couple of hours, and vacuum every three or four days for a couple of weeks. Two usually works, three is ‘making sure’.

    Caveat for the water is that it doesn’t do jack for eggs or early stage critters. If they’re not in the ‘seek blood’ stage it’s not good. By the same token it’s only good for a smaller range. It worked best for me if I placed it near where the animals slept.

    A dip – or a good wash using a dip-quality shampoo – will get rid of what is on the animal at the time. Depending on what you’re using you’ll get up to a day of no fleas on the animal. If they’re heavily infested I recommend doing this before the frontline, advantage, or whatever.

    Oh, before I forget… Fleas will like you, too. You cannot use frontline or such on yourself – bad things happen. I have seen people in desperation put flea collars around the cuffs of their pants – it works, sorta. Personally: a dusting of borax or diatomaceous earth on your bed and in your clothes dresser will make those into safe zones. Supplement by showering twice a day.

  38. 38
    Kirk Spencer says:

    @Bill E Pilgrim: Own the neurotic dog book – and its companion, How to live with a neurotic cat.

    Both are “funny because they’re true.”

  39. 39
    Maude says:

    I hope we can have a picture of looking for fleas and removing them from Tunch.

  40. 40
    The Other Steve says:

    Our dog got a few fleas, and so I dealt with this last month.

    DO NOT USE ANY PRODUCT SOLD BY HARTZ! The shit is as dangerous to the animals as it is to the fleas.

    Use Frontline or Advantage.

    You *WILL* also want to treat your cat. Buy the cat version, as the dog version will kill the cat.

    Before applying the shit, give cat and dog a bath. The shampoo will kill the fleas…

    Then vacuum the house thoroughly, once a day for 3 months.

  41. 41
    Michael D. says:

    I’ve got a suggestion, one I think is the best option when thinking about topical flea meds. From the people who brought us Viagra…


    Revolution controls for fleas, ticks, and heartworm. The others do some of those as well, but things like Frontline are WAY too potent. Complete overkill, just shy of poisoning your dog, if you ask me.

    Obviously though, I am not a vet. Just giving my opinion, and the opinion of the breeder I bought my dog from. Charlotte is 7 years old, and I’ve only ever found one flea on her and zero ticks. She has never had any kind of worms.

    The downside to ALL of these topicals is that they are so f’ing expensive. 800 PetMeds is probably the cheapest, and my vet matches the price (until they stopped carrying Revolution at my clinic. Now I just get it direct through PetMeds.)

  42. 42
    Ryan S. says:

    @Kirk Spencer:

    Actually when you use frontline or advantage on you pet you actually are using it on yourself.

    Methoprene has a ridiculous toxicity level to fleas and if you apply it to you pet and then pet them within 48 hrs of application you actually are getting a dose sufficient to have effectiveness on fleas. Again it is a synthetic insect hormone that stops insect puberty so to speak. Note If you can get a hold of some pure methoprene one application can keep your clear for years. Ah I kinda have first hand knowledge.

  43. 43
    Max says:

    The advice above sounds good to me. I would just add that my understanding of the Borax/vacuum exercise is that even after you get rid of the fleas, their eggs are in the carpet. The borax kills the eggs, helping to prevent re-infestation.

    Partly because I’m a cheapskate and partly because I don’t like to use any more chemicals on my dogs than necessary, I only use Advantage/Frontline whenever it’s apparent that we need them. Ticks are the usually indicators; I am under the impression you get 30 days tick protection/90 days fleas per application. At any rate, fleas have rarely shown up on my animals.

  44. 44
    Morbo says:

    @The Other Steve:

    Before applying the shit, give cat and dog a bath.

    YES! We want post-bath Tunch pics; let’s see how much of him is really fur!

  45. 45
    Face says:

    Ouch. Expect your cat to have them soon. And then your bed to have them. Use the oily Advantage stuff to fix the dog, but good luck ridding your house of fleas. Nightmare.

  46. 46
    Ed in NJ says:

    We’ve used a combination of Frontline and Sentinel for 10 years and have never seen a flea on our dog. And we live in a heavily wooded area.

  47. 47
    Pasquinade says:

    Dawn dishwashing detergent original formula – add it to laundry when washing blankets, rugs, etc., that the cat and dog come in contact with. These items should be washed at least once a week.

    Flea collars – cut them up and put them in the vacuum cleaner.

  48. 48
    Keith G says:

    Havent read above, so sorry if a huge repeat: Advantage. Do it now before too many reproductive cycles pass. And do not forget Tunch! Collars suck. Oh,and spray bedding, futons and carpets. I use Zodiac Advanced Indoor spray.

    Kill the ‘lil bastards.

  49. 49
    Allan says:

    It’s all been said, except:

    Welcome to the part of dog ownership no one tells you about until AFTER you bring one home.

  50. 50
    Stacy says:

    I’ve been recently shopping around for pest control as well (it’s camping season, which means it’s tick season). I chose the Advantix K-9 because it repels mosquitoes (which are plentiful here in MN, and will bite my poor dog until her poor mouth swells three times it’s normal size), but it is harmful to cats, you aren’t even supposed to have treated dogs around the cat for like 48 hours or so.

    Anyway, blah blahing aside, when searching around I found a chart on Drs Foster & Smith that runs down all the pest control options, what pests they kill/repel, application type, chemicals used, etc. It’s pretty helpful:

    Dog Flea & Tick Control Comparison Chart

  51. 51
    Michael D. says:

    Things like- a harness is probably better for a small dog,



  52. 52
    pika says:

    Advantix (b/c it repels ticks, too–and those biting flies). NO flea collars–let alone how they will feel to her, you’ll notice the crap all over you and your house. And it’s toxic; avoid any of those other Hartz/low-cost products. And we use baby shampoo (inexpensive!). You don’t need flea shampoo if you use Advantix. What you can do, however, is get a flea comb (brushing = bonding) and comb out any fleas and put them in a bowl of soapy water to die/rinse down sink. That will get rid of things while the Advantix works. Try to get one of the inexpensive plastic combs with two widths; a lot of the metal ones pull out fur.

  53. 53
    JoeTX says:


    Don’t know why anybody hasn’t mentioned this one.

    Its a once a month pill.

    No messy collars, powders or gels to apply. We get from the vet, but I’m sure you can get from too….

  54. 54
    Danton says:

    We use Advantage on the dog and the cat. If the pup has had fleas since you brought her home, you probably have a flea-infested home. Ugh!

    Do have Lily on heartworm medicine yet? I can’t remember when we started our dog on the stuff, but it seems to me she had to be a certain age before we could begin.

    The best thing for a dog is love and appreciation. A happy dog is a well-adjusted dog and one that’s pretty easily trained.

    Finally, there’s an old French saying I love:

    “An honorable man would never abandon a dog.”

  55. 55
    J Bean says:

    ADVANTAGE, ADVANTAGE, ADVANTAGE (or Advantix since you live in tick country)

    You have to wait a few days after bathing to apply the stuff because the oils on their skin help to distribute it.

    Do not use a retractable leash. I have seen a finger that was partially amputated by a retractable leash. If you want to maintain 10 complete fingers, use a flat leather leash.

  56. 56
    sarah says:

    question for all:

    I have an indoor cat. Recently cleaning her litter box I found what I believe are ticks, maybe fleas, just larger than the head of a pin, in the area on the floor at the baseboard. I zapped them with some insecticide I had around for ants and haven’t seen them since (this was a couple weeks ago). I live on a high floor in the middle of the city and I pet her thoroughly and have never felt any ticks on her or seen them anywhere else. Anyone have any clue what might be up? Should I be worried that she has some sort of internal insect infection? (the amount I know about animal health issues can fit in a thimble)

  57. 57
    A Mom Anon says:

    I’m in the minority on this one,but when my cats were outdoor critters,I used lavender oil regularly and never saw a flea or tick. I live in the south,in a place where there’s still wooded areas and wildlife and it worked really well. I’m a mosquito magnet and I also use lavender oil to repel them and biting flies. YMMV of course,but I swear by the stuff.

  58. 58
    Jackie says:

    I’ve had good luck with different shoulder blade products. I second the advise to make sure you check out the Lyme vaccine. No matter what I’ve used we still get a few ticks.

    My dogs walk nicely on a 6 foot lead but I do use the retractable leashes (the newer kind with the wide tape throughout those little cord guys give a heck of a burn if someone gets in the way and it lets you grab the lead if you emergently have to without sacrificing a finger) in situations where you let Lily off leash. It lets them wander and sniff a bit but my guys are not trustworthy if something huntable pops up. Squirrel, turkey, duck etc. Their brains squeeze down to “go get it” and I don’t think they even hear me. Since it would break my heart if something happened to them in the 30 seconds they would be out of control I accept the risk to me. In the city or in a crowd where they should be right by me anyway there isn’t a reason to sacrifice the comfort and control of a leather leash. I too use the knot trick. Lily is quite small but with my big guys it is helpful.

  59. 59
    MazeDancer says:

    Frontline. Fleas are horrible, and irritating. And Frontline stops those. But ticks will make you, not just them, very sick. Lyme. Ehrlichiosis. And it could last years to come. Not everything stops ticks.

    I have combated minimal fleas on cats by assiduous combing with fine tooth comb. (Which is why they’re called flea combs.) And limiting going outside. Until the screaming to go outside got so unbearable. Thus, Frontline. Which when talking about cats, after obsessive interneting, seemed least risky of the chemical solutions. Worked great. Shop internet for cheapest prices.

    But combing, which your pets love, helps you keep watch. Plus aides in prevention.

    All “pet section” flea products in grocery and discount stores should be illegal. Do nothing for fleas. Harm and kill pets.

  60. 60
    Pete says:

    I use Frontline almost exclusively on my 6 year old Pyr. It works great.

    Once during a “budget crisis” I used some cheap, between the shoulder blades stuff and it nearly killed my bud. It looks like Frontline or Advantage, but it is just pure pesticide, and is very toxic.

    I can’t believe they get away with selling that shit, and I can’t believe I was stupid enough to put it on my dog.

  61. 61
    Laura W says:

    Along these same lines, I started using Burt’s Bees Insect Repellent on myself last summer and LOVE IT. Super effective, and I love the scent of the oils. When I walk and drip sweat, I’m apparently dessert for all bugs everywhere. The only thing this doesn’t do is keep those pesky little kamikazes out of my eyes. Why do they fly right into my eyes? Hate that.

    I rub a light bit of it on the dog as well before we set off on the walk. Because there is no DEET or anything toxic in it there is no issue about interacting with her Advantage.
    $7.20 on Amazon. I’m still working off last year’s 4oz bottle.

  62. 62
    Woody says:

    My vet advises using “Bio-Spot.”

    It works…and there’s both dog and cat formulations…

  63. 63
    eastriver says:

    I’m assuming you don’t have children, JC. That would explain the fetish for this dog. Next thing we find out is that you dress the dog up in little outfits and try to teach it things it will never learn.

    You should maybe look into some sort of mentoring program (Big Brother?), or foster care. There are children who could use the time and love you put into flea collars.


  64. 64
    Screamin' Demon says:

    I repeat: Advantage. Frontline was useless last Summer and my whole house was infested. Horrible. It will make you crazy.

    Frontline works just fine. We’ve used in on our cocker spaniel for four years. He had fleas when we got him from the breeder at seven weeks, and they infested our home. We bombed the place and started using Frontline. No fleas since.

  65. 65
    donovong says:

    Advantage is what I use for our three dogs and I have not had a flea problem in years. Advantix is the same thing, but has an added insecticide component that kills ticks. I do not like the insecticide, as it is similar to the shit they use in Hartz products, which have been found to be poisonous to pets. Just my opinion, based on constant dog ownership for 35 years.

    Collars are not something I would ever use again. They don’t work and are hazardous to dogs.

  66. 66
    Violet says:

    Fleas. Oh, man. I’ve got way too much experience with fleas.

    Some thoughts…the advice you’ve been given for the pets sounds good. That’s not our problem, as we can’t have pets at this point. However, we do have fleas that live in the walls of our house – yes, this is true – and find their way inside. We have been dealing with flea problems for years now – some years worse than others. So here are some thoughts on that.

    If you need to bathe either Lily or (gulp) Tunch, use regular baby shampoo. Soap cracks the exoskeletons of fleas and ticks and they’ll die.

    This is not true in our experience. Our first round with the fleas was when they would come in via a microscopic crack in the bathroom. They’d come into the bathtub – plenty of soap in the water when someone was having a bath (attracted to the heat, we think) – and bite whoever was having a bath. You’d get bites on whatever part of your body was at the water line. The fleas would swim – you could watch them in the water – and then crawl on you and bite. I know, this is disgusting, but true.

    We did find that a more concentrated dose of dishwashing soap in water would kill them, so perhaps it has to be a higher concentration of soap to water than we had in the bath. With a bad infestation we have a glass of soapy water in every room and pick them off our legs and put them in the glass. They drown not because of the water but because the soap means they can’t move in the water and crawl.

    I second the diatomaceous earth suggestion. In a bad infestation it looks like someone went mad with a sack of flour, both inside and outside our house. We sprinkle it everywhere. It works by cracking the skeletons of the fleas and it also works the same way on their eggs. It doesn’t work when wet, though, so if it rains you have to reapply it outside. Its non-toxic to humans and pets, from what I recall. It’s bad if you inhale it, though, as the dust is very fine and can hurt your lungs, so wear a mask and eye protection. We wear masks when applying it and when vacuuming it up. DO NOT buy the kind for swimming pools. That has additional chemicals and is toxic.

    We found an organic pesticide that works on fleas. We use one of those spray attachments to a hose and then hose down the main area where the fleas are outside. We do this from March onwards, every week or two. It seems to knock them back and keep them under control so we don’t get them in the house

    We have also fogged the house. If the infestation is bad inside, this is a quick method. Obviously it’s a pain – you have to cover everything, remove all pet items and pets, etc. And it’s also toxic. But sometimes it’s the only solution that works. We use it sparingly.

  67. 67
    Allan says:

    @eastriver: Do you teach the children in your life to be such smug self-righteous assholes? If so, please turn yourself into CPS and consider getting a dog instead.

  68. 68
    malraux says:

    The best answer is to check with your vet, especially since you’ll need both a few rounds of application for your cat and your dog. The vet should know what different bugs in the area are problematic and be able to give you the most appropriate one. You’ll probably need to use it for 4 months continuously now to deal with the flea infestation inside though. But the good antiflea agents screw with the reproductive system of the bugs, meaning that its hard for new populations to spread.

    Either way, if you are taking the dog outside at all, you really should be using something prophylacticly.

  69. 69
    Ed Drone says:

    … And here I thought the post was about tuning ukuleles! Till I read more than the headline, that is.


  70. 70
    Woodrowfan says:

    so, where’s a good place to see what dog foods are good and which are not?

  71. 71
    Jack Newhouse says:

    I originally used Advantage on my 3 dogs and cat and loved it, but about 12 years ago I sprayed my yard with parasitic nematodes (microscopic worms that kill insect larvae, esp. fleas) for two years in a row, and I haven’t had a single flea since on any of my animals. (Yes, it sounds nasty, spraying micro-worms, but it really worked for me)

    You can find the nematodes at garden-supply outlets, especially natural or organic, if you’re interested. Once they get established, they seem to stay, at least in my area (No. California)

  72. 72
    majkia says:

    we use sentinel, which is a pill for heartworms, ticks, and fleas. I’m allergic to flea bites so its an important thing for me. Sentinel is a pill you give your dog once a month.

    Expensive, relatively, but since we put our dogs on it, I’ve never had a bit, and none of the dogs have fleas.

  73. 73
    Slaney Black says:

    Things like- a harness is probably better for a small dog,

    My dog wears a harness – under doctor’s orders because he has a compromised airway. But barring medical necessity no dog should wear one. They don’t learn to walk properly which is frustrating both for you and for them.

  74. 74
    Just Dale says:


    We switched our huskies from Advantage to Sentinel a few years ago and wouldn’t go back.

    Sentinel is a once/month heartworm tablet that is also effective against fleas. It won’t eliminate a current flea infestation, but works well prophylacticly because it interferes with egg development. Combined with flea/tick shampoo every couple months it has kept our dogs (and house) flea-free for several years. We also use a couple spritzes of anti flea/tick spray if we’re going on an extended hike or camping trip where ticks might be a problem.

    Having switched, I wouldn’t go back. The dogs objected to the smell of advantage and we objected to the mess. Unlike Advantage, Sentinel doesn’t wash off, so if the dogs get into something that requires altering the bath schedule, it’s not an issue as far as flea protection. Cost of Sentinel isn’t cosmically different from the cost of Advantage + a hearworm pill, but you do need to get it from a Vet.

  75. 75
    swarty says:

    As for soap, I just got done washing my dog with liquid Dr. Bronners soap. Not sure if it’s the best thing, but I find using a liquid soap makes bath time go much easier. My guess is that dog and human soaps are somewhat similar.

    And you’re right. Walk the dog regularly. It’s great for them and great for bonding with the animal. I (or my wife) try and do a 3-4 mile walk every day. Our dog is a 70 pound Lab, so he really needs it.

    And we use Advantix and he has no ticks or fleas. And we live in the deer tick capital of the United States here in upstate NY.

  76. 76
    Morrigan says:

    Just got through this, John, with our new shelter dog and our existing cat. I know your pain.

    1. Treat your home with a flea pesticide. There are natural ones.

    2. Vaccuum every day, it sucks (pun intended), but it gets rid of them.

    3. Treat both Lily and Tunch. We used Frontline and it did a great job. As people said, cats and dogs use different meds, and it goes by weight…Tunch may need more than Lily. :)

    4. Treat the yard too.

    Prepare for a lifetime commitment to battling fleas and ticks. Part of being a proud dog owner. Love my Lab/Beagle mix, wouldn’t trade her for anything. Blood-sucking critters are just part of the deal.

    Good luck.

  77. 77
    cathaireverywhere says:

    @ Sarah- could the insects you are seeing be termites? Google image them and check it out. Fleas are also the size of a head of pin, and the little buggers jump around pretty quickly.

    I want to second the recommendation of both Dawn dishwashing soap and Comfortis. A fried of mine is a veterinarian, and she recommended both to me. My poor older dog has had terrible problems this year and neither the Frontline nor the Advantage did anything- the fleas must be immune. The Comfortis does seem to be working, though. My vet friend said that Dawn has the perfect ph balance, and I do find that my dogs’ fur is very soft after I use it.

  78. 78
    jim says:

    Have used k9 advantix for years on 2 dogs. works great. Never used anything on the indoor cat. Keeping fleas (and ticks) off of the dogs seemed to have kept them off her.

    Wash the bedding frequently.

  79. 79
    KevinNYC says:

    Things I’ve learned about having a dog.
    Had my dog for a year now and before that used to dogsit a friend’s dog for a while.

    Watching the Dog Whisperer show on cable has been very helpful.
    Here’s some tips
    Your energy and body language are of the utmost importance.
    Words are not, but if you use the same word to mean the same thing, they will pick it up.
    If you want a calm dog, don’t reward them, petting or feeding when they are wound up. I often would pour the food dish and hold it until they were able to sit calmly.
    You need to discipline your dog, but you should stay calm when you do it.
    When you discipline your dog, you have to be persistent enough so that you win. You have to get the dog to stop the behavior no matter how long it takes. Taking control of their territory and getting them to back up helps.

  80. 80
    Sanjiv Sarwate says:

    Frontline or Advantage should work fine for flea control. We made a mistake once switching from Frontline to some cheap stuff (Haartz, I think) that was available in the supermarket. Big big mistake. We had fleas within weeks. It was not good. We switched back to Frontline and haven’t had any problems.

    As far as what else to know about the dog, the big thing is socializing. Take your dog out and expose it to stuff, people and other dogs in particular. That’s pretty much the other big thing you need to know, and it’s pretty important.

  81. 81
    Death By Mosquito Truck says:

    john please do not poison your dog . fleas are part of the cycle of life and you should learn to live with them. if your dog lived in the wild she would have fleas which is where the old saying lay down with dogs wake up with fleas comes from. i stopped poisoning my dogs and by extension my family and environment and learned how to scratch behind my ears with my feet, it is not hard.

  82. 82
    bey says:

    @eastriver: Concern troll is concerned.

    JC you could move to 6500 ft. They say fleas really can live at this altitude, but 12 years, 8 cats and 1 dog later, I still haven’t seen one. Yet another reason why I love Colorado.

    No bugs. No humidity.

  83. 83

    Re: Lyme Disease vaccines. Both my dogs have received them. One still contracted Lyme disease. The vaccine is apparently only 50-80% effective, which means you still need to check coats regularly and use a monthly treatment.

    Lyme is, fingers crossed, readily treatable if caught early. King was on doxycycline for 1 month. In October, he will have bloodwork done to see whether the virus was beaten down. I am guessing that he may need to take antibiotics every so often for the rest of his life.

    There is a small chance that the vaccine itself can trigger a positive result, depending on the blood test used. One friend who trains and shows dogs doesn’t bother with either the Lyme vaccine or the Bordatella (kennel cough) vaccine because of spotty reliability.

  84. 84
    Pasquinade says:

    Budget Pet Care, a Canadian site, has great prices on Advantage Multi aka Advocate, and a 10% off sale now.



    I buy in volume (12) for my cats and my sister’s cats. Cost per pipette for large size was only $8.23 (purchased before the current 10% off sale) – far cheaper than my vet’s “special offer”, and cheaper than most other pet care sites. Plus free shipping on orders over $75.

  85. 85
    drunken hausfrau says:

    Two vets in the family — both recommend Frontline — flea and tick med. But get from the vet — you need the right dosage based on WEIGHT. Also, Tunch will need it, too.

    I have used it for both my cat and dog — won’t use anything else. Just be sure to apply to the skin, not the hair/fur. And don’t pet that part of their neck/head for a day or two without washing your hands.

  86. 86
    Karen says:

    I talked to my vet about chipping my dogs & she advised a tag on their collar, with their name, address & phone # is better. There are so many different brands of chips that are reader specific, it can almost be useless. So with their county license & rabies tag, they have their name tag as well. They are held on with that “S” shaped thing, not the little circular one that can be bent.

    We have no issue with fleas or ticks. They don’t seem to like the short summer or altitude in Colorado. What I do have to watch is shampoo. I can’t use anything other than a good oatmeal shampoo because anything else makes them itch, no matter how many times I rinse them. No conditioners either. After the fleas are gone, use the most gentle shampoo you can to be kind to her skin.

  87. 87
    gex says:

    @Slaney Black: Can you elaborate on how a harness prevents a dog from learning to walk on lead properly?

    I’m not quite a year into my first dog. When we adopted him, the adoption organization and the dog trainer picked out a harness for him because he was a puller. He isn’t really a puller anymore (I’ve worked on loose leash training). I guess I’m not entirely sure how a dog should walk on lead.

  88. 88
    Laura W says:

    @Death By Mosquito Truck: All this time I thought DougJ was doing BOB.
    Shit. I don’t know Jack.

  89. 89
    gex says:

    @Karen: I’ve been advised that you shouldn’t put the dog’s name on the tag. If someone wants to take your dog, giving them the name that the dog responds to is only helping them along. Put your name, address, and phone on the tag.

  90. 90
    db says:

    You call in Jack Bauer!

    Speaking of which, he is the same guy you call in when your state government is facing a potential shutdown.

    Arizona to call in Jack Bauer to solve the budget crisis with less than 24 hours to go.

    P.S. – Big Frontline fan here! It’s expensive when you use it as regularly as you are supposed to; but I’ve never had a problem with the 100 pound beast I’ve lugged around with me to various parts of this country.

  91. 91
    Mary says:

    @Karen: My dog somehow managed to lose her ID tag, which was held on by an S attachment, so I’m glad I have the chip as a backup.

    gex: regarding putting the dogs name on the tag, I guess it depends on which is the greater likelihood – that someone will try to steal your dog or that your dog will run away and some kind samaritan will try to catch it and get in touch with you.

  92. 92
    gex says:

    @Mary: I don’t think it’s an either or situation. With my name on the tag, they can still call me.

    I know the risk is low of someone trying to take your dog, but didn’t we have someone on yesterday’s thread whose Siberian Husky was stolen?

    I guess I just worry about that because Casey seems to really attract the attention of strangers. I think it is the snow-white fur.

  93. 93
    Matt D says:

    Not gonna read over what everyone has already posted, so this may be redundant:

    It’s been my experience that feeding the dog brewer’s yeast can help quite a bit. Also toss a flea collar in your vacuum cleaner bag when you vacuum–it’ll suck up the fleas and kill them.

    Finally I’ve heard bad things about the OTC shoulder drops, so you should probably get w/ a vet first.

  94. 94
    Lirpa says:

    I have found Drs. Foster and Smith dog food to be excellent. It has meat as the first ingredient and it honestly and truly somehow has reduced the size of the poop I have to pick up. The bag said it would and I didn’t believe it, but somehow my dogs wring every food morsel out of the kibble and leave less for me to pick up! Major bonus especially when walking them and having to carry a bag around for pick up.

    I have used their Bio Spot for years, on five of my dogs, and have been without fleas or ticks or mosquitoes (on the dogs, the mosquitoes still love ME!) for nine years living in a forest full of deer and tall grass meadows. My sixth dog had a negative reaction to it, though, I think because she has such a thin coat.

  95. 95
    MazeDancer says:

    K-9 Advantix is toxic to cats. Toxic. It’s the permethrin bug killer in it. Dogs can metabolize it. Cats cannot. (Google will substantiate)

    Cats groom themselves. Any that rubbed off Lily on say, the futon, or somewhere she might have walked, sat, or rolled over during the several hours it takes to dry, or via the hands of the applier grabbing a wiggling animal, or for any reason, could be ingested. And a cat will lick it off.

    While watching Tunch 24/7 is, indeed, fascinating, the addition of “did he get any on him” and “Is he licking some off now” might not really up the obsessive fun.

  96. 96
    Laura W says:

    @MazeDancer: Excellent point that has not been made as clearly and directly thus far. Especially in John’s house where both are allowed on furniture (My dog is not allowed up on beds, couches or chairs.)

    Confirms my comfort in using regular Advantage on cats and the dog as opposed to switching the dog over to Advantix.

  97. 97
    tde says:


    You can buy it online for much cheaper, esp. if you buy it from other countries.

  98. 98
    tde says:


    You can buy it online for much cheaper, esp. if you buy it from other countries.

    @Slaney Black: Can you elaborate on how a harness prevents a dog from learning to walk on lead properly?

    Harnesses permit or even encourage pulling against the leash. They may work for some dogs, but other dogs actually like the sensation of pulling against the harness. A properly trained dog should _never_ pull on the leash.

  99. 99
    Rossco says:

    Frontline Plus kills fleas and ticks and makes any live ones sterile so the egg cycle is broken. I use it on my pugs and cats and it works. I’ve been using it for several years.

    Don’t get a flea collar, they don’t work. Do give her a bath frequently with mild shampoo. The soap and water kill fleas, you don’t need flea shampoo that might be irritating to her skin.

    Vetshop online has the lowest prices anywhere:

    No I don’t work for them, but I do spend my money there.

  100. 100
    rickles says:

    I’m with those recommending Comfortis. It’s a 30-day dose, but after a couple of doses at the beginning of flea season I go to 45-days.

    As for the topicals, they didn’t work for us. By time I waited a day or two after bathing the dogs, they were infested again!

    We use Sergeant’s Goldline shampoo. It kills fleas on contact. I always bathe them in the shower because it’s easier to control them. I just get in with them, one at a time, and finish with my shower. We bathe them every 2 to 3 weeks.

  101. 101
    Arachnae says:

    Agree with all the posts about the ‘between the shoulder blades’ applications but take issue with the area-treatment recommendations. Once the pets have been treated, THEY will clean up the area of fleas. While they’re now toxic to fleas, they are not repellent, so fleas will hop on and die, Die, DIE.

    So the futon is saved.

  102. 102
    Michael Carpet says:

    One of my friends calls the retractable leash a “bad dog leash.” I use a six footer on Pete, works just fine.

  103. 103
    growingdaisies says:

    Just want to add my vote for Frontline. I live in Maryland and have no problems with fleas as long as I use it. I thought it had better staying power than Advantage (tried both), and I like that it takes care of the ticks. But you’ll probably be okay with either – just make sure you get something with a prescription. There are a lot of fake/ineffective over-the-counter flea control products that don’t do much besides give your dog a rash.

    I also use Sentinel for heartworms, which has the added benefit of preventing flea eggs from turning into fleas. So I double up that way.

    Flea collars and flea shampoos are no longer necessary, thank heaven, once you start using this stuff.

  104. 104
    Seanly says:


    My wife & I heard about Frontline loosing efficiency. Our vet has recommended that we stick with Frontline unless it stops working & then we should switch to Advantix. However, I think the point of sticking with Frontline is that the dogs have been using it. Price is about the same anyway.

    John: If Lily has never had any flea/tick then go with your vet’s recommendation.

    Can I say that I’m shocked you didn’t know the importance of flea/tick treatment? Seems like you did all the right homework before you got Lily.

    Before you begin using an medicine, I would suggest getting rid of all the fleas.

  105. 105
    tavella says:

    As (nearly) everyone else has said, use the miracle of modern chemistry: Advantage, Frontline, etc, type determined by what kind of bugs are about (for example, are you in a heartworm area?). One suggestion, though; you might want to use different brands for the dog and the cat. The formulation and dose that is okay for dogs is usually poisonous to cats, and having one be Frontline and another Advantage might help prevent accidents. Or perhaps using one of the pill formulations for Lily and the spot-type for Tunch.

    One of my friends was using Advantage for both her dog and cats, and had an awful scare when she absentmindedly used the dog’s on one of her cats. The cat was fine after a frantic scrub and a quick trip to the vet, but it was frightening at the time.

  106. 106
    TuiMel says:

    I have used Frontline Plus (includes protection against ticks) for eight years. My JRT is and always has been flea free. It is not cheap, but, believe me, it is money well spent. Fleas are a problem, and if the dog is allergic, the skin conditions can be very nasty.

    I’m sure that Advantage works well, too; all the testimonials cannot be wrong. Choose one and try it out – the sooner the better!

  107. 107
    tavella says:

    Also, you don’t really need to spray/treat for fleas once you are using the meds, unless you have a crazy huge infestation. The pets will be flea magnets, and the fleas will bite them and die.

  108. 108
    Anne Laurie says:

    Resistance to the dab-on flea treatments is *very* localized, so check with the shelter where you got Lily to see which variety they use, and then cross-check with your vet to see what s/he thinks. Make sure the vet knows (remembers) that you’ve got a cat as well, because some of the dog treatments are not safe for cats to share a futon with. Since access to the veterinarian is not a problem for you, I’d have the first treatment done in their office, just in case Lily is in the tiny tiny fraction of dogs who has a bad reaction to the chemicals. (I’m assuming you’re already using some kind of heartworm preventive on a regular basis, because that shite is NASTY and far too prevalent to neglect.)

    If Lily will eat brewers yeast tablets, or you can sprinkle the powder on her food, it will make her smell ‘not like lunch’ to fleas & mosquitos in the future. (Yes, this works for people, too.) Only problem is that it takes 3 weeks to be effective, and you have to remember to keep using it regularly.

    Since you’re Furminating Tunch every day, and the Furminator blades are almost flea-comb narrow, I think you’d know already if he’d picked up fleas from Lily. You may want to ask the vet about a one-time spot treatment for poor Tunch just in case.

    Using borax and/or diatomaceous earth on the carpets, along the baseboards, in the cupboards under the sink, in the vacuum-cleaner bags, and on whatever Lily-accessible upholstery you can’t launder is also a good idea. A cheapoflea trap near the futon will help you monitor the situation going forward.

    Lily may already have been microchipped by the shelter. I personally think it’s a cheap form of insurance, since most animal control bureaus & shelters automatically ‘wand’ every dog they pick up. I’m told the codes are much more standardized these days, and even if the chip can’t be ‘read’ its existence means that somebody cared enough to have the chip injected. Not necessarily a great advantage in West Virginia, but in a high-kill area where “homeless” dogs are euthanized in as little as 48 hours, knowing that someone might come looking for a chipped dog may literally be the difference between life and death.

  109. 109
    lawnorder says:

    Frontline worked well for me, for cats and dogs but never got my house 100% flea free. Only thing that did it was a flea bomb and the house closed for 3 days and after that no pets.

    But you don’t need to despair, fleas won’t bite YOU while there’s better a meal to be had (Tunch and Lily), so as long as you keep the house vacuumed and them treated with Frontline in the summer, you all should be fine.

    My biggest worry was always ticks, because of Lime disease. Since Lily is frequently outdoors, you should examine her frequently. And spray your yard with a “tick, flea, ants” prevention solution.

    And don’t forget about heart worm!! One tablet a month, during mosquito season.

    PS: The Monks of New Skete are nice but if you want a hitting / choking free training style, try getting some books on clicker training. Works pretty well with sweet dogs.

  110. 110
    growingdaisies says:

    Oh, a couple more things, now that I think about it.

    Be sure to wait a couple days after bathing your dog before you apply Frontline or Advantage. The vet will probably tell you this, but the oils need to build up in the skin in order to distribute the treatment. I bathe the dog, wait three days, then apply.

    All the treatments say they will withstand bathing. I don’t really buy it — they always seem weakened afterwards. So once I apply Frontline, I try my best to go a full month before I bathe the dog again.

  111. 111
    TuiMel says:

    I would recommend using the treatment year round.

  112. 112
    Evolutionary says:

    Didn’t get to read the whole thread yet. We use Frontline on our dog Tasha and she used to hate it and try to squrim and pull away before I had it all squeezed on!

    I finally realized she didn’t like the cold (relatively speaking) liquid, so now I put the container unopened in my pocket and let it warm to body temp. After a half hour or so I apply it and she doesn’t even notice it.

  113. 113
    Michael says:

    Brush her with a wire brush at least twice a week. It pulls out the fleas and disrupts the eggs, all without potentially harmful chemicals.

  114. 114
    troglaman says:

    Advantage. Instant results. I’ve gotten by with one application a year.

  115. 115
    Quackers says:

    Flea collars are crap, but it works to put one (or cut off part of one and wrap the remainer airtight for later use) in your vacuum bag or dirt recepticle. It will take care of fleas you suck up.

    You can use a good metal flea comb that will trap the fleas in the fine teeth and then pick them off the comb and put them in a marg bowl with some water and dishwashing soap. If you don’t put soap in the water they’ll escape. The flea comb will also pull out flea feces which is an indicator that your dog has them. Looks like black pepper but will turn red on a white damp napkin.
    Otherwise, I use Advantage if my three get fleas. They are gone within 24 hours. I only see fleas on mine in late autumn if at all. It might be a good idea to have Lily checked for tapeworm also since they get them from swallowing fleas that carry them.

  116. 116
    GeneJockey says:

    Advantage. It’s even safe for the highly chemically-sensitive Greyhounds.

  117. 117
    Clutch414 says:

    I use the once a month K9 Advantix on my 16 month-old black lab. My brother is a veterinarian and he recommends it. DO NOT, and I repeat, DO NOT make the mistake of using anything made by Hartz-Mountain. It contains a chemical called phenothrin that has been linked to serious illness and even death in dogs.

  118. 118
    recusancy says:

    Revolution. Used it forever and never had a flea or tick or heartworm problem.

  119. 119
    Deborah says:

    One more vote for Advantix, which we use for ticks. It also works on fleas, but we’ve never had them. Because of the lyme risk it’s a good idea, so if she carries any ticks in they will a) die before giving her lyme disease, maybe, b) die before moving on to you or Tunch.

    My son had Lyme, and whenever I mentioned it my listener invariably either had had lyme, or had a close relative who had–one of his friends got to be the “classic lyme representation with 40 concentric rings” visual aid for the entire doctors’ practice.

    If you are opposed to the shoulder blade stuff my mil used garlic pills for ticks; I have no idea how fleas feel about garlicky blood.

    Our kittens had fleas when we got them, and their shoulder blade stuff (Frontline) worked within a couple of days.

  120. 120
    Death By Mosquito Truck says:

    We’re gonna have to decide this one with a poll.

  121. 121
    Delia says:


    Hey, thanks for the tip on that budget pet care site. I just ordered my cat’s Advantage and some generic Heartguard for my dog, which is not available in the States.

    My vet has said the Frontline hasn’t been working for a lot of people in our area and switched me to something expensive called Vectra for the dog. But I’m thinking of trying K9 Advantix or something that I can get for a good price on that site.

  122. 122
    LiberalTarian says:

    Since starting work in pesticide regulation, I have become more and more pesticide phobic. These chemicals are poisons–you are not the acute target, the insect is, but you and your animal are the chronic targets.

    Like the person said above, get used to fleas–they are with you as long as your pets are. But, you can make your home flea-intolerant and make your pets taste nasty to fleas. The following links are helpful:

    Mother Earth News: The comments are also helpful.

    Obviously, there are times you might want to use chemicals, but you can try to avoid it. You are already exposed to a multitude of organic chemicals and pesticides, as are your pets, through food/water/air, and not to mention those fabulously green lawns they love, weed-free walkways, etc.

  123. 123
    tim says:

    RETRACTABLE LEASHES ARE AWESOME. Why would you NOT want to use one?

  124. 124
    oh really says:

    Revolution. Three cats. Zero fleas.

    Usually, if you buy six, you get a seventh free.

  125. 125
    dino says:

    ive used frontline for my cats and it works

  126. 126
    Meg says:

    I used “Frontline Plus” on my cat and the friend who recommended it used it on his dog. It works perfectly.
    And I did not even have to bath the cat.
    She would have killed me if I tried.

    There are Frontline for cats and Frontline for dogs.
    You should treat both Lily and Tunch.

  127. 127
    cindy says:

    first, check with your vet. mine offers both frontline and advantage/advantix but prefers frontline. find out what concentration you need for lily – frontline, at least, changes by animal weight for dogs but cats all use the same concentration. it’s worked well for me – once a month on the dog and once every 3 months on the (indoor) cats. it’s important to treat both the dog and the cat.

    once you know what concentration you’ll need, shop around. amazon has frontline at 6 for $65 with free shipping; my local costco (baltimore) has dog frontline at 3 for $35, but none for cats. i found that out after paying $20 for a dose – my vet takes returns, but some don’t. it’s worth it to put out the $20 for the first dose if you have a flea infestation b/c it really works well.

    you can bathe the dog 3 days after applying frontline; check with your vet (you mentioned skin problems before) to see if a medicated shampoo is needed; if not, get a good quality shampoo (i like cloud star and origins) that will soothe the skin from the bites and wash away flea dirt and other nasty stuff.

    vacuum the house and furniture and wash their bedding and throw away the vacuum bag – fleas can breed in there.

    i don’t use any chemical flea/tick repellent in the winter; i use an herbal oil called “flea chaser” on their collars and bedding, and keep sachets of the herbs in with their towels, spare bedding, etc. my vet recommends year round treatment w/the chemicals, but i’ve never had a problem.

    good luck, fleas are no fun.

  128. 128
    gex says:

    @Delia: Delia, please note upthread where someone pointed out that K-9 Advantix is toxic to cats. So if you have a cat too, you should look at Advantage not Advantix.

  129. 129
    Uloborus says:

    Yay, time to use my Entomology Degree!

    For practical purposes of picking a pesticide, I cannot help you. But I can give you some advice based on knowing what an interesting and unique and bastardly animal the flea is.

    People tell you to vacuum with borax, wash bedding, pesticide everywhere… they are NOT KIDDING. Once the flea is in your household, it makes cockroaches look hard to kill. The vacuuming is particularly important. Fleas generally pupate in the carpet, can remain alive up to a year that way, and are almost impossible to kill by ANY means until they hatch.

    If you see fleas, act fast so they don’t start breeding, wash everything that could conceivably have a flea (anything your pets sit on and is made of cloth is a very likely target). Don’t be reluctant to do this repeatedly.

    Fleas have two crucial traits you can remember. They can only get nourishment by eating one species (usually). Dog fleas will bite you and Tunch, but can’t breed that way. And they’re some of the most unbelievably durable animals on the planet, capable of resurfacing long after you thought them gone.

    That’s the simplified version, anyway. Good luck.

  130. 130
    Morrigan says:

    Thank you, Uloborus. When we got INFESTED a couple of months ago, my vet emphasized over and over that we must vacuum every day. We also have a sanitary setting on our washing machine, we use it on all bedding. Between that, Frontline, and treating the house and yard, the fleas are gone. But I know they’ll pop right back up again if I stop treating the dog and cat monthly.

    Dastardly little critters, indeed.

  131. 131
    beabea says:

    I am not an entomologist, but I’ll second what Uloborus said…

    I treat my dog with Advantage (+ Interceptor for heartworm), and indoor cats get Revolution (btw I have found the best deal on that from Drs. Foster & Smith). But I had stopped treating my outdoor cats for fleas…big mistake. I think I brought fleas inside on my clothes after playing with the outdoor cats.

    Vaccuum the heck out of everything daily, wash anything washable in hot water. Don’t forget to change your vacuum cleaner bag frequently or it turns into a flea-breeding tank. I used Fleabusters borate powder on carpets, hardwood floors, and crevices in upholstered furniture. Fleabusters nematodes in the yard; they apparently eat fleas.

    Lot of work, but it worked. Fleas are a bitch. Do not mess around with them. Good luck!

  132. 132
    Zuzu's Petals says:

    John –

    Didn’t you say she had some sort of skin condition on her back, like a flea allergy? I take it that’s improving.

    My cat had a flea allergy reaction that made her lose half her hair. In addition to the shot for the condition, the vet had me change from Advantage to Revolution. I guess it might be stronger.

    Someone here recommended brewer’s yeast and/or garlic ingested as a natural repellent. Soon after I found that combo in pill form for cats. One of mine loves it…I have to mix it in with the other one’s food. At any rate, I’m giving it a try. I’m thinking they have the pills for dogs too.

    Oh, and I second (third?) the chip suggestion.

  133. 133
    sheiler says:

    Um, I have thankfully not had to deal with fleas on my dog. Not sure if it’s his Malamute coat (numerous vets have said mosquitos and fleas won’t get to him) or just dumb ass luck. We get him tested for heartworm, and give him shots and heartworm pills every year. But we also spray our yard with this concentrated liquid garlic. Smells like a pizzaria for about 5 mins, and then dissipates for us, while keeping flying pests away. We live up in Mosquito loving Quebec…in the woods. The garlic kills ticks, fleas, mosquitos right away. While our neighbors literally can’t go out on their deck to enjoy the view, we are sitting on our deck, drinking vino, listening to Feist with our dog, enjoying the stars.

    I also read that there’s a food grade liquid garlic that you can put into the dog’s food that will kill any larvae or whatnot. Haven’t tried that yet. But there’s a link for that from the mosquito barrier site. I have been using their garlic for the last 5 years — love it!

  134. 134
    Aaron says:

    Frontline for the dog, and the cat.
    Vacuum the house. vacuuming is very effective at killing fleas.
    clean everything in the laundry with borax added.
    Flea eggs can lie dormant for months so keep using the frontline. once the eggs hatch, they will jump back on your pets, and the frontline will kill them.

  135. 135
    abo gato says:

    We use Advantage/Multi….works for heartworm as well as fleas. I have to second what Jack said about using beneficial nematodes. I try to be an organic gardener (so much better for your pets….I am firmly convinced that so many people have health problems in pets because they spray all this crap in their yards and then the dogs and cats walk in it and absorb it thru their pads and/or lick it off) and have found that spraying those nematodes will really help a lot. You do need to have water in the ground to keep them alive, so the current drought we are having in S. Texas is making it hard to keep the nematodes going, but if there is enough to keep your grass alive, then there is enough to keep the nematodes alive. I have to spray every year because there are lots of wildlife here and other neighbors who don’t treat like this, but it will help a lot. They’ll also help you with some other pests. Also, get Lily chipped. You don’t want her lost now that you’ve found her.

  136. 136
    billgerat says:

    I buy Advantage medium dog dosage for mine. I use one on my lab/spaniel dog, and split a tube on my two chihuahuas. I save a few drops from the lab/spaniel and use them on my two outdoor cats. I never have a flea problem. Avoid flea collars at all costs.

  137. 137
    sab says:

    Do put a flea collar in your vaccuum cleaner bag. My experience is it’s a waste on your dog (but your dog is much smaller than mine, so it might work on her.) If you vaccuum up the fleas on the dog fur lying around the house, it’s nice if the fleas don’t reproduce in your vaccum before the dog fur fills the bag and you put it in the trash. Otherwise the collars are worthless. Who cares if the neck is flea-less if the bugs are chewing on the dog’s rump or feet. Of course, on a small dog, the neck collar might take out all the fleas. Not so on a big dog. Frontline and Advantage each worked fine for a 120 pound dog who walked daily on a public park trail with lots of fleas.

  138. 138
    Lesley says:

    It wouldn’t hurt to take Lily to a professional groomer – a good one – to start. A local reputable vet may be able to make recommendations for fleas and the groomer. If you do take her to a groomer stay with her because she might panic at being left with a stranger so soon.

    Avoid the toxic sludge and opt for natural solutions that protect both Tunch and Lil as per…

    There are also many natural tick and flea remedies available. Some of these products contain cedar oil and rosemary to help kill ticks and fleas. These all natural sprays do not dry the animal’s skin and they also help sooth irritation and itching caused by ticks and fleas. Natural tick and flea products are especially helpful for pets with sensitive skin or with skin allergies as chemical products will irritate the skin. Natural tick and flea killers are also beneficial for pregnant pets, or pregnant pet owners, as the chemicals in flea and tick killers can be harmful to the unborn baby. Common ingredients used in natural flea killers that are applied directly to the pet are eucalyptus and citronella. A well known herb from India has also been used to kill flees for centuries and is a common additive. Pyrethrums, which are derived from Chrysanthemum flowers, also help keep flees at bay. Pet owners can even make their own all natural flea powder by mixing fennel, rosemary, wormwood, yellow dock and rue together and sprinkling it on the pet. Sodium borate can also be sprinkled on the carpet to help control ticks. Sodium borate will dry up both fleas and their larvae and is effective for up to one year after being applied to a carpet.

  139. 139
    WhenPigsFly says:

    I’m not able to read all the comments, but I feel certain someone’s already said this. However, just in case: PLEASE DON’T USE FLEA COLLAR, SOAP, SPRAY or SPOT MEDS!!

    Google “Warning Flea Products” and you’ll see why.

    Don’t even use the “safe” products that you can buy at the vet’s.

    Buy a simple flea comb. It’s cheap, but most of all, it’s safe.(Google “using flea comb” to see what you do with the fleas you pick up).

    This should be a part of the daily routine (use it on Tunch, too); I’ve never seen a dog who didn’t love it. Tunch may be another story.

    PS: I love your posts about Lily; I used to have a white terrier mix who looked just like her.

  140. 140
    Gravenstone says:

    Way late to the party and only skimmed about half the posts. But I did a little digging and have a handful of comments.

    Advantage has a single active ingredient, imidacloprid. It is usable for both cats and dogs. Interestingly, this material is a synthetic analogue to nicotine and acts as a systemic insecticide.

    Advantix is Advantage plus a second active ingredient, permethrin. This is used only on dogs as the second ingredient is highly toxic to cats. Permethrin is often used as an agricultural insecticide.

    Both of the above are made by Bayer.

    Frontline has two active ingredients listed, fipronil and S-methoprene. As others have mentioned above, the latter acts to interrupt the flea reproductive cycle. Again, this product is usable on both cats and dogs and is currently an OTC formulation as Frontline Plus. Based on the character of fipronil and its mechanism of action, I personally would steer quite a wide berth of any products containing it, but that’s a personal view.

    – Someone else mentioned Bio Spot. That appears to be primarily a formulation of permethrin and S-methoprene. As such it would be useable for dogs only. I can’t speak directly to this, but I would highly recommend talking to your vet about any potential cross contamination issues if you choose a product for Lily that may be toxic to Tunch (eg. one containing permethrin).

    – Another mentioned Revolution, a Pfizer product, It looks like its active ingredient is selamectin, which interrupts the nervous system of parasites. A relatively new compound so there’s not a lot out there about it yet, at least in the open domain.

    That should be enough chem geeking for now. Basically, research anything you consider using, talk to your vet (especially since most of the compounds currently require a scrip) and be alert for potential (although rare) side effects. And as several others have pointed out, you have to treat the whole house, not just the pets. Fleas are pernicious little bastards and notoriously difficult to wipe out without significant effort.

  141. 141
    geordie says:

    I’m also very late, but want to say that I adopted a dog recently (a wonderful dog, Rottweiler mix, 70 pounds of pure love and ambiability) whose ONLY fault was bringing in fleas that are apparently resistant to Frontline, which I have used for years with great success. My Border Terrier Sophie, who’d never had a flea issue in her 11 1/2 years, was just miserable, and the fleas just laughed at Frontline. I called my vet, and they had something called Comfortas, a pill once a month. I know, it sounds like a Harry Potter spell or something, but it worked just like one – in 4 hours, as promised, the fleas were dying, and they are GONE! Frontline resistance seems to be pretty common and what I’ve read is that you can go back to it after using something else for a while – so if your little girl’s fleas are Frontline resistant, ask your vet about Comfortas.

    Do NOT use any over the counter stuff – there have been many recent reports that all of that stuff can be toxic to dogs and cats. They’ve changed some formulations recently or something. Don’t go near it – get something from your vet.

  142. 142
    Jen says:

    @Slaney Black:

    I must beg to differ here. I agree that harnesses don’t teach your dog how to heel, but they aren’t all frustrating. Our dog is (to the best guess of everyone we know) a Beagle/Lab mix (weird combination, but really, she’s beautiful). Her enthusiasm when walking is boundless, and after obedience classes and much training she still pulled on her collar, gasping for air. Now, I’ll be the first person to admit that we should’ve been more persistent with her training, but our obedience trainer recommended the EasyWalk harness, and we have never looked back! The leash ring is in the middle of her chest, so if she pulls it turns her around to face us. She learned almost instantly that pulling was pointless (without the discomfort of a choke chain) and has been happy and bouncy on her walks ever since. I’ve converted others who’ve had problems walking their dogs. I see so many people in our neighborhood walking dogs straining at their collar that I’ve considered buying a bunch and giving them out as a good will gesture to the poor dogs!! :)

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