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Respect the flea!
14 years ago
One must understand and respect the flea to be rid of the flea!

Let me explain the flea, its lifecycles and the problems that occur when there is a flea infestation. Oh, and how to fix it..

First off, there are 4 lifecycle stages. This is the Egg, larvae, pupae, and adult.

The flea will lay her eggs on the animal, these eggs, being smooth and rounded, will fall off the animal onto carpet, upolstry, basically anywhere in your house. THe flea egg is resistant to insecticides, but can be killed with a number of INSECT GROWTH REGULATORS (IGR's). The eggs will hatch usually within 10 days. Fleas can lay thousands of eggs in its lifetime.

After the egg stage comes the larvae stage.The larvae look like tiny white worms. These develop in the house (or wherever the eggs were dropped). These larvae feed on the adult flea feces (animal blood..aka flea dirt) that fall off the animal. Larvae can be killed by insecticides, borates, and IGR's. This stage greatly depends on tempature and humidity.

The larvae spin cocoons in nice dark places (such as carpets and the like) starting the pupae stage. Now, pupae can lie dormant for months and months. They are resistant to freezing, drying, and insecticides. They are stimulated into the next stage by warmth, vibrations (such as your cat running by), and increased carbon dioxide levels.

The new (young) flea can live quite a few days without a host, environment be willing. This is the part of the story when humans get bit. If the new flea cannot get to a cat or dog, human blood is next best. These guys don't live on humans though, we serve a a quick temporary host until they can find a permanant home. Fleas can live 16 days or longer on an animal, but only a few days otherwise.

Fleas can cause a number of problems for your pet. Some of them being FAD or Flea Allergy Dermatitis. If your pet is allergic to fleas, it may only take one flea bite to cause a reaction!

Another problem caused by fleas is anemia. Remember fleas feed on blood. If your pet is flea ridden, immunocompromised, malnourished, young, old, or outdoors, it can be a dangerous and deadly problem! (I recently had a cat die of this last week. It is horrible, preventable and extremely sad)!

Also, fleas carry a parasite known as the tapeworm. Your pet will get tapeworms as they groom themselves and accidentally ingest the flea. The tapeworm will attach itself to the small intestine and share your pets meal.

So, now you know about fleas, but how do you get rid of them? Well, you'll have to read my next post because i've run out of room....  
fleas part duce
14 years ago

I heard someone say garlic. Well, if it works for you then so be it. Who an i to say it doesn't, right? But garlic, i am told, itsn't the safest thing for your pet (kind of like onions). But also, if garlic was a sure fire way to be rid of fleas, why are there so many flea products on the market? Just food for thought...literally. Of course, flea products can be dangerous, after all, their purpose is to kill, right? But what's worse? The flea products (that are much safer for you pet these days) or, after what you've read so far, the, flea itself?
Here are a few common vet reccommended products...

Program/ sentinel: Monthly pill or liquid that you give on a full stomach. it will not kill adults but will cause them to produce sterile eggs. It will take quite a few months to get rid of the infestation so use it with other products.

Advantage: topical ointment placed between the shoulders. Good for sensitive cats and will get rid of fleas in 24 hrs. Lasts about a month but washes off. (use weekly if bathing is needed on a regular basis).

frontline: This stuff rids your pets of fleas and ticks. It comes in spray or topical (between the shoulders) and is absorbed via the hair. it lasts for 3 months for ticks but use monthly for flea infestations or bathing. Can be used on puppies and kittens 8 weeks and up. The spray has the potential to cause slight adverse ractions in cats.
Frontline plus has an IGR that will control eggs and adults.

Revolution: Monthy heartworm and flea preventive and can be used in pups and kittens. As well as adult fleas, it kills mange (sarcoptic), earmites, ticks, roundworms, and hookworms. Applyed just like frontline, the fleas will injest the product and die off slowly. It lso will hinder the developement of eggs.

Capstar: Kills adult fleas immediately. Can be used on pups and kittens 2 pounds and over and can be used a often as once a day. It is ment to be used with an IGR.

Dips and shampoos. You should talk to a professional groomer about these products. I know they are much safer than they used to be. Also dips last longer than shampoos.

household sprays and bombs: Talk to your vet and pet store/ exterminator about these products. Look for IGR's. Cover all fishtanks and food when using. Remove all pets and humans from the house when using these products. They won't always penetrate deep into carpets.

The key to fleas and its young in the house is to keep it clean. Vaccume constantly and get that vaccume bag out of the house as soon as you're done!! Also, if your pet has been in the car, you'll need to treat/ vaccume that too.

13 years ago

Most flea products only kill the fleas on the dog and don't harm the eggs that are lying around, which is why they alone are rarely successful. If your dog goes outside, rake any dusty area that it often lies on. (Flea eggs don't do too well on damp ground.) When the fleas hatch they lie in wait for a vibration, then jump up in the hope of landing on something warmblooded. Raking the ground will get them jumping around, but they will die soon after if they don't feed. Try to prevent your dog getting fleas from around the enighborhood, or neighbourhood dogs coming onto your property.

Also, get a fine tooth flee comb from your vet and come your pet's hair after the treatment.

If your vet doesn't tell you these things they aren't doing their job.

May I add one thing?
13 years ago

Someone suggested to me that I put some Boric Acid inside the vaccuum bag.  It sounded like a very good idea to me!

Thank you for the very fine explanation of a flea's life cycle.  I think I will print it out and put it somewhere where I can look at it frequently.  With three dogs and my special kitty kat, this summer has been very difficult where those dastardly little insect are concerned. My kitty suffers from AD and I am going to have her fur shaved under her neck so that I can treat the lesions she keeps scratching at.

Cut up a flea collar
13 years ago

and add it to your vacuum cleaner bag. That helps kill any fleas you vacuum up.

okay, they have my respect....
12 years ago

HOWEVER....I'm also very angry at them.  We just arrived to HI (flea free, you HAVE to be) only to get into our new home and now we are infested.  My cats are breaking my heart by being so flea ridden at this point.  I bombed the house (bad idea...I only pissed them all off), I've shampooed the cats (I have a dog but he doesn't seem to have them as badly) and they HATED me for that one.  I'm combing them, three, four or more times everyday.  I'M covered in flea bites as well.  They are driving me NUTS! 

So, here is my problem.....obviously the issue was with the house when we moved in.  I've had a professional come in and treat the place but they are still bad.  We HAD to Frontline everyone before we arrived and yet they still have fleas. 

What can I do?  Dip them in something?  Use flea powder on them?  I thought Frontline was good stuff.....I'm having my doubts.  What can I do about the red spots they are getting from all the scratching? 

What can I do for me too? 

Someone, please help me.  I'm desperate.  And I think the fleas know it.  They are winning. 

I've only been here a week (we are here for two years) and I'm already ready to go home...back to AK where we don't have to deal with this stuff. 

I'm concerned about all of my kids but my oldest has me concerned the most.  He is 15....kidney problems, heart murmur...what should I do for him and his flea issues? 

I just want to cry about this.  (I have too) 

can anyone help?

thank you


12 years ago

I feel for you Jen, I really do, and hope the problem is solved for you very soon.  I had a similar flea crisis throughout my home some years ago now, and thank God not much since.  I found fleas in our bed when I folded down the duvet... yuk!  I've heard of bombs but never seen one before.  I got a can of Acclaim from the vets, sprayed a very generous amount all over the house on carpets etc, right in the corners.  More than what said on the can cos I was desperate and angry! lol  We had to leave the house for half an hour to let the fumes do their work.  I also have used Frontline liquid on the pets, on the back of the necks, and it cleared the dogs but the cat was trickier.  I bathed our cat with a Neem shampoo, primarily because I'd heard of Neem's healing qualities for skin conditions on people.  (Neem is a medicinal tree from India.)  Our poor cat had horrendous sores where fleas had bitten her, kept scratching etc etc.  Turned out fleas couldn't stand the stuff!  Yay!  Glorious bonus and even more perfect for our cat.  When washing her, I noticed many fleas "running away" from the shampoo to her nose.   (Apparently its an excellent natural remedy for headlice in children too.)

I think its good to use whatever you can to repel the fleas, and other insects, as back up support to what vets would advise you use.  Like having your own army against the little ...!  Insects generally do not like lemon, tea tree, eucalyptus, lavender, and the recent one I learned was rose geranium.  (My current gripe is with ticks... nasty things!) so I'm going to put some drops of oil on the dogs collars to help repel those who think they can take bites out of us!  There's probably more oils that would help, I'm sure lots of folk here will have good suggestions for extra defence, in the home and on our pets.

Ok, I'm sure I read somewhere that putting salt down on our carpets helps against fleas too???  Can anyone back that up?   Can't remember where I read it now.

Oh and I also have given yeast tablets to the pets and taken them myself too in the past, to repel insect biters.  It certainly worked on me, all the flies even stopped landing on me! 

Good luck with the fight.

love Bluebell

12 years ago

I started a thread for you and your situation

12 years ago

I HAD to share this!  Just wanted to check on my salt theory and its there on this site, with lots of other stories, suggestions from vets, exterminators, and folk with lots of experience from seemingly impossible fleas!  I've even just seen good old cider vinegar mentioned, it amazes me how much that stuff does! lol

12 years ago

I found out using rubbing alcohol does wonders. After we treated out cats there was a flea on the back of Pooh's neck, so I dipped a Q-tip in alcohol & touched the flea, well needless to say that flea was not moving & I picked that sucker off. 

When I vacuum I soak a couple cotton balls in alcohol & vacuum it up, also Peppermint oil works to.

11 years ago
Thank you all so much for your help. I m going to try the Borax next. Frontline is an expensive and useless product, I have used it many times on the poor cats and it works for a while but doesn't do the trick! It makes my cats sick and they have the dry heaves for days and I dont like the chemicals. thanks again
11 years ago
I've had good success with Frontline on my dogs and my cats, but you do have to reapply every month. And it cost exactly half what the vet's office will charge at this website: I learned about lemons being a deterrent to fleas from our dog. When he was a puppy, his first 'balls' were the lemons he found under the tree in the front yard. We lived in a sort-of rural setting on a canyon road with all kinds of animals about, domestic and wild, but Cedric never got fleas, and I'm sure it's because he was constantly permeated with the scent of lemon from his regular exercise of rolling his body on top of those lemons in his bed. Because I learned that all our dogs would do the same given the opportunity, I'm convinced that dogs know lemons (citrus?) are good for them even if they don't know why. So, put a lemon in your dog's bed as a little extra insurance in the prevention area.
Thank you, Bluebell, for the headsup on Meem shampoo - do you know where I can get some?
I'd be very cautious with the web
11 years ago

If the offer seems too good to be true ie ultra low prices from a web site I'd be careful.  Even if you order the product and it looks to be in different or unsealed packaging, err on the side of caution and don't use it.  Just go with your gut reaction. 

Cedar is also a natural insect repellant. Placing a bit in your fur kids bed (tucked inside the bedding where it cannot be chewed) will help repel fleas and I've heard some folks will place the shavings in a mesh bag then rub their pups all over with it distributing the oil onto the coat. 

11 years ago

     Please read the link post too, as it goes along with this one about Fleas...

Hope this information helps.  Nothing worse than your pets and you haveing problems with fleas.


This thread has me fearing the flea!
11 years ago

I have not had flea problems, but this thread has me thinking kitty's sleeping at the foot of the bed may not be such a good idea, I have no carpeting in the house and I use a wet/dry shop vacuum on my upholstered furniture daily and wash the cushions and larger, removable cushions covers every other week.I wash bedding once a week.And my poochies get a weekly bath with a general use shampoo, followed by a cool blow drying with a hair blower then an extra long brushing and once a month they have a bath with flea shampoo,my Kitty's have a bath once a month,Luna enjoys her bath,but sunny's bath is as quick as possible because even though tolerates it she verbally & very loudly makes it clear she is by no means enjoying a bath.I also use flea powder for cats on Luna & sunny.

11 years ago
To get rid of flees in carpets, sprinkle some salt around leave on the carpet for a while, say all day or all night, and then you can vacume it up.  The fleas will eat it and die.
11 years ago

Sorry!  But this is from my late Grandmother...

Little fleas have lesser fleas upon their backs to bite them, and lesser fleas have smaller fleas...and so ad infinitum!!

Joking apart.  If you have domestic pets, you have a potential flea problem.  My animals sometimes get them and sometimes I get bitten by them.  We live with it, we deal with it (usually with Advantix as it is called here.  Yes..fleas...if left to reproduce like mad, can produce lots of other problems..but the odd flea is not the end of the world!!!  A lot of people seem to get fanatic about it! 

11 years ago

In my old place, I had 'Fleabusters' powder professionally applied. This is now availble a pet stores. It's the basic borax treatment, and they applied it heavily, worked it into the carpet well and it was left until the next day to vacuum. 

The borax suffocates and dries them out. It worked VERY well.

11 years ago
Just reading all this makes me itch!!
11 years ago
Lynn-you're very right..a flea from time to time probably isn't much to worry about provided the animal doesn't have the sensitivities that some do to them.  Here in my part of Florida, it seems like fleas help to actually "make up" part of the soil and sand 
So in my case, it's usually like there is an army of them waiting for an opportunity....which I try not to give them
11 years ago

Fleas prefer certain environments to other environments. Warm and moist (temperate) climes are usually their preference, but this isn't to say they are not found or thrive in the colder, drier climes too! Esp. in winter when they can march into your warm cozy heated houses and set up shop.

As long as you maintain a tidy environment (vacuuming regularly) and your pets bedding / nap areas are kept clean and tidy as well as having them on a flea program of sorts IF you are in a high flea risk area then you really shouldn't have a problem - even if you have indoor/outdoor pets.

There was a good piece of advice posted during the initial stages of this thread. Maintaining a tidy garden/yard is also beneficial as fleas love to harbor under leaf debris and in nooks & crannies.

And another good piece of info. for owners of "indoor only" pets: remember YOU can bring a flea home and ALL it takes is ONE flea to create a problem - whether it's infestation or flea allergies. So, you too, will need (or should) take the same measures as the owner with "indoor/outdoor" pets.

This post was modified from its original form on 15 Feb, 22:14

11 years ago

Does regularly washing your pets bedding/blankets with regular laundry soap in cold water kill any fleas living in the bedding/blankets (No hot water here except for the plug in shower head attached shower water heater)

11 years ago
I would imagine it drowns them, and you don't need the water to be hot for that, but that is just my guess.
11 years ago
If you use a dryer I think the dry heat might kill them? Not sure just thought I'd throw that out there. Or would that make their population explode?
11 years ago

Basically what you are doing by regular cleaning of their bedding (if possible) is similar to why you clean your own bed sheets / linen. It's basically decreasing skin sloughing, shedding (hair build-up), AND in so decreasing the desire and luscious environment for fleas to gather and lay their eggs. All that "salt -n- pepper" are a mixture of flea debris (defecation) and eggs. If you actually have a flea problem the fleas themselves will likely jump off prior to you even getting near the washing machine, but yes, the larva will die as well as pupae which will be "flushed out" when the water leaves the machine.

Hot or cold does not matter. Soap tends to coat the exterior of the flea itself and in so doing suffocates and drowns it. I used to flea comb "in the old days" and dispose of the flea in a bowl of soapy (dishsoap) water - it worked a gem. Thank gosh for flea control products though, because I don't have to go through that time consuming bizz anymore!

Vacuuming works similar to washing as you are "sucking up" eggs, larva, fur, skin, etc. Remember, a vacuum is negative pressure and animals CAN'T live inside - flea or otherwise. However, as a safety measure you can do as others suggest and add something to the bag that will help in killing them IF they are SUPER fleas and manage to live through a negative pressure atmosphere without imploding.

11 years ago


NEVER NEVER NEVER use Hartz medicine on your animals.  You can buy it at just about any supermarket (i.e. WalMart, KMart, Walgreens, etc.)  After about a week after I got my furbaby, Kalvin, from the Humane Society, I noticed how bad he was getting fleas.  I was only 18 at the time and didn't know much about flea meds (or taking care of my own furbaby, for that matter).  I ran to WalMart and bought the Hartz medicine for him.  After I bathed him in Hartz shampoo, I used the Hartz topical flea meds to get rid of his fleas.  The next day I noticed he wasn't eating, wasn't drinking, was pretty lethargic, wouldn't use the bathroom, etc.  I thought maybe he was still trying to get used to the house.

Well, the next day, Kalvin started vomiting A LOT!!  Since he hadn't been eating, it was really foamy.  After about 3 times of vomiting just foam, he started vomiting BLOODY foam.  I freaked out and took him to the vet ASAP.  I told him everything Kalvin had done and I had done for him in the past 2 days.  He freaked out when I mentioned Hartz and immediately starting pumping Kalvin with fluids.  I was told that he has had many animals (cats AND dogs) die from Hartz products (or he's had to euthanize).  He told me he has written to Hartz on many occasions asking them to withdraw their products from stores.  He said Kalvin and I were one of the lucky ones for him being brought in so soon.  I guess a lot of times, Hartz products won't show signs for up to a week, and by this time it can be too late because it has already done damage to inside organs.

After I moved, I brought Kalvin to his new vet for a checkup, and out of curiousity I asked her if she had heard anything about Hartz products.  She told me the exact same thing Kalvin's previous vet had told me.  Therefore, this leads me to believe there has to be some kind of truth behind it.

Some of you may have used Hartz products before and have never had problems.  Please don't keep pushing your luck.  I, personally, will NEVER use Hartz again after what they did to my baby.  I was so terrified that he was going to die RIGHT after I saved him from the Humane Society.  I felt like such a bad mommy!  

Please, just BE CAREFUL and consult your furbaby's doctor before you use any meds or treatments on them.  I would hate for you to go through what I went through.  It was very scary!!!! 


Amanda and Kalvin

This post was modified from its original form on 16 Feb, 9:02
Thank you Amanda...
11 years ago

...I just had to double check the "facts" since this is/was a serious problem and company names were mentioned.

Here is an official web site (EPA) and the government regulation / law concerning the above situation:

11 years ago
Yup, I wont ill-speak, but I never use Hartz after reading similar articles.
11 years ago
Getting over the counter treatments for animals can be dangerous.  ALWAYS look for an expiration date.  Some stores aren't as good at culling the expired items since, 'They're only for pets.'

This can also be true of products for human use in the pharmacy aisles.
Woops, sorry
11 years ago

Thanks for posting that article, Erin.  I apologize for not backing up my facts.  I just glanced through this thread regarding fleas and wanted to get my story out ASAP to warn everyone.  I don't want anyone to have to go through what I went through with Kalvin.

Again, I apologize.  I didn't even think to post something like that. Thanks for doing that

11 years ago

Not a problem at all - if it IS something that has been proven (not just through hearsay) then it is actually ok to name the company. It was easy to find the "facts" in this case (#2 on google's list), so I had no problem posting it to back up your statement.

The rules of the group for no name slandering, blaming, etc. is more to protect companies and people (AND group members) from "unproven" or "opinionated" topics / issues.

Thanks again for posting that - it is important - and has been quite recent. Not something that happened 20 years ago and has since been rectified.

11 years ago
is this just for cats or r their concerns for dogs too? after i read what u guys have posted i started to do a little research on it but all i have found is dealing with cats and kittens. i would like to pass the information i find onto family and friends with pets. i will continue searching for information but if anyone can post some links to look at that would be great too.
11 years ago

Hi Trista,

My cat's vet said he has experienced problems with cats and dogs using Hartz meds, but I haven't done research on the dogs, so I don't know how accurate that is.  If I find any sites I'll post them here for you.

11 years ago
thanks, i searched for hours but all i could find were cases of cats. i went to Target the other day and was very happy to see that there were only a few Hartz products and the flea and tick drops that were mentioned were not there.
11 years ago

This particular recall was for BOTH dogs and cats (pups/kits). And the new legislation applies to ALL their flea products. However, in saying this, again I stress cats handle toxins A LOT differently than dogs. Mainly, because of their lack in breaking certain toxins down (due to lacking specific enzymes) and because of their weight / size. Obviously if we have a Chihuahua and Great Dane the Chi is most likely the one that will become sick / adverse reactions / toxic overdose / etc. but that isn't to say the GD wouldn't either.

This is why it is SO important to use the RIGHT products for the right species. Unless it specifies dog AND cat use then use only dog products for dogs and cat for cat - however, cat products rarely if ever that I have seen or heard of affect a dog. Except for food - makes them very gassy!

However, the toxicities that happened in this particular case was due to an imbalance of the toxic ingredient - TOO much got into the product and created toxic results across the board. I am hoping that this was a freak incident (as with the food recalls) and that the new protocol that went into place will have strictor regulations to catch any hazardous amounts in the products. I have not seen or read of any more recent incidents or recalls with these products.

11 years ago
thanks for the added info Erin! ur so awesome!
11 years ago

Just doing my job... ...

10 years ago

I thought this was interesting:


So - what about Program?  I actually discovered it when I was living in Zimbabwe.  Apparently it was developed in South Africa.  I used it for years and was very happy with it. 

10 years ago

Most (if not all) flea and tick collars contain organophosphates. OP's are VERY toxic to animals and humans alike UNLESS at a nontoxic dose. There have been companies and some products where the calculation / formulation went awry for one reason or another and collars were marketed that were toxic to animals, even fatal. Most of the dips and powders also have organophosphates in them, and with dips this is esp. bad because it comes in a concentrated form (unless premixed). If it isn't mixed correctly by owner or company it can be toxic, if a child (or pet) gets a hold of the concentrated form and drinks it, it can be fatal.

The flea products out there (Program®, Frontline®, Advantage®, etc.) do NOT contain OP's. They contain various other chemicals that are not harmful unless in VERY high doses and is usually quite difficult to overdose / poison them because of how the product comes. Yes, it can be harmful to the young, but again if you've purchased the right product (usually age and weight determined) than the likelihood of it being toxic is little to nil.

One must always remember that each animal is an individual as well...thus allergic reactions can always occur...and allergic reactions can present quite ill or even fatal. Whether the product is 'synthetic' or 'natural' it still has the ability to harm so no matter what the product is it should ALWAYS be used with care and consideration.


10 years ago

Couldn't have said it better myself Erin


The dangers of OP are becomming more and more well known.  In the UK, it was used for quite some time in sheep/cows foot baths and dips.  It worked amazingly well against mite infections that were extremely detrimental to the animals healths.  Because of there low theraputic range (high toxicity potential) and for possbile effects on the surrounding environment after disposal, OPs have become illegal to use now over here.  At least in the farm industry.  They may still present in some small animal dips but care is drilled into all of our brains about the harm they can do.  It is also worth remembering that there are some infections that only respond to OP use.  In these cases one must weigh one evil against another and decide what's best for all involved. 

10 years ago

Thank you.


Advantage for Dogs
7 years ago

Advantage used to be applied between the shoulder blades, now it says to apply in 3 - 4 places down the back.  This is troubling me as I know gigantasauras puppy Hank will try to lick. Any suggestions?

7 years ago

Hi Vic,


Sorry it's taken me so long to get here.  I can certainly understand your dilemma. 


These types of products are absorbed into the blood stream via the skin so, the areas they're applied make no difference.  They all end up in the blood.  The reasoning behind applying the product (and similar products) 3-4 places down the back is that usually (especially with the bigger guys) there's a lot of liquid in the applicator tube.  Often with that much liquid applying to one area between the shoulder blades some runs off or gets stuck to the hair, not making contact with the skin, therefore, not getting absorbed and the product not working as well.  So, doing a small amount in various areas helps better absorption and better efficacy.


Usually, these products only cause minor clinical signs, like hypersalivation, if licked off.  Very rarely vomiting and diarrhea.  One of my cats, hypersalivates just at the sight of the applicator because she managed to lick it off once.  The concern with ingestion is when there's mutual grooming between animals in the house, most importantly if a cat grooms a dog.  Some dog products contain permethrins which, although very good drugs, are extremely toxic to cats because they lack the enzyme to break it down.  This is why you should never, never ever apply a dog product on a cat.   


But still, I never apply these medications in multiple areas.  I did at first but after I thought about it, it didn't really make sense.  Still in the bigger sizes there's a lot of liquid so you've got to do something.  What I normally do is part the hair in a straight line from the back of the head to in between the shoulder blades giving you a lot of skin to work with in an area that most animals can't groom too well.  Starting from just underneath the knob at the back of the head.  So far that's worked out well for me.  I never did have any problems with applying to different, multiple areas down the back either it just made sense to do it in a line around the shoulder blades.


Hope this helps

4 years ago

 After some research on non chemical outdoor flea control, we spread cedar chips around the yard to help control the risk of us bringing any fleas in. 


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