The End of our Rope!

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QuestionsCategory: Flea InfestationsThe End of our Rope!
Kathy asked 3 months ago

Three weeks ago, I noticed a flea on our kitten who had yet to be treated.  Within two days, we noticed the dog, (who was on Frontline Plus), was infected and I was getting bitten like crazy.  My daughter was only bitten once or twice.  We got a spray, sprayed the house, brought Advantage ll for the kitten, treated her and my daughter gave the dog his Frontline a week early.  We vacuumed the house and washed all the bedding, towels, etc…didn’t work.  We called a well-known exterminating company and our vet.  The exterminator came, we took the pets for 4 hours driving around, stopped at our vets, (didn’t take the pets in), and they gave us Nexgard for the dog and Comfortis for the cat.  We followed the exterminators directions and didn’t mop, but vacuumed every other day.  Didn’t work.  We called the exterminator again, they came and once again we took the animals for a 4 hour ride.  Called the vet and were told to try giving them a bath in warm water with dawn dishwashing liquid at least once a week, (which was done last night).  We also vacuumed last night again.  I have been doing laundry every day for 3 weeks.  Came home today and the dog was scratching like crazy.  The kitten came to lay on my chest, and I was bitten twice on my hand and wrist.  We are literally at the end of our rope.  My daughter is having horrible anxiety.  She can’t sleep.  The dog sleeps with her and she’s getting bitten all the time now and wakes every morning with fleas, both dead and alive on her comforter, which I wash daily with her sheets and mattress protector.  We literally don’t know what to do.  Is this ever going to end?  It feels like it won’t and we can’t afford to move. The vet said that the fleas were really bad right now, that after we got our nexgard, within a week they were completely out of it and seresto collars.  Help!

1 Answers
Adam Retzer Staff answered 2 months ago

Kathy, I am sorry to hear about your flea problem and related stress.

It sounds like you’ve taken all the correct measures. However, it’s important to realize that effective flea control won’t end infestations immediately. It will take around 8 weeks, sometimes longer in severe infestations. During that time it’s normal to continue to see fleas. Their numbers should diminish as time goes on though.

Only 1-5% of infestations are adult fleas. The other 95-99% are eggs, larvae, and pupae living in the environment. Often they live deep within carpets. While sprays can be very useful for control, they won’t affect all of these hidden stages, because the spray can’t penetrate to the depth of the carpets. These immature stages need to mature, emerge, and die before the infestation ends. Patience is required.

Sometimes infestations even appear to get worse after the first treatment. This is because the fleas were actively reproducing and large amounts of eggs fell into the environment. When this generation of eggs matures and emerges as adults, it can result in large numbers at once. However, after proper treatment is in place, it should be last generation.

Ensure the spray you used in the environment contains an insect growth regulator (IGR), either pyriproxyfen (Nylar) or methoprene (Precor). IGRs mimic natural insect hormones that regulate development. Exposed eggs and larvae can’t mature. So, any new eggs that may happen to fall on the treated areas won’t survive. Plus, the IGR will remain active for 7 months indoors, which is great for preventing reinfestation.

The pet treatments also won’t kill fleas instantly. It can take up to 24 hours sometimes. So you may see fleas on pets. The adults emerge from carpets (or other environment) and then jump on pets. They may survive for a few hours before succumbing to the insecticide, but they shouldn’t be able to lay eggs. Even if they did survive, many of the treatments you mentioned contain an IGR, which will sterilize the females.

I am not sure why the vet recommended you to shampoo with Dawn every week. This can help remove fleas from pets when establishing control. However, after the pet is properly treated, it’s not a good idea to bathe them often, from what I’ve read. Many pet treatments work by incorporating into the animal’s natural oils, which then spreads the treatment over the entire body. Dawn is meant to remove oils, so it could diminish the effect of the treatments. And even tough many treatments are labeled as waterproof, it’s recommended not to bathe too often. Plus, shampooing that often with Dawn can remove the natural oils that help protect the skin. It could end up causing dry, itchy skin, which is even worse for irritation if you combine that with getting bitten by fleas.

Continue vacuuming often. I won’t go into detail here, because I’ve already written a page on it: How often to vacuum for fleas.

In summary, it sounds like you are on the right track. I think maybe your expectations were just a little off with how quickly the problem would resolve.

I hope things get better soon (I think they will with the measures you’ve employed).

Warm regards,