What are your favorite ways to fight fleas once they’ve found your pets?

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We’re recent transplants to Austin, Texas, and boy-oh-boy are the fleas some resilient little fuckers down here. I’ve always given monthly flea/tick spot treatments to my cat and my dog, but that doesn’t do the trick here like it did in colder, drier climates.

We took them to the vet for a flea dip whilst I laundered, vacuumed, and swept all of the things at home. No respite from the fleas! Our poor pets were scratching again mere hours after we got them home.

We know fleas are the culprit (oh yes, we’ve seen them) but we feel powerless to defeat them. There’s lots of information on how to prevent flea infestation, but what to do once you’ve got ’em? Flea bombs aren’t out of the question, but I’d prefer to avoid blasting our living space with poison.

Can you help us help our pets? -Megan

What say ye, Homies? What are your favorite ways to fight fleas once they’ve found your pets?

Comments on What are your favorite ways to fight fleas once they’ve found your pets?

  1. We’re dealing with a similar issue right now. Our dog hasn’t had fleas this bad in 15 years of life! Changing flea treatments might help. My pal who went to vet school says that fleas become resistant to various treatments over the years, so medications that have been around for 10-15 years might not work so well anymore.
    You could try sprinkling Borax around the house. You might also need to treat the yard. A pest control company could help you with that, or you could look up “home remedies.” My uncle had some success treating his yard with lime (the chemical, not the fruit).

    • Treating the living area is a definite must, particularly the carpet, because fleas will drop their eggs there so your pet keeps getting re-infected.

      The idea behind the Borax is that the flea larvae will hatch and eat the Borax and it will kill them, stopping the cycle. I did this once with some success. I sprinkled it into a carpet and then worked it in with a broom then left it without vacuuming it for awhile ( a week? It was so long ago I can’t remember. ) I have to confess though it was old carpet and I didn’t care what happened to it. You might want to test this on a portion of your carpet first.

    • I have heard the same thing: that the older flea treatments like Frontline are no longer effective thanks to dang old natural selection. I don’t have any great advice for getting rid of fleas, but while you’re getting rid of them you should examine the flea treatment you are currently using.

    • My partner is a pest man, so this is straight from him. When treating carpet etc for fleas you must stomp around the house. Yes, stomp, like a dinosaur. Flea eggs can stay in the carpet unhatched and protected from any chemicals. Stomping prompts the eggs to hatch within a few days, the vibrations alert the fleas that there are hosts about. So stomp, stomp, stomp around the house and yard when you treat, the do the same thing a few days later.

      • You also really have to vacuum all the time – possibly every day. And on hardwood floors (after stomping), a Swiffer works well to capture more fleas. I have battled serious flea infestation and *I* am allergic to flea bites too, so it wasn’t just my cat who was suffering.

    • I second the Comfortis. A lot of times you can get the larger live stock version from your local feed store and break them into smaller pieces for smaller animals. We did that with our dogs when we had a similar issue.

    • I third Comfortis! My dog had fleas once when we were living in Kentucky, but since I’ve been giving her Comfortis she hasn’t had any. That’s been for about four years, for reference. We’ve also used topical spot treatments for prevention, but they make her oily, smell weird, and frankly, the tablets that work from the inside out just feel more trustworthy to me. I don’t really know how expensive it is (I’m lucky- my mother-in-law is a vet and she just sends us samples of it that they always have lying around her office), but it has worked really well for my dog.

  2. For around the house rosemary mixed with water sometimes does the trick along with various herbal remedies. I also find that to fight fleas on my dogs there’s a product called “Skin So Soft” that I believe is sold from Avon which happens to fight fleas on my pets better than all the monthly flea remedies I’d used before and it cured my dogs sometimes dry skin. The key is to rub it on them daily (for my not-so-lovey cat every other day) but they love it and it’s done so well that I don’t even bother with the monthly stuff.

    • I live in an area with a lot of dogs, and more stray cats. Fleas are a huge issue. We found that insects like fleas and spiders hate mint. We use a mint and alcohol spray to deter them in the house. Rubbing the spray into your pet’s fur before they go outside is a good way to keep them from hitching a ride in the first place.

  3. We had good luck with giving the dog chew-able garlic pills daily. He seemed to think they were a treat, which worked fine… and the flea problem faded dramatically. Didn’t do much for his breath, though…

      • Huh. This stuff was especially marketed for dogs, and didn’t seem to do him any harm… he lived a long time, and was healthy through his life. I’ve learned something new, thank you.

      • Garlic is only toxic in large amounts… I feed my dog garlic (during flea “season”) and use DE as a precautionary measure. I also add it to his food as it is extremely high in silica (good for coat and joint health), it destroys internal parasites too (worms).
        I use it personally for a good detox… and joint health! I just blend it in with my daily smoothie

        • Yes, just like alcohol is toxic to humans, but it’s perfectly fine to drink a moderate amount of wine, things that are toxic to animals often come down to percentages and moderation. If you or I ingested straight caffeine, we would likely die, but a coffee rarely hurts. People have fed their pets garlic for years to no ill effect, but pet owners must keep in mind the *amount*…eating a head of garlic might have no ill effect on a St. Bernard, while it might be deadly to a chihuahua.

  4. I second the changing of flea treatment. The guy we deal with at our local co-op let us know when we originally purchased Frontline that we might want to switch it up every 2 months or so… from Frontline to K9 Advantix (and the cat versions because we have one of each animal). This has helped a ton. And I hate to say it but the lower price brands just don’t work so if you are using a less than stellar treatment it won’t work.

    Otherwise we do all that you’ve stated – we had a HUGE breakout years ago. I think our only saving grace was that our home did not have carpet other than decorative rugs that we rolled up after cleaning and kept them up until we knew we were without fleas.

    It’s a pain and a trial and sometimes takes a full month to get rid of it all, especially if your home is full of carpet. You have to kill not only the live fleas but the eggs too. (Treatments for the pets should help with some of that).

  5. Vacuum! It may seem tedious, but try and vacuum any and every surface you can multiple times a day. This helps to pick up wondering fleas and eggs that may have fallen off your pet. Just make sure you get rid of whatever you suck up far from your house so they don’t just jump right out of the garbage can. The powders you can put down before vacuuming are wonderful too since then it helps kill the little devils before they are swept up. You can also try filling a large bowl with soapy water and sicking a light over it at night. The fleas are attracted to the light, jump in the soapy water, and drown.

  6. Diatomaceous Earth! It’s much safer for your pets than borax, especially if you get the food grade. Send your pets out for a spa day with a flea dip. While they are pampered, vacuum all surfaces. The vibrations wake up dormant fleas and encourage hatching new guys. Stay with me! You want them hatched here. Move all furniture on carpet and vacuum under it. The spread the DE powder everywhere. I recommend a poofer for making clouds of fabric and a painters mask. The powder is harmless to us, but the mask helps avoid sneeze attacks. 🙂 once the powder has settled for a half hour or so, vacuum again – moving everything around. This will grab any fleas that have already hit the powder and started dying. Re-apply the powder for stragglers. I have put the powder on the grass also – but that’s a choice you can make for yourself since it will kill anything with an exoskeleton.

    Diatomaceous Earth is just crushed up shells of crustaceans. There’s two styles – one is slightly harmful to our pets if inhaled or swallowed because it’s more coarse. The food grade quality is fine for all furry pets to wear. DE works by getting stuck to the exoskeleton and causing micro tears that dries out fleas and other nuisance pests, including many parasites. It’s great to use in addition to chemicals as it helps address the fleas that aren’t on their bodies. It can be reapplied whenever necessary. At the height of flea season, I’ll even rub it into problem areas on my cats’ backs.

    • Yes! I agree about DE, I use it in my house and on my pets! It is indeed EXTREMELY safe; people even take (the food grade, I’m guessing) as a supplement! What for, I’m not sure, but that’s what I’ve heard from my mom who knows everything about the subject.

      Anyway, yes to what other people have said. Fleas are becoming resistant to our topical treatments, but I still dose my fur-kids every couple months. Attacking the problem on several levels is most effective, I think. Garlic does indeed repel them; makes us taste icky, I guess, but garlic is one of those foods that can be dangerous for dogs so please ask your vet about this first! Same if you have any cats!

      Covering your house in DE is probably going to be your best bet for getting them out of the environment, and I also will rub the powder straight onto my dogs and cats if I feel it’s needed. As for outside the house, obviously, do what you want, but I ended up settling mostly for the doormats and slightly around that area. DE is not expensive, from my experience with it.

      Lastly even after you’ve killed every single flea fucker, your pets are still going to be itchy since any bites they have will take a few days to go away. So don’t look to them scratching *at this moment* as a sign that anything you did in the last few days didn’t work. Hopefully it’ll lessen their itchiness, but there still might be some scratching. Dogs can be given most antihistamines if they’re REALLY itchy; ask your vet about doses and if it’s safe for cats. You can also do oatmeal bathes/topical itchiness treatments/sprays/creams which they might appreciate until everything is taken care of 🙂

      Good luck!!

    • DE is the most effective treatment I’ve found. It’s crystalline structure pierces the exoskeleton and dries up the flea from the inside. I don’t think the exoskeleton is changing any time soon. You can also rub on your pet’s fur. Food grade can also be used internally for combatting worms- mix it in to wet food. ONE IMPORTANT NOTE: This is not something you should be inhaling a lot of- fine dust junking up you and your pets lungs is no fun. Take care to not create huge clouds, wear a mask, and clear the room until it settles. This has been the only thing that works, in my experience- without the chemicals that are doing god-knows-what-else besides killing fleas.

    • We also used diatomaceous earth with great success. I would warn you though that it’s a VERY fine powder and difficult to apply without some kind of applicator. I bought a little mucus bulb thingy they use for babies and was able to successfully “poof” out little dust clouds over the cracks in our floorboards. We did the floors and the windowsills, left if for a few days, and vacuumed. Then we dusted all over again. It needs to stay on the floor for a while, so you don’t need to vacuum it up every day. We’ve been doing this for about a month and I’ve been combing my cat religiously and haven’t seen anything. This has worked better for us than flea meds and sprays.

      Also, more is not better!!! Just dust enough for a very fine film and that will do the trick. Definitely use a mask if you can.

    • Came here to say Food Grade DE. Amazing stuff.

      Also, DO NOT, EVER EVER EVER do not use anything but the Food Grade kind. The other kind of DE is meant for pool filters and is toxic to humans and pets. Do not use that stuff ever unless for your pool filter, obviously.

      And the Food Grade DE is great for strong nails and clear skin. Also gets rid of pin worms. Is used to control parasites in pets/farm animals too. Definitely do your research on dosage/amount before taking/giving to your kids or pets.

    • Chiming in on the Diatomaceous earth suggestion! Last summer was particularly terrible for us. Embarrassingly so. We could put our foot down on the carpet and watch the fleas hop on. I finally worked up a perfect combo of diatomaceous earth for the floors inside and the ground outside, shoved a Capstar down the cat’s throat and then did the spot treatment. You have to attack them on the cat but also all over your house. Wash any linens, etc. Always empty out the vacuum cleaner outside. It takes time.

    • Yes to the food grade DE! One of my mom’s garden got infested because the wildlife loved to eat her flowers. We had to treat the whole yard with DE (and keep it up now so that we avoid it in the future) and in the house. My mom sprayed a peppermint water around & we vacuumed a lot. Do all the laundry. Small dishes full of soapy water were placed around the house with lights on them to catch as many as we could. Make sure all your “flea” trash goes in seal-able bags so they don’t escape. I kept my dog away for a few days while this went down, just so I didn’t have to keep bathing her in fear that they were hopping on her while we were trying to kill them. Dawn dish soap works wonders for dog shampoo, but do note it will dry the dog’s skin out a little bit.
      In order to keep any eye on fleas, I use a flea comb on my dog (looks like a lice brush), it helps me look through my dog’s coat and nip any flea problem before it gets out of hand. Once you have an infestation you work really hard to prevent it again! I always give my dog a brush when she comes in from outside to make sure she didn’t pick anything up.

  7. Fellow Texas dweller, the fleas down her are hellacious beasts. We had a break out this past summer, and had to work hard to get rid of them.
    I second the diatomaceous earth. We sprinkles it along all the baseboards and across all the floors. Then vacuumed it up after a couple hours. If you have hardwoods or tile, mop with peppermint water, just a few drops of peppermint oil or extract in your mop water. Then vacuum daily for the next week. Every time you vacuum empty the contents into a ziplock, and throw it in an outside trash can.
    If you have a yard, we treated ours with beneficial nematodes.
    For your pets we used comfortis, but it really gives one of my dogs a stomach ache. We also bathed them in a mixture of dawn and vinegar. But make sure to start at their head/neck so the fleas don’t jump inside their ears to hide.

    • All these things! The dawn bath works alarmingly well. Neem is a good deterrent as well, but smells awful. We still use it on hard floors or pet bedding when needed.

  8. I was dealing with this too just a little while ago. I have three indoor cats and got lazy about their flea treatment until I took one of my guys in and the vet said we must have an infestation. She said it’s pretty bad in Portland right now and my sister heard that it might be because the fleas are immune to Frontline. I also tried Advantage and I didn’t like it, but Revolution seemed to do the trick. We vacuumed multiple times a week (just couldn’t do it every day), mopped all the floors, washed every fabric thing the cats could have come in contact with. We also sprayed the baseboards and the carpet with Siphotrol. I was worried about spraying chemicals but the vet assured me that it was less toxic than a flea bomb and safer for animals than borax. As an added bonus it killed the sugar ants that we’ve been battling for months! You only have to use it every 6 months to keep your house flea free. So far I think we’re doing good as long as we keep up on our flea treatments.

  9. The biggest thing for us when our cats got fleas (two weeks after we moved in to our new house – with a nasty infestation) was washing everything twice. We took every piece of anything that was soft — clothing, dishtowels, shower curtains, regular curtains, etc — and put them all in a “quarantine room.” The only place anything from that room went was directly into the washing machine, then the dryer, then the washing machine again, then the dryer again. Both times with as hot of water / dryer as the clothing would be safe in.

    For clothes that couldn’t be washed, we put them in ziplock bags in the freezer for at least a week. Comforters and other big things we bagged up, took to the laundromat, and washed twice there.

    Clothes and soft stuff was only returned to it’s “home” after being washed, and only if that room had been vacuumed / treated at least two or three times. It was a bit of a hellish week of doing nothing.but.laundry… but between that and flea treatments for the cats, we seemed to get it squashed.

  10. Our area of the country isn’t known for having fleas because it is too cold and dry, but thanks to crazy weird weather this fall we have battling the cursed little bastards for months now on our mini dachshunds, and for the first time ever. The thing that has worked the best on the dogs is to give them a bath with Dawn detergent: plain, original, non-concentrated blue stuff, every 4 days, because that is the length of the flea life cycle. (We’ve also been using frontline, but have been less than impressed) We threw out all the dog beds and rotate blankets with every bath, washing in hot water with lots of bleach and wiping down hard surfaces in the laundry room with vinegar Sadly, we have also quarantined the dogs to the laundry room (I hate that part)to keep them from re-depositing fleas elsewhere in the house, or the reverse, picking up new bugs from the carpet. I vacuum as much as possible, concentrating on corners and baseboards. We also did a carpet & furniture treatment of 1/2 & 1/2 salt & baking soda that is supposed to work like a desiccant, but harmless to the dogs and kids. Brush it in with the broom and leave overnight, then vacuum it up, and don’t forget to empty the vacuum bag every time. All soft stuff that couldn’t be washed went in plastic garbage bags outside to freeze for a week. I think we’re starting to win the battle.

  11. You HAVE to treat your yard!!! You can run yourself ragged killing all of the fleas in the house, but as soon as your dear little fur-friends go outside, they will pick up more fleas and start the cycle all over again. This won’t be a popular answer, but if it’s really that bad, it might be time to bring out the “big guns” and go for a commercial flea-killer for the grass & surroundings (yes- poison. I know. It sucks.) Use it as your initial treatment, then opt for the more pet/earth friendly treatments for maintenance. Before everyone blasts me on it – think of all the undue stress your pets (and you!) are going through right now. You may be over treating, and certainly over-stressing your pets with dips / baths / drops / stuffing pills & garlic down their throats… all for nothing if you don’t get the * source* of the fleas taken care of. Not to mention that fleas will carry worm eggs and other diseases – do you really want to toss extra worm treatments for your pets on top of the flea treatments? No, probably not. You should do an assessment of all the places your pets spend time outdoors, and do whatever it takes to mitigate the flea problem there if you want to have any sort of peace. I sincerely wish you the best of luck with this – I really do understand what sort of havoc these little buggers will wreak. Don’t let them ruin your – and the fur-friends lives!!!

  12. Florida resident here. You think fleas are bad in Texas… Here’s what I suggest:

    1) Bathe your pets (flea shampoo not necessary–regular works as well). Spot treat your pet or pill your pet with a vet-recommended flea treatment. I can vouch for the Comfortis for my cats.
    2) Have the yard professionally sprayed. Cleaning the house doesn’t work if the fleas hop on your dogs (or you!) for a ride indoors. My cats never went outside, but we had awful flea issues because the neighbor’s dogs and the local raccoons had the fleas propagating in the yard and apparently, they were getting into the house through me.
    3) Wash the dogs’ bedding. Dust the house with Borax (or your vet might also be able to recommend some indoor flea sprays that kill fleas in all stages of development) and vacuum, vacuum, vacuum! You have to vacuum daily to get all the eggs, all the larvae, etc.
    4) Follow-up is key. You’ll have to repeat the treatment on your dogs monthly, if not more. Ask your vet.


  13. In my experience, this is one of those times that alternative remedies won’t cut it.
    Here’s what I do – all at once. (Australian meds, don’t know if you have the same in the US)
    First I give my dog a capstar to get rid of any living ones on her, then a frontline every month for at least 3. Then I will home flea bomb any area with carpet ( whilst the dog and I go hang out somewhere else for 2 days) and lastly I get flea spray for her bedding, kennel, and any dirt patches she lays or digs in outside.
    It’s awful, but it really does work, and after ensuring she’s flea free I don’t need to give her any more treatments usually for years. The second I suspect there might be a few back I will frontline and spray her bedding again.
    Kept 3 dogs flea free this way for 16 years now.

  14. I live in Florida, and the fleas here are horrible too. When I met Husband, he didn’t have his five cats on any kind of flea treatment, and the infestation was ridiculous. The only thing that eventually helped was getting all the cats on year-round prescription flea treatment. Store-bought stuff just wasn’t strong enough. Our vet also suggested using two types of treatment alternately (Type A on the 1st, type B on the 15th of the month).

    If you’re going the clean everything route, don’t forget about your car. You may want to start leaving outside shoes outside to avoid tracking in buggies.

  15. The last few years have been awful for fleas. I’m a licensed veterinary technician and I see person after person come in with an animal infested with fleas. Here’s a short version of what we recommend. As always talk to your vet first. Your animal might be sensitive to different products and different products may be better for your lifestyle.

    Keep your animal on some sort of flea preventative all year long. Winter might kill them off (if you live in that kind of area) but they can survive inside. I like to tell people that your house is flea heaven. It’s warm and full of food (your pets). One missed month can be enough to cause an infestation.

    As for flea preventatives, we do not recommend anything over the counter. Over the counter flea preventatives often have broad spectrum paracitides that can be much more toxic to your pets. They can cause chemical burns and systemic reactions. Ask any vet professional about Hartz if you want to watch us foam at the mouth. The preventatives we carry are tested for efficacy and safety before they are allowed out on the market. They are made for specific types of parasites (fleas/ticks/mosquitoes/lice to name a few) and less likely to interact with your pet. Essential oils and other home remedies are more often than not ineffective and can be toxic. Garlic in particular is toxic to dogs and cats (https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/dog-behavior/foods-are-hazardous-dogs). Tea tree oil, another favorite, is also toxic (http://www.vcahospitals.com/main/pet-health-information/article/animal-health/essential-oil-and-liquid-potpourri-toxicity-in-dogs-and-cats/7071). Flea dips, while effective, only last as long as the bath. Once the bath is over, the flea dip is no longer effective.

    Buy your products from a licensed veterinarian. You might be able to get them cheaper from a pet pharmacy online or from the pet store but those products are not the best. Pet pharmacies can and do sell out of date preventatives. Pet store employees are not trained to know about the different products and which ones would work best for you. Your vet knows you and your pets and can best recommend a product for you. Also, the companies who make the flea preventatives will not back their product unless you bought it through a veterinarian. Frontline has a nifty program where if you can prove you were using the preventative and you still have fleas, they will pay for treatment for your house and your pet. The catch is you have to be using Frontline dispensed through a vet, not an over the counter version. If your pet develops an allergic reaction and needs treatment, you are out of luck unless you bought that medicine from a vet.

    If you ask a vet professional what they use, most of us double up on our flea preventatives. Frontline has been increasingly not working so we are using more than one product. My favorite is Advantix for dogs and Revolution for cats. Advantix should be not be used if you have cats in the household as it is toxic to cats. Advantage is another good one. The ones I’ve all mentioned are the traditional topicals, they go on the skin. If you want an oral medication, Comfortis is a good one. Comfortis kills all adult fleas on the skin for 30 days. Capstar pills will kill any flea on the animal immediately but does not last like Comfortis does. There is also Nexgard, a new oral flea preventative on the market. It’s brand new so I don’t know much about it yet. Here’s two handy graphs comparing all the most popular preventatives.

    When you get your flea medicine, it’s probably a good idea to get some sort of dewormer and heartworm medicine as well. Fleas carry tapeworm eggs among other parasites. Who wants parasites in their house? I like looking at their eggs in poop but I don’t want them in my house. (we vet types are a bit odd) As for heartworm, they are transmitted by mosquitoes. They really do grow in the heart and can go through the aorta and into the pulmonary arteries/veins if it’s a really heavy load. Trust me when I tell you it is much easier and cheaper to prevent them than it is to get rid of heartworms. Heartworms tend to be fatal in cats so that’s extra incentive to put them on something.

    One more thing. Make sure the product you are buying is for the proper species and proper weight. There are some products like Advantix that are toxic to cats. And please, please, please make sure your product is for the proper weight. Buying a large breed topical to split among your terriers may seem cost effective but is a good way for them to come visit me in the emergency room. Those products are dosed out at one application/tablet per pet at the appropriate size to work best. Splitting a tube or a tablet reduces the efficacy and increases the risk of toxicity. I’ve seen a pair of Maltese come into my ER because their owner decided to split a tube of large breed preventative between the two of them. They both presented with neurologic symptoms (walking funny, muscle tremors) and vomiting. Here’s a link to an article on toxicity associated with insecticides. http://www.vspn.org/Library/misc/VSPN_M01289.htm

    If you have a flea infestation, it takes time to clear up. I tell my clients that it takes a minimum of three months for you to make any difference. That is because the life cycle of the flea lasts about thirty days. You may have gotten rid of all the adults but the eggs will hatch and it’s all begun again. Be patient. There are sprays and flea bombs for your house. Vaccuum everything and throw the bag away. Wash your pet’s bedding, toys, etc in hot, soapy water with bleach. Spray down everywhere the pet goes and everywhere they don’t. Treat your yard. Just keep at it and they will die. Fleas are nasty buggers who are very good at surviving.

    If you have any questions ask away. I’ll answer whatever I can and ask my vets those I do not know the answer to.

    • Hi Sarah! What’s the consensus in your office on the use of borax? There seems to be some dissent as to its toxicity for cats and dogs (I have one of each).

    • I cannot agree enough with the Revolution for cats! We had been struggling with fleas for a few months when my vet recommended Revolution and it cleared everything right up! They also recommended washing the cats with Dawn dishsoap (like they do with the baby ducks in oil spills). We would wash the cats, dry them thoroughly and apply a dose of Revolution and it worked like a charm. Unfortunately we kept getting fleas until we were finally able to move out of apartment living- it is so true that if you are living in a community that isn’t as on top of flea prevention as you are, there is nothing you can do to fully get rid of them!

  16. Comfortis is great but you’ll want heartworm prevention as well. If you think fleas are bad, try springing for heartworm treatment. We offer Trifexis, which is the same active ingredient (spinosad) in Comfortis combined with a heartworm preventative (milbemycin oxime). Be advised, some dogs (namely smaller ones) cannot tolerate Comfortis or Trifexis. If yours happens to be one, you can try Heartgard/Nexgard combo.

    Stay away from Frontline and any other product that has fipronil as the active ingredient. This chemical has long since been ineffective in Texas.

    There’s already plenty of advice in here for treating your home and yard. We use rock salt on our farm (you can get it from the feed stores or pool supply stores) sprinkled along the fence line. In clinic we tell people to vacuum, apply flea powder to carpet, then vacuum again. The first vacuuming loosens up all the eggs and makes the powder more effective.

  17. I knew the readership at Offbeat Home would have some insight! Thank you everyone for your responses. To clarify about our specific situation, we’re in a large apartment complex, so there’s nothing we can really do about the yard. Last week the cat and dog both got a bath, and they’re getting regular attention from the flea comb. We’ve spread diatomaceous earth on the carpet a few times now, vacuuming a day or two later. We’re still seeing fleas on the pets, although (knock on wood) fewer and fewer. We’ve also rubbed some DE into their fur, although I wonder if it will be drying to their skin in the long term.
    I was talking to a friend with 6 dogs a few days ago–his flea strategy is to give some kind of flea birth control to his dogs whenever he notices fleas. Some sort of medication that sterilizes fleas? I’d not heard of it, and my vet has never suggested any such thing.

    • Welcome to Austin! I agree with the others on the advice, and we’ve had great luck Trifexis with our pup here. We’re in a small apartment and managed to only find one or two ticks this summer. Also another random bit of local pet owner advice – I’d definitely recommend in investing in the rattlesnake vaccine. The only thing here worse than the fleas and ticks for our pets is the never ending supply of rattlesnakes (spoken with far too much up close and personal experience with this…)

  18. Hi hi. Fellow Austinite here and I gotta say- this year was the absolute worst flea year I’ve seen in 30 years. We literally did everything this year. I don’t know what neighborhood you live in, but that definitely has a lot to do with it. Our neighborhood Petsmart grooming center is awesome, so we take our pup for a flea bath once a month April-August. In between those we wash him first in dishsoap and then in a medicated shampoo. I used to have him wear a collar, but that mostly just functioned as a placebo effect for me. Our vet recommended a topical solution best for our neighborhood’s flea population and he takes comfortis.
    And obviously, we spray our frontyard (40’x20′, akak pretty small) and backyard down with Cutter’s flea and mosquito spray once a month April-August.
    But on top of all the normal recommendations- guuuuuuurl, invest in cedarcide. You can find it on amazon or in Austin at The Natural Gardener for sure. We vacuum and spray our couch down with cedarcide on the same schedule as the yard and baths and we also spray our mattress itself whenever we wash the sheets since our dog sleeps with us.

    TL;DR I feel your pain lady.

    • Cedarcide? I will look into it! Comforting to know it’s not just us having a flea problem this season. We’ve been feeling like we failed our pets.

  19. You said : “”To clarify about our specific situation, we’re in a large apartment complex, so there’s nothing we can really do about the yard “” ooh, ick… But wait! Maybe you can! I’m assuming it’s OK to have pets in your complex and the management knows about it (raise your hand if you’ve ever “harbored undeclared pets” at an apartment – I know I have!) Talk to the other pet owners… and also parents of small children who play in the grass/common areas. They are most likely having having issues too. Band together and approach the manager/owner of the place – ask them (nicely – you don’t want to be the trouble-maker) what their flea control schedule is for the grounds. Maybe you can push for an emergency yard treatment and help everyone out. Base it on the health of not just the fur-friends, but the citizens of the complex. Call your local health public health, or “vector control” department for more information on how they can assist you. Not saying taking it to the point of a sit-down with a round of “We Shall Overcome”, but still…. strength in numbers ( and right now, it seems the fleas gotcha out numbered). Good luck !

  20. I just wanted to add that nexgard protects against fleas and also ticks, so it’s my favorite. I put my two dogs on it last month and they had no problems. It’s in a beefy chunk that they think is a treat too.

  21. I’m a southern transplant from the midwest, so I feel your pain. I’m in Louisiana, and bugs down here are no joke! Unfortunately, once you’ve got them, I don’t think there’s much of an alternative to filling your house with chemicals. I use Suspend SC. It’s professional shit, but you can buy it on Amazon. It’s a serious chemical, but if you follow the directions, it is safe to use with pets. Spray it all over any rugs, bedding, etc. I do it twice a year, inside and around the outside of our house. Last year, I actual sprayed the whole yard once to get rid of fire ants (you’ll have fire ants in Texas, too), it totally worked, and kept the mosquitoes in somewhat reasonable check.
    The other inside maintenance thing I use, because I really don’t want to use the chemicals any more than I have to, is lavender. Insects don’t like the smell. I filled a bunch of little cloth bags with dried lavender and put them everywhere!!! All my drawers, in the linen closet, in the back corners of cabinets. Everywhere!!!! Helps keep bugs away, and makes everything smell yummy.
    Last, if you have outdoor space, plant all the things to create a bug barrier! I found this list last year, and planted a bunch of herbs just outside our doorways. The title is plants to keep away mosquitoes, but a lot of them keep away other bugs, too, including fleas. http://bestplants.com/plants-that-repel-mosquitoes/

    edit: just saw that you are in an apartment, but hopefully the yard stuff will help someone. Potted herbs on your balcony/patio/door may still help.

  22. In addition to the usual spot flea treatments and whatnot already mentioned by others:

    1. Salt your place. Sprinkle it everywhere (all over the floors, doorways, windows, pet beds, even under your own sheet and pillow) and leave it for 3 days, then sweep/vacuum it up (it tends to irritate feet, so keep slippers/flip flops handy – this is the only downside, in my opinion). Repeat 2x until you’ve had the place salted for a total of 9 days. (Supposedly that’s the entire life cycle of the flea.) I’ve read that salt crystals are sharp and cut the fleas as they hop around, and it’s also a desiccant so it dries them out. Not a pretty picture, but it certainly sounds effective. I used this technique when we moved into a neighborhood full of cats and our poor cats were infested within 24 hours of moving in. I combined this with Frontline or Advantage spot treatments. Keep in mind that salt is deadly stuff in large quantities, so don’t go sweeping it out the front door onto the grass or your neighbor’s potted plants or you’ll end up killing the plants. On the other hand, I’ve found that kids and pets aren’t inclined to consume large/toxic quantities of salt, so you shouldn’t run into problems with kids or critters poisoning themselves with your flea treatment (unlike so many of the other treatments out there). Salt being incredibly inexpensive, readily available, and useful for other purposes just makes it even better. 🙂

    2. Beneficial nematodes for the yard. Apartment management shouldn’t object if you spritz some harmless water (super-soaker fight on the lawn, perhaps?) around, and the nematodes are microscopic so no one will know there’s something in that water. Some sites indicate that there are nematodes specifically known to attack fleas, so you might want to be sure you get one of those varieties. (Steinernema carpocapsae?)

  23. When you are vacuuming, throw a flea collar in the canister or bag. Empty it out as soon as feasible so you don’t have eggs hatching in your vaccuum cleaner.

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