Fleas! - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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Old 06-12-2019, 10:09 PM Thread Starter
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Ok, I really, really need some help please. My wife called me a few minutes ago and she says the dogs are going nuts scratching and gnawing again. We never had problems before we moved. An odd one or two fleas here and there but NOTHING like this. Ever.

We've only been in Virginia Beach a little over a month and we're still settling in. Not long after getting here, we were taking the dogs for walks in the neighborhood and we think that's where the little devils came from.

So far, we've treated the yards twice. A spray first and then the granules. We've bombed the house three times including Memorial Day weekend. The dogs haven't left the property in weeks. The wife is considering having them shaved so she's not spending hours each day with a flea comb when the scratching starts again.

The 2 month old seresto collars on the dogs did nothing. Those came off a week into this. Frontline Plus has to be a new form of flea food in my opinion. Advantix II we tried Memorial Day weekend. Seems a little helpful but not a lot.

My wife is dead set against any of the chewables. She absolutely, adamantly refuses to even consider it. The sheltie is ivermectin sensitive and my wife is terrified of heart worm preventatives or any other chewable anything for her so it's out of the question. No amount of reasoning is going to make her budge.

I managed to sneak in a couple capstar tablets and the relief that brought for a few days was great but it cost me 3 therapy sessions and nearly a divorce when the wife found out. I'm pretty sure I can dose them up again while she's taking a shower though. I've just got to remember to pocket the trash and toss it at the gas station or something. I can get that OTC but oral preventatives require a trip to the vet for a prescription and I'll never get away with that.

Is there ANYTHING I can possibly use that actually works in this area? I'm seriously afraid I'm turning my house and yard into a superfund site with all these chemicals and I really don't want my wife upset and panicking but I'm getting desperate.

Thanks in advance.
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Old 06-12-2019, 11:16 PM
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I've had fairly good luck using NexGard with my dogs but that's a chewable, so I guess it's not an option for you. If I couldn't use NexGard, I would look into Bravecto or Simparica...but they are chewables also. I wish I didn't have to use chemicals/drugs on my dogs also, but the fleas are pretty much unbearable here without it--for the dogs and for us. When I lived up North, I could get by just using flea meds occasionally, but not here. I tried stopping NexGard one month this winter, and had a slight flea infestation within a week or two. We went right back to using NexGard, but not before one of my poor dogs got a terrible hot spot on his flank.

I can understand not wanting to use the harsh chemicals at all, but I'm not sure that I understand the distinction between an oral and a topical medication. It is entering the dog's body and system either way. Perhaps, a vet could recommend a product that is effective in your area and that is safe to use. Sometimes an informed outsider can offer perspective when our spouses don't want to listen to us.

One of my dog's littermates has a MDR1 gene mutation that is supposed to make him more sensitive to some medications, including ivermectin. I haven't had my dog tested, but I'm just assuming and treating him like he is positive. I give him flea and heartworm meds without a problem. He has had no reactions. I am no expert, but according to my research, and a breeder I have spoken to, dogs that are MDR1 positive can safely take flea and heartworm medication. Perhaps, a trusted veterinarian could ease some of your wife's concerns. I don't know how severe your sheltie's drug sensitivity is, but if it was my dog, I would be concerned about not having her on heartworm preventatives. Heartworm can be very common and very deadly in many parts of the country.

If you have a veterinarian and your dogs' annual exams and vaccinations are up-to-date, you can probably order NexGard (or other flea products) online. I have used Chewy.com and 1800petmeds. I'm not recommending that you do that behind your wife's back, however, as I don't want to be responsible for extra therapy sessions.

Last edited by sebrench; 06-12-2019 at 11:43 PM.
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Old 06-12-2019, 11:24 PM
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Try DE. It’s safe on pets, yards, carpets, etc.

Not sure why your wife would rather the dogs suffer than giving them oral meds (which in my experience works much better than the topical) but DE is a safe alternative. You can also add natural ingredients to their food that deters fleas, but with both options, it’s not going to be a miracle fix.

Once they infest your house, it will be a nightmare! Been there, done that with a cat that was an escape artist and keep bringing them in with her.

It took 2 months of bombing, using the carpet powder, furniture spray, and daily vacuuming. I eventually found the DE tip, and used it to put all around the baseboards, and under all the beds, and all along the perimeter of my yard. And I still had to use the flea comb constantly, which is a b on long haired cats. I can’t even imagine doing that on a double coat dog!

Hopefully others have better alternatives than I do, we just use the chewables and have had no issues with ticks or fleas.

An not treating for heart worms? That’s scary. Do you at least have the vet test them at least two-three time a year for it? It’s a crappy way to lose a pet for sure! And not an easy way to go for the pet.
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Old 06-12-2019, 11:35 PM
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We are a little bit south of you in NC and here, mosquitoes ( carriers of heartworm) and fleas ( they will not only make your dog miserable, they will infest the carpet and bite the humans) and ticks ( carriers of all kinds of nasty diseases for canines and humans) are very common in the warm weather. Heartworm can be fatal...and we are approaching peak mosquito biting season.

In the light of all this, I would ask my partner to geek out and do some serious scientific research / reading and discuss her concerns with a vet. Education and being informed about risks, can overcome fears. Her fears are putting your dogs’ Health at risk and possibly the humans heAlth too! ( But I wouldn’t go behind her back...)

I heard that Seresto collars usually work well! Did yours get wet, maybe? are you sure the itching is from fleas and not a different skin condition? Our dog seems to be doing fine on Nexgard/heartgard, I chop them small and mix them in his dinner bowl once a month, very easy. I do not know if they contain ivermectin though.

Rumo ~ rescue shepherd/husky mix
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Old 06-13-2019, 02:55 AM
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Flea allergy dermatitis can keep a dog scratching long after the fleas are dead and gone. Bathe the dogs to get rid of the flea poop.

I assume you know about going after the flea larvae and eggs by washing bedding, and vacuuming under furniture cushions and in the crevices? The larvae are the most sensitive stage to the diatomacious earth, so make sure you treat these areas!

The larva feed on flakes of dead skin that's attached to shed hair, so sleeping/lounging areas need LOTS of attention if you want to stop the fleas from breeding.
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Old 06-13-2019, 09:33 AM
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Interesting, we used to live in Maryland and got a visit from a couple who had recently moved to Virginia Beach. After they left, we found our house totally infested with sand fleas. They were horrible. We tried everything and ended up calling an exterminator, who said that fleas are the only bugs that exterminators spray down their legs after they leave the house they treated.

The problem is that it is a vicious cycle, you kill the fleas but the eggs are still there and then a few hatch and you still have fleas. Treating your yard is very important, but if you have them in a house with carpet, it may be impossible to get rid of them unless you get an exterminator, and the way they treat is to spray every inch of the house. I had to pick up everything off of all the carpets.

A second infestation happened after we hired somebody to take care of our dog while we were vacationing. That time, we had all tile in the house, and we were able to get rid of the fleas with DE. However, you need to be careful with inhaling that stuff.

A vet visit might be in order to see if there are still fleas or if your dogs just have hives from the bites. They are extremely itchy, and the more they scratch, the worse it can get, because the skin gets infected and then you have a whole other set of problems.
Good luck with this, flea infestations are horrible.

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Last edited by Sunflowers; 06-13-2019 at 09:35 AM.
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Old 06-13-2019, 09:43 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone. I had a whole long reply typed out and lost it. I'm beat and have to get some sleep so i'll be back later to reply in detail. I'm going to hit that other thread real quick before a nap.
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Old 06-13-2019, 12:02 PM
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1. Let's help your wife understand MDR1/ivermectin sensitivity

PLEASE share with your wife the WSU page on ivermectin-sensitivity in dogs with the MDR1 gene variant -- this is the university that's done the most research and the best authority in the US on the subject (they also do the genetic testing for it):

The bottom line is that the amount of ivermectin in HW meds is deliberately calibrated to be so low as to be safe for MDR1 dogs. (This contrasts with the treatment for demodex, where vets give vastly higher doses (like 100x higher) of ivermectin -- that is NOT okay for these dogs.)

Some of us think that the HW prevention low dose may be a problem for the parts of the country with a nasty resistant strain of HW emerging, but it's kept the MDR1 dogs safe. So there's no reason for her to not use some kind of HW protection for this dog (there are also topical HW options that also do flea control -- like Revolution and Advantage Multi [called Advocate in Europe]).

2. It's not just about fleas -- your dog needs heartworm protection and tick protection too

Regardless what you do about fleas, Virginia is an area with heartworms, so you need to find a heartworm prevention product that your wife can be comfortable with (even if it's a topical one): https://www.heartwormsociety.org/pet...incidence-maps

You're also in a tick disease region. Tick diseases are very dangerous for dogs --deadly if untreated, and requiring weeks or even months of antibiotics or other meds to treat.

Frankly, I'd worry a lot more about having to take an MDR1 dog through HW treatment or tick disease treatment than I would about prevention. These are major, drug-heavy treatment protocols that are hard on even dogs that don't have MDR1.

Thus, as you're talking with your wife about a flea protection product that you can both live with, I think you might want to think more comprehensively about protecting your dog from parasites. This would be a really good conversation to have with a vet you trust -- I talk through pros and cons of various products with my vet team regularly, and their expertise in helping navigate the options is very helpful.

3. Vet-Prescribed Flea/Tick Meds are likely to be more effective than older OTC products in some areas

The OTC flea meds that you can buy at the store are older-generation products that the fleas have had a lot of years to become resistant to -- the old products seem to still work in some parts of the US, but not at all in other parts. You likely have discovered that you're in an area where the old products aren't working. There are newer, RX-only products available from your vet that will work far better for you.

An oral med like Nexgard or Simparica would be my first choice, but if they're not an option your wife can be comfortable with, then I would ask the vet for Vectra3D (a topical, prescription-only product that protects against fleas and ticks). I have friends using Vectra3D in Louisiana, and I know several shelters using it to -- it works.

If your vet doesn't stock Vectra3D, they might be willing to let you fill the RX online through an accredited pet pharmacy like Chewy.com or 800PetMeds.com. Here's the manufacturer's website in case you want to read about it:

4. Follow-up with some testing

After getting a flea infestation under control, I would run a fecal test. Fleas transmit tapeworms, so it's not uncommon to need deworming after going through this.

Also, if your dog hasn't been on HW prevention since moving to VA, you'll likely have to run a HW test now to get a prescription, but then I would ask the vet run a HW test again in about 7 months. It takes 6-7 months for the baby heartworms to grow big enough to be detectable in the blood test, so dogs that haven't been on prevention have to be retested at that interval.

[ETA: @sebrench -- this WSU site linked sells a cheek swab test kit for MDR1 that you can order to do at home for $60 if you want to know for sure]
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Last edited by Magwart; 06-13-2019 at 12:14 PM.
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Old 06-13-2019, 12:47 PM
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Are you sure it's fleas and not allergies?

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Old 06-13-2019, 01:49 PM
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We apply beneficial nematodes 3 times per year because we live in deep south texas and we don't have a winter to speak of. We've been doing that for years and have no issue with fleas or ticks. I have learned to look at all of those "flea and tick medications" as what they really are - oral pesticides people are feeding their dogs. It could very well be one of the reasons cancer rates in dogs are skyrocketing. We get our nematodes at Arbico Organics.

PS: One of my dogs started having seizures after Seresto and eventually died during a seizure. We have not applied pesticides to our dogs or to our yard now in years. We also live in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas where all the bugs live.
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