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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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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. :)
 

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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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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...)

PS
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.
 

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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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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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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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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):
https://vcpl.vetmed.wsu.edu/problem-drugs

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-owner-resources/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:
https://www.vectrapet.com/us


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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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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Man a few hours napping and I feel a lot better. You guys and ladies are great you know that? Thanks a lot for all the ideas and keep them coming. I really can't thank you enough for jumping right up and trying to help.

OK a lot to answer. If I miss you, I'm sorry, it's not intentional.

@ Jax08 I'm pretty positive it's still fleas. Allergies was my first thought actually. Different pollen here, different grass. But, we've got no nasty looking skin, no runny eyes, no funky frito feet, no red itchy ears. They're eating the same food they always have and it's never been a problem. I don't even see any bites anywhere but that means nothing I know. They're both doing the stand on three legs and scratch the belly deal. Chewing spots are classic fleas. On the back in front of the tail, the tail and the butt. My wife used a flea comb on Wookie and last night she said she got 3 fleas off him and 1 off of Dax. Small fleas and some flea dirt. So, yeah, I'm pretty convinced it's not allergies.

@ Sunsilver thanks for that. I'm going to bathe the dogs again this afternoon to get anything left on them, off of them. I'm hoping that will help. I think you're right and we've got an egg and larvae problem. This seems to be cyclical. We knock it down and about 2 weeks later, boom, it starts up again overnight. The floors are all hardwood. The only carpet in the house is a small area rug in the master bedroom. My wife vacuums that daily but I'm not sure if she vacuums under it. I'll let her know to do that. She vacuums under and inside all the furniture 2-3 times a week too.

@ Jchrest Is this DE the same kind that you use in like fish tank filters? Should I order it or can I get it at like Home Depot? This is something I know my wife will be OK with as long as I'm the one doing it. It sounds like we're just about where you were and I'm hoping all this will be over soon.

@ Sunflowers I'm not against getting an exterminator in here if I need to. When I get the DE, I'm going to get around all the baseboards in the house with it and in the furniture like suggested. My wife washes all the dog bed covers twice a week on "sterilize". If I put some DE on the inner portions before we put the covers back on do you thank that's an OK idea? I'm a little worried about the "don't breathe it" thing. I'll do some checking into that part.

@ e1701dlf Thanks! I'll have to look into that. Wookie isn't really old yet but he's getting up there at 10. More on him in a minute.

@ Magwart, thank you, thank you, thank you for that info.

I'm going to break this up into a second post so I don't lose it again.
 

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You need to get DE that is food grade, not the kind for swimming pools.
 

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OK part 2. :grin2:

Just about everyone has expressed some very valid points and concerns I want to address. Your thoughts and words are heard and much appreciated.

Both dogs had a full checkup, bloodwork done, the whole 9 yards and got clean bills of health in February. I found a vet close to us right after we got here but I wasn't really impressed with them so I'm still looking around. I've heard good things about a few others and I'll be checking them out when I get time. I called our old vet. Hes not comfortable prescribing something now that we're no longer considered in his care. I can't blame him. He did say to call him if I have any worries about anything our vet here prescribes for Wookie before giving it so he can give me a thumbs up.

Dax is on Heartguard, always has been and will stay on it. My wife is fine with this. She's even halfway OK with him being on a chewable preventative for fleas. I say halfway because while she doesn't think it will hurt him, she terrified of Wookie grooming him and ingesting something he's putting off through his skin. Is it nuts considering Wookie could groom off a topical really easy? Absolutely. Can I fix it? No. She's comfortable with older products because she knows from experience what won't cause problems. I can't argue her point that collars can come off, sprays and powders can wash off and she thinks topicals can too within the first day or so. I can't take something back out the dog that the dog ate hours ago. I'm at a loss with this one so if you guys have any ideas, I want to hear them.

Wookie has that MDR1 or whatever it is problem. We had the tests done. Wookie had parvo as a pup, has a mild heart murmur and a past history of seizures. Liver values are normally slightly abnormal. When she was 2, she got into something or possibly some medication didn't agree with. I don't know all the details, we were just dating then. What I do know is Wookie spent another week in the hospital and nearly died from it. The dog is a genetic health mess and probably came from a puppy mill. There's a long list of drugs we have to avoid. We're very careful what goes in or on this dog. Wookie is tested for heartworm every 4 months and has always come back negative.

We have a great relationship with our old vet. He's been very patient, understanding, educational and willing to do whatever he can to keep Wookie happy, healthy and pest free while keeping him safe from side effects. I know the ivermectin dose in heartworm preventatives is supposed to be safe. My wife, our old vet and I decided a long time ago that we wouldn't chance it since the heartworm risk back home was very, very low. I think there's also new stuff out that's supposed to be different.

We're well aware that risk has increased substantially with this move. We had that conversation with our old vet in February and he was very frank about it. My wife knows frequent testing and no preventative isn't a long term solution in this area. For now though, our plan isn't changing. Like it or not, I've got to work with what she can handle. I can't have her terrified and panicking. It's not an easy decision which is why I snuck the capstar. Believe me, I felt like a total tool doing it but with the relief it brought the dogs, I'd do it again. I honestly think my wife might be OK with it so I'll probably talk to her about it tonight and see what she says.

Just to be clear and in full disclosure, my wife knows she's being completely irrational. She's having a very, very hard time right now and we're working through it the best we can. Let's just say that my joke about 3 extra therapy sessions wasn't really a joke.

If you got this far, thanks. This wasn't easy to write. I'm going to go love on the dogs for a bit and give them a bath.
 

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I have used Vectra 3D on my cat (the cat version), I had forgotten about it. I have also used it on a dog I had five or six years ago when Frontline and Advantage stopped working for us. I don't know if Vectra 3D is contraindicated in dogs that have had seizures, but I'd definitely look into it if your wife is willing to use topicals. In the past, I was interested in Revolution because it would take care of fleas and heartworm...never tried it though. Best of luck. I hope you get the fleas under control soon. Keep us updated.
 

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Ack! If he has a seizure history, you should not use oral flea/tick meds -- NONE of them are appropriate for seizure dogs. Our rescue's vet told me that she wants any dogs with seizure histories to stick with topicals -- be sure and have that conversation with your vet, as the whole class of oral meds is likely to be contraindicated, unfortunately.
 

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@ Jax08 I'm pretty positive it's still fleas. Allergies was my first thought actually. Different pollen here, different grass. But, we've got no nasty looking skin, no runny eyes, no funky frito feet, no red itchy ears. They're eating the same food they always have and it's never been a problem. I don't even see any bites anywhere but that means nothing I know. They're both doing the stand on three legs and scratch the belly deal. Chewing spots are classic fleas. On the back in front of the tail, the tail and the butt. My wife used a flea comb on Wookie and last night she said she got 3 fleas off him and 1 off of Dax. Small fleas and some flea dirt. So, yeah, I'm pretty convinced it's not allergies.
You found fleas and dirt so must be fleas but just to address your comment on allergy symptoms above.

My dog did not have any of those. He itched. Relentlessly. The only other symptom he had, normal pet people would never have seen. That was on the track. He was lost, had no confidence and sneezing by the middle of the second leg and I KNEW he could track like a machine. Tested him and he's allergic to dust mites and grass.

If you get rid of the fleas and they are still chewing, ask your vet about cytopoint.
 

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@ Jax08 That's really interesting about the tracking. Dax is a tracking fiend. His nose is always somewhere. I haven't had time to take him out anywhere since the move but that's something I'll check out for sure when I do. I'm not completely ruling out allergies either. All evidence is pointing at fleas but that doesn't mean there's not an additional factor. I will call our old vet today and talk to him about the cytopoint. Thanks a lot for the info you posted :smile2:

@ Magwart, Wookie hasn't has a seizure in 4 years and isn't on any meds for them. That's really a bonus. Exact cause was never determined and that's not a bonus. It was always infrequent, intermittent and varied in severity when it happened. The only correlating factor was medication for something or other each time it happened. Once, I know it coincided with an antibiotic. It's something we keep in the back of our minds. Oddly enough, this didn't start until after that one real bad illness at 2 years old. Educated speculation is a very high sensitivity to certain chemicals. We also avoid any kind of blinking lights, laser pointers and stuff like that just in case they could be a trigger. I checked with our old vet about giving him capstar and got the thumbs up for infrequent use with close watching after giving. Wookie's had it before after a stay at a boarding kennel led to an infestation. Besides a little panting, the mad scratching, biting and running around from dying fleas, there were no signs of trouble.

I'm going to ask our old vet about the Vectra3D today too.

Update next :grin2:
 

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OK so last night was a busy night.

I bathed both the dogs with Dawn and dried them off really well. I got a couple dead fleas stuck in the towels. I tossed those in the washer on sterilize and didn't get caught using the good bath towels instead of the dog towels >:) The kids were happy and spent the rest of the evening running around and rolling in the grass. Minimal scratching last night at bedtime. Some but not an insane amount and I didn't hear any chewing going on.

I guess my wife's therapy session yesterday went pretty well. We had a long, long talk about some of this last night after dinner. I showed her the DE I picked up and explained to her I wanted to use it in the house. She knew what it was, thought it was a great idea and we got to work. We put some under all the sofa and chair cushions and started shoving furniture around to do baseboards. We started wondering exactly how we were going to do that without one of those cool pump things dogfaeries has. BTW, one of those got ordered from Amazon last night too. Thank you! So anyway, my wife, bless her heart, came up with an idea. She had one of those bag things you use for decorating cakes and I used that. It worked great! I'm crawling around on the floor with that putting down DE and my wife was right behind me using a paintbrush to sweep it in all the little cracks and crevices. We were talking about all this the whole time. I think being able to be busy and not have to sit looking at me really helped her.

So here's where we are now.

I reiterated to her that I understand how difficult things have been and how hard she's trying. I still don't think she sees that I'm not exactly having a wonderful walk in the park right now either. I know she's afraid of having something bad happen to Wookie. I assured her I'm not going to let that happen if I can possibly avoid it. She is incredibly attached to that little dog and Wook is just as attached to her. I know why my wife is so attached and to be honest, I am too for different reasons. I mean, I love Dax to death. He's everything I've ever wanted in a dog but he'd be gone in a New York second if I had to choose between the two.

I laid down the law that I'm not going to allow her irrational fears endanger the dogs. Especially Wook. I'll give it another two weeks but come July 1st, Wook is getting retested and put on heartworm preventative with retesting however often the vet feels is needed. I'll compromise if I have to with a half dose for July but a full dose in August. No, I'm not telling her that! She feels horribly, horribly guilty and responsible about the dogs itching and scratching so much. I had no idea. I got permission to sneak more capstar if necessary. She's OK with Wook having it if she doesn't have to know about it. Don't ask, don't tell. I'm cool with that! She's also OK with trying any non-oral flea/tick product our old vet thinks is OK. She knows him and trusts him so I'm green lighted all they way there.

Magwart, thank you again for the info on invermectin and the MDR1. I know Wookie is a double whatever. Our avoid list includes everything from WSU, the things they said is OK to use carefully and a couple others. I printed out a ton of stuff for the wife and she's been reading. She also promised me she'd make a few phone calls herself. I can't ask her for more right now.

All in all, it was a pretty positive night. Not a lot of scratching going on today either. -touch wood-
 
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