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How do you know if you have a flea problem?

12947 Views 31 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  Olie
Hi I have 2 dogs and I was just wondering How do you know you have a flea problem? How do you know if your dogs have fleas?

I had my poodle at the groomer yesterday and she said she found signs of flea dirt on him. And asked if we had been using any frontline.

We don't use flea/tick preventative on him or our other dog, but especially him because he has such bad reactions to the stuff. And I don't feel comfortable putting those chemicals on my dogs month after month. I have never used flea/tick preventative (other than on him) on any dog I've had in the past and I have never had a flea/tick problem.

Now she didn't find any fleas or anything like that. We have 2 dogs one that goes to a groomer ever 12 weeks or so and one that never goes to a groomer, she is more of a self maintaining dog (terrier mix). The dogs are bathed weekly.

But we do live in an apartment and there are other dogs in the general vicinity. Is it possible my dog had been somewhere in an area where there had been fleas but didn't catch fleas? (from what I understand Its too cold now for fleas here)
How would I know if my dog has fleas?

What are the sure signs you have a flea problem?

(You would think we would be getting bit up if we had a problem)


Should I go ahead and bathe both my dogs in a flea shampoo just as a precaution and what is the best.
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DON'T BUY ANYTHING FROM HARTZ!!!!!! There have been numerous cases of it killing pets, the stuff is garbage (dangerous garbage)! Flea shampoos only kill fleas at that time, they don't prevent fleas, so they are no better than any other shampoo. You need to find some sort of flea preventative, not a shampoo. There are natural products. I've had good luck with just spraying my yard. You have to spray before the fleas show up and repeat it before it wears off. I don't know if that would work for you b/c you live in an apartment and take your dogs to your grandparents. You may just have to go for a topical, sometimes it's the lesser of two evils.

I have to question why you are bathing both your dogs so often and ask what shampoo you are using. I bath my Maltese every 10-14 days (more frequently when he had longer hair), but I used a high quality shampoo. You can't get decent shampoo at Walmart. That's probably why your dogs are itchy. You can find a few good brands at Petmart and some have a money back guarantee.
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You can salt your carpets, sprinkle reg. table salt and let sit, wash everything you can't salt like bedding and what not. I know they also sell products in powder form that you can use on your carpets. I'd personaly reccomend that you stay away from the natural defense stuff they sell at walmart, think it's made by Sentry. It STINKS!! Believe me, even putting the little drops on your dog will smell your entire house up. I made that mistake already a few years ago when the product first came on the market.

Any shampoo put on, lathered up, and left to sit for a few minutes will kill flea you don't need anything special really. I don't use dish soap myself but I know people who do. It's a little harder on the skin and coat, I'd dilute it myself. I know PurplePoodle uses it but I think dilutes, maybe she can tell you at what strength? Only thing I use DAWN on, other than dishes, is when I am trying to get Dye out of Jazz's coat,(or the one time I accidently turned my hair orphan annie red/orange) :) There's a photo on my website of Jazz int he tub next to a bottle of Dawn :p
In fact on the subject of using flea shampoo be careful about doubling up on products that contain the same types of toxins to kill fleas. Like if you're using a topical spot on, flea shampoo and maybe a spray as well. Believe it or not people can and have overdosed their dogs this way. Less is more IMO. DeFlea is a supposedly non toxic flea shampoo/spray and is safe to use in conjuction with products like frontline. Doesn't smell super great but gets the job done I suppose.

I think we had this coversation about Hartz products already, I believe there are a couple of forum users who use them with sucess. It's a moot point in my case southern fleas are killer mutants apparently and a year round problem. Nothing you can buy off the shelf at walmart or a petstore is going to cut it... at least here.
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Well I checked both of them real well, no fleas or any evidence really so we aren't going to get the stuff. Ofcourse we don't use flea/tick preventative because my poodle has bad skin reactions to it. He is the only dog we have ever used preventative on. None of my dogs in the past used it and we never had a flea or tick problem.

So I don't think we have a problem. As for the reason he is bathed so often its to get the poop off him from when he poops in his crate. (Which happens almost everytime he is in it, separation anxiety is bad, doesn't matter if we are gone 10 minutes or 2 hours)

As far as the shampoo we use we both shampoos came from petco. One is a special hypo allergenic shampoo for my Terrier and the other is a shampoo called perfect coat.

But we checked them both very throughly though and no sign at all of any kind of fleas or even dirt really and our Terrier has been bathed. (poodle bathed yesterday at groomer)
HMMMMMMM well, if you have a flea PROBLEM you will know it! I would *think* that if you had enough fleas to make flea dirt you would definately see them creeping and crawling, especially with your bathing frequency. There are many natural remedies you can try to keep fleas away. If you live in an apartment complex where other doggies are around, you probably will pick up a flea or two. My vet tells me that you do not have to have every dog you own on flea prevention to control fleas since they jump back and forth between dogs. You could just put one on something like frontline and manage the population.
YOu see we are such neat freaks always trying to keep the place clean that really I think we would notice any in the apartment too. And I haven't seen anything. And there was nothing on them. I'm wondering if she just mistaked the fact that he was dirty for flea dirt. (Again he was out rolling around in the dirt and playing all day the day before we went) and my grandparents treat their yard for fleas.

I just don't know how they could have gotten fleas. But we didn't find anything
You know what works for fleas in your carpet, borax. Sprinkle, let sit and then vacuum it up. I think if you had a bad flea problem you'd know it yourself. They multiply so fast that they'd get on you guys too. What kind of food is this puppy on? Sometimes working from the inside out helps with allergies and dry skin.
He doesn't have food allergies. He has already gone through allergy testing. He is however allergic to everything he brings in on his coat. Especially pollen. He is has a corn intolerance so we didn't put him on the diet for his gastro problems the last vet wanted us on (they kept pushing so we left) but he is thriving on his new diet. And the new vet approves of it. Only one that hasn't triggered his pancreatitis and that is California Naturals Herring and sweet potato. Trust me this dog has spent his life at the vets and been through more testing than most dogs do in their entire lifetime. We almost lost him twice.

His dry skin is simply from all the bathing we have to do on him, but I will not have him walking around covered in germs and spreading them from sitting in his own poop. Everytime we come home we have to clean his cage up. And most days him too. I'm on very restricted activity due to pregnancy (drs orders) so he hasn't been being bathed as much because I haven't been leaving nearly as much so he hasn't had to go in the crate every day. Now just every few days.
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Not aware there was an issue with hartz, I never used it was making a recommedation for the cost issues. I would think if it had serious liabilty to dogs or cats it would be recalled. Either way I do know people that have used it and never heard anything bad.

It sounds like your dog has been through a lot in his short life. The SA is a huge problem that seems to be some of the contributer to the extra baths and stomach problems........maybe work on that first, then the rest....he has been tested for so much, IDK I hope you figure it out soon.
Yes the separation anxiety has been a bit issue. My vet feels if we can get it under control his gastro problems will go away as well. He gets so uptight and upset. But I'll admit he came from such bad breeding and has had so many issues we are lucky to still have him and lucky that he is actually starting to really thrive at this point.

I think the worst part of it and the biggest obstacle for us is that fact we never got a chance to socialize him when he was younger so we are having to take baby steps now to get him where he needs to be on a social level.

His immune system was so compromised early on that his first vet wanted us to isolate him. Honestly we are glad we didnt' because that would have killed him. She wanted us to keep him indoors away from other dogs and other people. But he spent so much time at the animal hospital that he really didn't have a true puppy phase. So he is kind of going through some of that now at an older age.

I'll have to post his story one day but he is the prime example why one should only purchase a dog from a breeder that does all the genetic testing for health and temperment issues. Or adopt a homeless dog from the shelter. We learned the hard way that its not best to get a dog out of the paper. But we love him and we will see him through all this.
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Oh gosh it sounds so awful for all of you. Really great that you continue to do the best you can for him. He's lucky to have you.
Ollie hartz has been recalled several times with various products including flea and tick prevention. I looked it up just now to refresh my memory on exactly what was recalled and the flea and tick one I found refered to cats and kitten and it was recalled after several deaths.

I even found a whole website against hartz, which I think is slightly extreme but hey they are doing what they think they must. www.hartzkills.com

Its important to remember that any pet can have a reaction to any flea and tick product some products more than others, the stuff you can buy off the shelf in supermarkets carry a higher risk but that could have a lot to do with the type of person perchasing these products. Joe blow off the street who never takes his pet to the vet and certainly wouldn't spend any more than he had to on flea prevention effective or not is more likely to have a dog with an underlying medical condition he is unaware of or to use the product improperly, say putting more than needed or reapling it because it didn't work the first time resulting in overdose.

Raid makes a can of spray that is used to kill bugs, including fleas, around the home. Right on the can it says the product is safe to spray on the pet. It's so safe apparently that the only person I ever saw use it no longer has a dog :( He sprayed it on in the parking lot of petsmart, shopped around, left and dog was dead in 30 minutes.(petsmart does NOT sell this product he picked it up at walmart before hand) He came rushing back into the store dog in arms to bang on the vets door :( very sad since he had been warned not to use products like that by the groomers when he mentioned what he had purchased. Frontline and Advantage had been suggested to him when he inquired about flea prevention.
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Wow thats too bad, good info in the link. I am sticking with what we do and fortunate enough we can afford too. I agree you never know with your dogs what will and will not affect them poorly. Unfortunately with this situation the dog suffers from several issues and it's a matter of working on one at time if possible.
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