Let me start by saying you never want fleas to begin with. Anyone who doesn't treat their outdoor pets is fair game, even those who have a very well manicured yard in the suburbs. Yes it can be a bit pricey for the medicine, especially for larger dogs, but
if you if you told me in the beginning that I would have to vacuum EVERY SINGLE DAY for at least two months straight I would pull out my wallet faster than Garfield to lasagna. So treat your pets!
Mark it on your calendar so you NEVER forget! You can skip the freezing winter months (if this applies, disregard if you live in Florida) because fleas don't live outside when it is freezing. Learn from me since we had to learn the hard way a few years ago.
I had an inclination something was wrong when I saw six tiny, itchy red welts on my hip. Puzzled, I just thought something bit me while I did yard work, shrugged and moved on with my life. Soon after I saw new bites of the same size on my legs. I inspected my bed like a crazy woman for bed bugs (none thank God).
It kept happening to me only and I told the husband to check the dogs for fleas. "Nope they're clean", he said. None of them were acting any differently or scratching a lot. Still puzzled, I just chalked it up to the fact that bugs like to bite me and it was summer (I am always prime mosquito bait. Must be because I am so goddamn sweet).
Finally, very frustrated, I decided I was going to check the dogs. I rolled over my Boston Terror on the carpet and inspected her belly where there is less hair. Sure enough we had a problem! Teeny tiny black fleas crawling throughout her hair. Easy to miss I guess (Men!) So we ran to the store for the aforementioned expensive flea medication for all three pets (two dogs and a cat).
Even though kitty is strictly indoors, he became a victim as well, just by proximity. I learned he likes baths! He stood very calmly while I washed him. During that first of many flea baths we gave him with dandruff shampoo (kills fleas), they just FELL off of him or ran to his head, the only safe and dry spot.
The tub was disgusting, littered with fleas, and turning a copper color due to all the blood they had leeched. Kitty actually looked happy and relieved that we were helping him. He stood in that bath very stoically, as if he already felt a helluva lot better.
We bombed our house with boric acid.
Brushed it into the cracks, crevices and carpet with a broom. Someone on a flea forum wrote- "life is too short for fleas". Meaning spend the money. Get the exterminator. We called our exterminator, and since we pay them to come regularly to spray for bugs, they told us flea service was included and thus free! Score one for us finally! (yes it sounds uppity to regularly pay for an exterminator service, but after I had a spider crawl across my face in bed one night I put that bitch on speed dial).
The exterminator was aghast at all the boric acid powder all over our house and told us how dangerous that was. I didn't care. I just wanted the fleas gone. YESTERDAY. I pictured still having these mf-ers in the winter, while it was cold outside where they can't survive yet they would be surviving in the warmth of our home. I thought of how I would have to open all the windows and freeze them (and ourselves) out.
We promptly put the animals on flea medication. Threw out the pet beds and made them sleep on washable towels or foam. We threw all the pillows and stuffed animals in the dryer for at least 30 minutes on high to kill the bastards. I combed kitty daily with a flea comb, getting the tiny remaining blood-suckers out who were so deeply embedded in his hair and then happily drowned them in soapy water.
We bought loads of salt and spread it into the carpet and couches, because apparently fleas hate salt. We vacuumed. Every day. All three levels. Every square inch of carpet and couches. Every bit of upholstery. I began to detest anything fabric. I was cursing myself for recently buying a new upholstered chair and loveseat. There were times I would practically cry, knowing it was time to start our exhausting vacuuming ritual again. Vacuuming sucks up fleas and eggs.
After the exterminator came, we had to call them again. We still had fleas. They told us it takes a while, a few cycles, because the eggs must hatch before they can be exterminated. My four year old drew up a "flea checklist" and put it on the fridge.
"How are a couple humans going to battle thousands of nearly impossible to see tiny fleas?" I thought. In the throes of my flea panic, I seriously imagined myself being 80 years old and still battling these bastards. That's what it feels like when you are in the midst of a battle or crisis.
A good day was one when you didn't itch. (On most days you did. Terribly. Worse than mosquito bites. ) In the car seat on the way to get haircuts, the husband reported he saw a flea jump off the head of our toddler.
I was ashamed, felt dirty and was too embarrassed to talk about our problem but at times we did have to give people the disclosure- we have fleas. Come over at your own risk and expect to leave itchy and make sure if you have pets they are on flea medicine so you don't bring fleas home to them. Mainly we just avoided having anyone over, except the boys' sitters, and took caution to where our flea ridden family traveled.
Finally after a few months of this hell I realized I was not itchy. I no longer saw tiny fleas on my white shirt jump halfway across the room just as I tried to get them. Finally all of our efforts got rid of them!
I kind of feel like a stronger and smarter person now that I have survived fleas. This May arrived and I realized that with the chaos of a newborn, the husband had neglected to treat our remaining dog! I made him go to the pet store THAT DAY for flea medicine and checked the dog for fleas. Safe. I told him to mark three months on the calendar. If you fail to do so and we get fleas again, I am leaving. I will NOT deal with that again. You can stay in the house in the winter with the windows open.