OK, so technically, the plural of 'flea' is 5 letters lol. It's still a 4-letter word around here... (Long story coming up, but it has a point, I promise!
When my daughter and I first moved into our apartment 3 years ago, apparently the previous tenants had cats. And also apparently, the cats had had fleas - a small fact which the property manager 'forgot' to mention to us before/when we moved in. Also, apparently, I am allergic to flea bites! Three weeks or so after we moved in, I started getting huge, red, and incredibly
itchy welts all over my body, but mostly on my lower legs. I didn't have any pets at the time and had never had fleas, and so I didn't even THINK of fleas - I thought I was getting bit by some weird bug outside that I wasn't used to (it was our first fall in Seattle). Until I finally SAW one of the little buggers jump off of me, a week or two later... I freaked. After freaking (lol), I gathered my head enough together to call the property manager, who then admitted that she knew there were fleas in the apartment before we moved in, but that they had flea-bombed the place with one of those OTC kits (THANKS for warning me!!). She was very nice about it however, and called a local 'green' exterminator. All that remained for me to do was to pick absolutely everything up off of the floor (we were still moving in, and our things were everywhere!), wash all of our clothes and bedding (with no washer/dryer in the place, it cost me $50 at the laundromat to wash everything) and to be banned from my house for 14+ hours. Whatever, it was worth it, to be rid of the fleas, right?
Riggghhhtt... Fast forward to three weeks after that, when the fleas came back - with a VENGEANCE. The thing about bug bites is the bugs also inject stuff into you that numbs the spot so that you won't notice them biting you. So one day about three weeks after, I suddenly noticed that I had about 20 new huge itchy welts and this time, I also saw quite a few of them right after I realized I had already been attacked. To say that I panicked this time would be an understatement (I have a thing about bugs inside... I don't care one whit about bugs outside, but having dealt with elementary-school chronic lice, ants invading my kitchen in my previous place, etc., I can honestly say that I. Do. Not. Like. Bugs. Inside! ESPECIALLY ones that live off of people, like lice and fleas!!!). It was also 5:00 at night - - I called the property manager and she said she would make an emergency call to the exterminators, who said that they would come during the night after I picked everything up off the floors, and the property manager said that I could get a hotel room for the night and she would reimburse me. So, we did the entire rigmarole again - I spent the next 3 hours picking everything up and bagging all washables for the laundromat the next day - and then we got to spend the night in a slightly sleazy hotel room where I still
worried about fleas that might be infesting the place, and also this time, maybe bed bugs biting us... ugh. Still, all worth it, to get rid of the fleas, right??? ...RIGHT???
...Yea, I bet you can guess what happened 3 weeks after that. This time, though, I had done my research and instead of calling the exterminators, I bought a container of diatomaceous earth. I picked everything up off of the floor and bagged everything for washing just like the previous two times, but this time, I applied the diatomaceous earth to every square freaking inch of the carpets and the corners in the kitchen and bathroom (the only rooms in the place that aren't carpeted), including moving all of the furniture, beds, etc. I applied the diatomaceous earth to my couch, and to the seats in my car, and even our mattresses, just to be sure. I still had to wash everything that was possibly washable at the laundromat (for yet another $50) and leave everything else bagged up for a few weeks, but THIS time, it was
worth it - the god****ed fleas never came back.
With flea season already upon some of us (and my vet said that he expected this summer to be a very, very bad year for fleas), I just wanted to share my story with all of you Havanese parents. It only takes a couple of fleas traveling on your dog to eventually cause an infestation inside your house, before you even realize it is happening. And flea larvae grow almost everywhere, both inside and outside - in fact, if you have fleas, you absolutely have to also treat your yard along with your house, since they will be there as well. And finally, keep in mind that the monthly flea treatments DO NOT KILL ALL FLEAS IMMEDIATELY. While I am a big fan of the monthly flea treatments - assuming that your dog does not have a bad reaction of course (Cey has been treated since he's been big enough, and I will continue to treat him with those treatments every month of every year), the fact of the matter is, those treatments are not a magic force-field that somehow supernaturally blocks all fleas (or ticks) from hiking a ride on your dog, or even from biting him - and it especially doesn't prevent them from jumping OFF of your dog after they come inside, and laying their eggs in your carpet, on your couch, or in your bed. And almost nothing can kill the eggs - you have to wait until they are larvae to be able to kill them with diatomaceous earth (I think - I may be wrong - I just know that DE can kill fleas at or before the larvae stage in your carpets, and since larvae can't bite or reproduce, and you won't even be able to see them, that is just fine with me), or until they are adults if you are counting on most of the OTC pesticide-type of products out there.
Please DO note that there are two types of DE (diatomaceous earth): food-grade, and not
food-grade. As far as I know, both will sufficiently kill fleas and flea larvae in your house and carpets, but I have only ever used the non food-grade for treating my carpets (if you do use the non food-grade for treating your house, as I did, just be sure to follow the directions carefully, and clean up any and all remaining residue - - from what I understand, even non-food-grade DE is MUCH less toxic than pesticides - but you still don't want your pet or your child eating or inhaling it!). In addition to being able to treat your entire house for fleas the same way non food-grade DE can, food-grade DE can be used on a more regular basis on your pet's bedding and other places they hang out, without having to obsessively clean up the residue. (It can also be fed to your dog to supposedly help prevent intestinal parasites and worms... and I have actually been doing that with Ceylon, and it has been successful so far insofar as his fecal tests have been clean, but that is another matter... lol).
Anyway, I would VERY highly recommend using diatomaceous earth IN ADDITION to your regular flea prevention/treatments, especially
before you consider more aggressive chemical flea treatments. I would further recommend using the food-grade variety of diatomaceous earth if possible, or if you don't use food-grade, to follow all of the directions very carefully (as I said, as far as I understand it, even non-food-grade DE is MUCH less toxic than chemical pesticides - but you still wouldn't want your pet, or your child, to inhale or ingest it).
Either way, I know from personal experience that diatomaceous earth can help where almost nothing else can... so please, please give it a try, if you have fleas, think you have fleas, or are worried about fleas
(FYI, diatomaceous earth only helps inside, and as I mentioned earlier, fleas will also infect your yard - and until you treat both, you will not really be free of those little buggers! For my outside courtyard, I recently ordered live beneficial nematodes from Amazon... they haven't arrived yet so I can't tell you yet if they work or not - but everything I have read about beneficial nematodes indicates that they are a non-toxic, safe, effective treatment for fleas and also for apparently lots of other 'bad' bugs... so I want to extend a preliminary recommendation for beneficial nematodes as well, and I will let you know if I find this not to be the case!)
(I warned you it was long, didn't I?