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Savvy Nana's Corner - Tykemart

Savvy Nana's Corner - Tykemart (2)

TykeMart blogger Savvy Nana shares funny stories about family and friends.  A typical day in her world can include escaped hens and other interesting surprises.  Get a peek into her world of fun loving friends and family who are always doing something interesting.

We are a family of pet lovers.  We have raised cats, dogs, birds, and even a miniature horse.  We are well versed in the joys and heartaches of pet ownership.  When we decided to get a new puppy we did so as fairly seasoned dog owners.

We brought home our puppy, an 8 week old female Siberian Husky whom we named Canoli, last week.  We picked her up from a local AKC registered breeder.  He informed us that while he was bathing her he found ONE flea.  He gave me a foil wrapped pill called Sentinel to give her with dinner. He said it would take care of any potential flea problem. 

We had brought a pet carrier with us for transport, but due to her nervousness we decided she would sit on my lap.  As a precaution we did not let her on the upholstery, in case she had fleas.  The ride home was uneventful, she slept all the way which allowed me to check for fleas in her soft fluffy fur, I didn't see any or any evidence of them.  I gave her the Sentinel pill with dinner and set about getting her used to her new environment thinking that she was flea free, I wasn't concerned. 

The next morning on our way to work I noticed her scratching.  I checked for fleas again, this time I found evidence, gross black specks on her fur.  I even saw a flea crawling around her face, I tried to catch it but it was too fast.  At my office I searched the web for remedies and contacted the breeder.  Both sources told me to bathe her in either baby shampoo or Dawn dishwashing detergent then comb her with a flea comb. 

We returned home and I dutifully bathed.  I found ONE dead flea.  I combed her but didn't find anymore.  I was relieved.  I hate fleas and must be ever vigilant against them as I also have a very hairy Tonkalayan cat in the house who currently has no fleas. I was confident that I had gotten ahead of a possible flea infestation and surely the Sentinel would work soon.  To be safe puppy stayed on my patio crated when unsupervised or supervised in the yard. I also washed the towels and her bedding.

Friday morning I saw another pesky critter crawling around Canoli's face.  Grossed out as I was I managed to capture and kill it.  Again I searched her thick fur and found the black specs.  I was hesitant to bathe her again, instead I combed her with the flea comb, not an easy task on a dog with an undercoat.  I didn't catch anymore fleas so I figured the one I did catch was the one who got away from the Dawn.  Just to be certain I searched the web again for more remedies, I found several treatments with various products,  essential oil, lemon, borax, apple cider vinegar, and other natural ingredients.  I also researched over the counter and prescribed pills and topical treatments.  I saved the fruits of my research for future reference, I was still confident I had it licked.  I then checked the cat for flea activity and found none. I vaccumed carpets and furniture everywhere even tho puppy wasn't in the house and cat isn't allowed into the carpeted bedrooms, thankfully the rest of the house has marble or wood floors, but I mopped them just in case.

Saturday morning I saw yet another flea crawling on her face, I was a bit freaked out, but I was taking her back to the breeder for her second Parvo shot, surely he had a remedy.  Upon arrival at breeder's I told him about my flea issues, he was baffled, he claimed his dogs, and he had many, didn't have fleas.  I tended to believe him because I was in his carpeted living room surrounded by puppy's grandmother, mother, and siblings and didn't get a single flea bite.  I also figured if he had a flea infestation he and his partner would be seriously flea bitten, they lived with many dogs in their carpeted house.  He sprayed Canoli (and me because I was holding her) with Frontline and told me it was what they use on their show dogs, it should take care of the adult fleas and the Sentinel would take care of the rest.  He also said that it would be ok to bathe her again if I found any more fleas, but did say to use Dawn with caution as it may dry her skin and also burns if it gets in her eyes, he recommended baby shampoo.  He advised against using Capstar to kill adult fleas because it has been known to cause seizures and even death in puppies.  He did say I could use topical spot-on treatment.  So smelling of Frontline we headed home.

That afternoon she was still scratching. I freaked out.  So I set about making ALL the homemade remedies I had found on the internet.  I made a shampoo mixture of Dawn,  a spray of Apple Cider Vinegar mixture, a flea collar of lavender essential oil, a rub of lavender essential oil and Olive Oil, and a citrus spray with lemons.  I was ready for war! 

I checked the cat to see if he needed immediate treatment, not a flea on him.  I went to battle in the patio, I started by giving puppy a bath with the shampoo.  It worked great, the fleas were literally dying in front of my eyes!  I found 13 dead or nearly dead adult fleas which I dropped in hot soapy water.  I dried her then sprayed her with the ACV mixture which I combed thru her fur, no fleas combed out.  Then I rubbed the oil mixture between her shoulders and tail base, and wrapped the lavender infused scarf around her neck.  I had to wait on the citrus spray as it had to sit overnight.  I also washed her bedding and towels I in hot water then dried them in the dryer.  I  repeated the vaccuming and mopping of the house,  I wanted to cover all my bases.  I know it was propably over reaction on my part, but I'd rather be safe than sorry. 

Sunday morning I found her scratching again.  I checked her and saw those dreaded black specs, not much, but enough to make me want to cry.  I did not see any fleas roaming around so decided to skip the bath and just spray her with the now ready citrus spray.  For good measure I sprayed and combed the cat as well even, no fleas there.  I also ran around spraying the house and patio furniture, any place those hated creatures could be lurking. Surely this would lick my flea problem, or so I thought.

Monday afternoon she was scratching again, although on checking I found neither fleas or black spots.  I gave up on the home remedies!  I called the Vet (I couldn't call during the weekend, the office was closed) and the exterminator.  The exterminator would come first thing next morning and I would pick up an adulticide from the vet that afternoon. 

Early Tuesday morning Dave the exterminator arrived with his spray can of Nylar and his canister filled with what he described as a "green" adulticide, a mixture that kills adult fleas while being safe and non-toxic to humans and animals.  He asked a few questions, namely which rooms the puppy hangs out in and if any of us had gotten flea bites.  When I told him pup doesn't go indoors and that no one has gotten bites he told me that he didn't think I had a serious infestation and if he only treated the yard and patio it would be considered part of our regular fumigation plan and there would be no charge.  I insisted he fumigate the whole house, my car, and the yard.  He thought it was a bit of an overkill, but agreed that prevention was the key to avoiding an infestation, he also stressed that the pets must be treated as well.  I told him we were going to the vet as soon as he was done with the fumigation.

After Dave left and we had aired out the house, although the chemicals were pet and human safe it still had an unpleasant odor, I headed for the vet with cat and dog in tow.  The animals were weighed and examined, after some discussion the puppy got a dose of topical Frontline, the cat a dose of topical Revolution.  I was advised to stop bathing the pets in Dawn nor were they to bathe with any flea and tick shampoos, it was baby shampoo for them.  I was told however that if it was an emergency I could possibly use Dawn ONCE, only until I could get the proper flea treatment.  To avoid any emergency flea problems I picked up a six month supply of both products before heading home. 

I'm hoping that the Frontline and Sentinel will do the job and we are finally flea free.  I really hate those nasty bugs, fleas are not just annoying, they are unhealthy for pets and their owners.  Flea bites are itchy and for those pets and humans allergic to flea bites they can cause some major problems.  I know that I get positively crazy whenever I see a flea and tend to over react, but in my mind nipping the problem in the bud avoids a lot of trouble and expense. 

I don't consider myself a flea prevention expert, but I have learned a few new things this past week.  Here are some helpful facts, tips, and remedies to help you deal with your pets' fleas before your entire house gets infested. 

What to look for:

1.  Scratching - flea bites are very itchy, if your pet has fleas your pet will constantly scratch, this could be an indication of flea bites

2.  Black Specks on the pet's fur - usually found by the hair shafts or on the skin these specks are actually flea "poop" or flea dirt- they are composed of the blood meal the flea has consumed.  Comb your pet's fur regularly and look for these gross specks, they sort of look like pepper.  If you're not sure that the black dots you see are flea dirt wet a paper towel or cotton ball and dab it on a spot, if it turns reddish brown as it dissolves then you more than likely got fleas.

3.  Adult fleas - at times, specially if your pet has a lot of fleas you will actually see the nasty things crawling or jumping on your pet.  Usually they are more visible around the face area or the legs and paws, your pets generally have shorter fur in those areas. 


What to do if you find fleas:

1.  Get rid of the adult fleas with either a natural home remedy or a dose of adulticide from your vet.  I don't recommend running to Walmart to buy flea collars or over the counter remedies; flea collars are ineffective; with OTC remedies you run the risk of applying the wrong dose, give to little the fleas stay, too much your pet could get sick.  There are many good products out there such as Advantage, Frontline,  Comfortis, and Capstar to name a few.  Each will kill adult fleas that are on your pet.  Some like Capstar will act in 30 minutes, you will see dead fleas falling off your pet.  They have different active ingredients and some have the added benefit of killing ticks as well. These products can either be in tablet form or liquid topicals. The choice and dose of product will vary depending on your pet's age and weight.  That's why you must go to the vet to get these products so that you get the correct dosage and are made aware of the risks and how they work.


These products kill adult fleas but do not deal with eggs and larvae.  I use them in conjunction with an IGR.

2.  Get rid of future fleas by dosing the pet with a IGR (Insect Growth Regulator) product from your vet.  IGRs break the flea cycle by preventing eggs and larvae from maturing, they don't hatch and die.  There are many good products to choose from, among them are Sentinel and Program flavor tabs, they stop the development of flea eggs and/or larvae.  Sentinel has the added benefit of heartworm prevention. Both these products are tablets that should be given with food.   Like the adulticides mentioned above there are different active ingredients in these products and the choice and dosage is dependent on the pet's age and weight.  The vet is the best person to determine which product is right for your pet. 


There are other products available that will kill adult fleas, AND stop the development of eggs and larvae.  I'm not familiar with them at this time because I could not use any of them on my puppy.  Consult your vet about all the options available for flea control and which is the best one for your pets. 

I did learn from my vet that the two types of flea control products mentioned above, adulticides and IGRs, can be used TOGETHER.  However if using them together different forms must be used; one must be a tablet and the other a topical; you cannot use both as topicals or both as tablets. 

3.  Vacuum, vacuum, vacuum!  Vacuum carpets, baseboards, couches, and everything in your house that could be safe harbor for fleas and eggs.  Empty vacuum bags and canisters after every use.  Seal all the debris you remove from vacuums in airtight bags before you throw them away to prevent fleas, eggs, and larvae from falling or jumping out and re-infesting your home and pets.  Flea eggs and larvae can lie dormant for a very long time, the vibration from anything passing can awaken them and they will hitch a ride on you or your pet. 

4.  Wipe down and mop hard surfaces including plastic pet toys, to pick up any eggs or larvae that may have gotten on them. 

5.  Wash pet bedding, towels, stuffed toys, and all fabrics where fleas can hide.  If possible wash them in hot water and dry them in the dryer.  High heat will kill all eggs and larvae.

6.  Don't forget your car, even if your pets haven't ridden it, fleas could have hitched a ride on anyone who rides the car.  Vacuum and wipe down carpets, seats, consoles, and the trunk.

7.  If you have a major infestation you may have to hire a professional extermination company to fumigate your home and yard.  Be sure to ask them what chemicals they use and how they will affect your family and pets.  If possible find a company who uses environmentally safe products, these are usually toxic to fleas but safe for humans and animals.  Should you choose to use a professional exterminator they will advise you to treat your pets and clean and vacuum your house to ensure that the infestation is cleared up.  For extreme cases fumigation may have to be redone to get rid of all the fleas.

Natural alternatives to get rid of and prevent fleas:

1.  Flea collar:  Immerse a pet collar or bandana in a mixture of one tablespoon water and 1-3 drops of lavender essential oil.  When it dries put it on your pet.  You can use this on dogs but NOT cats. 

Essential oils are harmful to cats. 

2.  Flea shampoo:  Mix 1 cup Dawn, 1 cup white vinegar, 1 quart water.  Use this to bathe your dog.  Remember to start by forming a good lather around your pet's neck, fleas will flea to higher ground when you bathe your pet.  The lather acts as a barrier that will prevent them from gathering on your pet's head and face.  Keep this barrier well lathered as you wash the rest of the body.  Lather up the legs, paws, and tail.  I like to wet my finger in the soap and dab it on the head and face to get fleas that were there before you started.  Be extra careful not to get soap in the eyes and nose, it will burn.  Keep the soap on for about 10-15 mins. before rinsing. 



Dawn dish soap is a degreaser and will instantly kill fleas, you will literally see them die.  But Dawn also washes off the natural oils that keep your pet's skin from drying up.  It will also wash off any topical treatment you may have applied to your pet.  My vet advises against using Dawn in your normal pet bathing routine.  If you must use it do not use it more than once a month, that is what the vet told me.

3.  Oil Rub:  1 tablespoon Olive Oil, 1-2 drops lavender essential oil.  Rub this on your dog's skin between the shoulder blades and at the base of the tail.  DO NOT use this on cats.

4.  ACV Spray:  1 cup Apple Cider Vinegar (organic if possible), 1 quart water, 3 drops lavender essential oil.  Fill a spray bottle and spray it on your pet, avoid the face.  Use a damped cloth on the head, face, and ears.  Spray pet bedding and the surrounding area.  DO NOT use this on cats.

5.  Citrus Spray:  Slice a couple of lemons and place in a heatproof bowl.  Boil a big pot of water.  Pour the boiled water over the lemon slices.  Let sit over night.  Fill a spray bottle and spray your pet, avoid the face.  Brush your pet to work in the lemon spray.  Use this to spray couches, carpets, anywhere fleas can hide.  You can use it on cats and dogs.

6.  Plant flea repellent plants in your yard or in containers.  Be very careful when planting herbs and plants as some of them are harmful to pets.  True mints (mentha - peppermint, spearmint, etc.), sage, rue, lavender, catnip, lemongrass, and rosemary are some herbs that safely repel fleas.  Avoid planting Pennyroyal, also know as flea bane, anywhere around children and pets, the leaves are toxic when ingested.

The above natural remedies are said to repel or kill adult fleas, they do not do anything to eggs and larvae.  You may still have to use an IGR to completely eliminate fleas.  

Whichever remedy you choose use it as soon as you see the first sign of fleas to avoid an infestation, better yet, do it before you see that first flea.  Prevention is truly the best policy when it comes to dealing with fleas!

My Neighbor

“MOM!” my daughter screamed, “There’s a ROOSTER in our yard!”  Having a manic fear of fowls and birds I peeked out of my kitchen window to see what my grown daughter was panicking about.  I saw no rooster or any such creature, only our goofy pet Doberman romping around the backyard.  I told my daughter this, to which she responded “On the fence mother!  The ROOSTER is on the fence!”

I peeked outside the patio door and sure enough a big fat hen was perched on top of the fence separating us from our neighbor.  “It’s a HEN not a ROOSTER.” I informed my daughter who was peering warily at the offending fowl.

“Whatever, it’s NOT supposed to be sitting on our wall!”  I couldn’t argue with her logic so I asked her to find out if it belonged to our neighbor. 

Now it might seem that we live on a farm, far from it.  We live in suburban Honolulu.  It’s not unusual for folks in our state to raise poultry in their backyards, it’s so common that the City Council has had to pass ordinances limiting the amount of chickens one can have in their suburban yards.  So it wasn’t a shock that one of my neighbors owned hens, now to find out which one owned the escaped bird.

We are flanked by two neighbors and back into a “planned golf course”, aka huge empty overgrown field.  So the hen could have come from anywhere.  We asked our neighbor on the right if said creature was hers, she happened to be out that afternoon watering their lawn.  She ran into her house when we pointed out the hen, clearly it wasn’t hers. 

I sent my son-in-law over to the other neighbor’s house, I strongly suspected it was his hen.  My son-in-law returned with neighbor in tow to have a look at the hen, after much debate he decided it was in fact his wife’s hen. 

Sometime during all this the hen hopped off its perch where it had been safe from our dog, the flapping and fussing of course alerted the dog who came barreling towards the clucking hen.  The owner intercepted the dog, narrowly averting a massacre.  A chase ensued, everyone, hen, neighbor, and dog were chasing each other around my yard.  I wisely retreated into my house to watch the comedy behind the safety of my screen door. 

My neighbor finally caught the hen, tucked it under his arm and walked home promising to return with an explanation. 

He returned a few days later and explained that he’s sort of a “prepper”.  He told us of the next impending disaster, a stock market collapse, riots and chaos in the streets.  He was prepared, the hens, he has 3, would provide eggs, which he would eat with the rice he has stockpiled in his garage. 

So for the last few years I’ve known I live next door to a prepper, no big deal, he brings us organic eggs every now and then. 

I’ve gotten used to his predictions of doom.  I thought I heard everything, until today, when I overheard a conversation between my 12 year old grandson and prepper neighbor’s 13 year old son.  The boy was offering to give my grandson homemade lock picks, his father’s new hobby is crafting lock picks and teaching his son how to use them. 

Intrigued I asked why.  The answer was “My dad’s kind is of weird, instead of teaching me how to play ball he teaches me how to pick locks.  I guess it could come in handy if we ever get hungry and need to get sandwich stuff from Subway.”

I raised my eyebrow and he added, “Just kidding we would never do bad stuff, but you never know when the skill will come in handy.”

I guess it’s one more quirk I can attribute to my neighbor, but I can’t complain, after all we did have a horse in our backyard not too long ago.  It’s no wonder the manager of our Homeowners’ Association dislikes the people in my loop, we’re all just one step away from crazy. 

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