My technician, Jen, came into my office to let me know my next patient was here. She told me Gertie McGoogle was here with her Chihuahua, Mad Dog, and she was beside herself. Fleas had taken over her house and she had no idea where they could have possibly come from. She had told Jen that she had tried everything and was still having problems. I quickly checked Mad Dog’s record and saw that I hadn’t even seen him in the last four years. I had a hunch that Gertie’s claim that she had tried “everything” wasn’t true since in those four years I hadn’t had a chance to discuss new flea products.
“Good morning, Gertie. I heard you have been really having a time with fleas lately.”
“Doc! You have got to help me! You couldn’t possibly believe the problem I have been dealing with. I have been battling fleas for four months and they are only getting worse.”
I thought about explaining to Gertie that I absolutely could believe it, since I talk to people about flea problems every day. The only clients I don’t talk to about fleas are those who use a flea prevention on their pets before flea season and clients who are just plain lucky. I wasn’t very busy, so I thought I would just play along. Gertie obviously had a lot she needed to get off her chest.
“First of all, I have no idea how my little Maddie could have gotten fleas. He never goes outside,” Gertie exclaimed.
“Not even to go to the bathroom?” I asked.
“Well, yeah. But that is only for a few minutes each day. Other than when he goes out to potty, he is indoors.”
“Well, Gertie, why don’t you tell me what you have tried and I will see if I can come up with any other ideas.”
“Well, I started by asking my cousin, Bertie, what she thought would work. Bertie told me years ago she had a dog and had never had fleas on him. She put Brewer’s Yeast and Garlic on his food every day. She also always used Murphy’s Oil Soap on him religiously and when she bathed him she would always use Dawn Dish Soap. Bertie swore by that combination so I started it on Mad Dog. It just didn’t work for me. It just seemed to make him itch worse and his skin got really red and stinky.”
I tried to put on my puzzled face and said, “Really? Hard to believe.”
“I kid you not Doc!” Gertie exclaimed. “So then I asked my cousin Ernie. He is a farmer and has had animals for 50 years. He recommended just putting Sevin Dust on Mad Dog every few days and on the other days sprinkle diatomaceous earth on him. At the same time, Ernie told me to get flea bombs for the house and use one in each room of the house every couple of weeks. I did exactly what he told me, but I still have fleas!”
I did my best “Home Alone”/Kevin McCallister face of shock and exclaimed, “You have got to be kidding!”
“I am very serious,” Gertie sighed. “The only other thing I could possibly think of doing was to Google it on my computer to see what else I could possibly try. I was shocked to see there were pet stores that you could order from on the computer! There were so many products to choose from that I couldn’t possibly figure out what to order. Some were cheap and some were expensive. I was sitting there trying to figure out what to do and then I noticed that one of the products said ‘Veterinarian Recommended’! It was like a light bulb went off in my head and I started to click on that product to order it, but then I got another idea. Maybe I should ask a veterinarian! So here I am. What do you think?”
“Well thank you for thinking of me Gertie. I would say I am somewhat of a flea expert, so as your fourth option for flea information, I am flattered. I am sorry you wasted all that time and money. I am going to have you give this little chewable pill to give Mad Dog every month. You will still see fleas, but they will be dying and in the next few months everything will be under control. 100 percent guaranteed.” I held out my arm and pretended to drop “the mic” and turned and stepped out of the room.
Chad Higgins, DVM has owned Amanda Animal Hospital for almost 20 years. He sees dogs, cat, ferrets and other little furry critters.