FLEAS, FLEAS — GO AWAY! (Our Medical Battles due to Fleas)

So, I had a roommate who was really awesome. However, eventually her girlfriend started living with us and somehow eventually we ended up with a cat too. The cat became a little terror and liked to pounce on Makiko or play with her tail. Makiko didn’t like this one bit but we were figuring out how to deal with this. What I couldn’t deal with? The FLEAS that came with this cat. I really really really wish these ladies would have told me that the cat had fleas before bringing him into the apartment because that would have totally changed my answer about the cat… which is probably why they didn’t.

What resulted, however, was our apartment becoming completely flea infested. In June, we went to the vet because Makiko was super scratchy. Vet said that by the location of the dandruff and where she is really itchy, they thought it was caused by fleas. However, they didn’t see any fleas on her at the time and she has always had flea protection applied monthly. A few weeks later, one of my coworkers saw little white worms crawling around in her poop — TAPEWORMS! Ugh! So we called up the vet and picked up a prescription for tapeworm medication. It did wonders. The next day, however, she started throwing up and having diarrhea. Poor baby even threw up on me even though you could tell she didn’t want to. That only lasted a few hours, however, and we aren’t sure if it was from accidentally eating something or the tapeworm medication.

In the middle of August we ended up at the Vet again because Makiko was SUPER uncomfortable and her behavior was starting to be affected. She would randomly just leave my office and go roaming around the whole entire office. It was so frustrating and embarrassing, but sometimes funny, to have my Area Manager, or fellow counselor, tell me that my dog was out or bring my dog back to me. She had never done this for the past 5 months so I knew something was up. We took her back to the vet and I could even see the fleas crawling around on this poor girl. YUCK! I took a video of one crawling around her too.

So they gave us CapStar (to immediately kill the fleas) and changed us to Trifexis. This is a combination heartworm, tick, and flea preventative. Obviously Frontline Plus wasn’t working so we had to try something new. I’m fortunate that GDB (Guide Dogs for the Blind) is supporting the cost of this for us now. They also advised us to give her a bath after the medication all had time to work and the fleas had time to drop off of her. So we did that. We bathe her at Dirty Dawgs, a GREAT place in Dallas, which offers both self-serve and professional grooming services. We bathe her, which I did with oatmeal shampoo to provide some relief, and then the staff comes and cuts her nails and cleans her ears.. all for $17! Not bad! Makiko had scratched some pretty fierce sores on her stomach that were pretty red and so we wanted to help clean off everything that was making her itchy and provide some relief. Mission Accomplished!

I also changed her bed out at work and she seemed to be much more comfortable for a few weeks. Until she started to itch more again and then her belly, where we had previously gotten it to come down in swelling and redness, was now really bright red again. My aunt, who is a veterinarian, said that steroids or hydrocortisone might be helpful. So I emailed the Vet’s office and the head veterinarian there recommended we come back in for steroids. I made the appointment and we went back in. THIS time they gave us: Fish Oil pills (1000mg daily), oral steroids, and hydrocortisone shampoo. We had previously been giving her fish oil/omega 3 treats but they wanted us to up the dosage. The oral steroids were to provide some relief, as was the shampoo. They recommended us bathe her a few times each week but that’s not feasible with my limited transportation options and budget.. so we’re going to bathe her every two weeks about until we’re sure this is gone. I have been giving her her steroid pill in peanut butter because I want to MAKE SURE that it gets down her and boy has she sure been loving that!

Makiko seems to be pretty comfortable and happy now. Her coat is very shiny and I never see her itch anymore. Her belly is looking great, and we don’t have anymore behavior issues. ALTHOUGH, when we were having behavior issues, my mother came up with the brilliant idea to bring a bungie cord to work and we put it under the desk in a loop. Now I just clip Makiko’s leash onto that and we don’t have to worry about her wandering the office. It’s about 50/50 that I use that now because many times she will just stay but I think she got used to wandering the office so we’re still working on curbing that desire. I’m just happy that she seems to be back to her normal self, health and personality wise, and that we might finally be getting rid of this flea problem.

The roommates and cat no longer live here. However when they did I helped them purchase frontline for cats so that the cat would stop getting fleas and we could start to solve the apartment flea infestation. We vacuumed ALL THE TIME, had pest control come out twice and bomb the apartment, and then when my new roommate moved in (I had told her about the flea problem), she bought this Hot Shots Flea spray and we have sprayed frequently with that. I really think the flea problem might be coming to an end.. thank GOODNESS.. because not only were they biting her but my legs were SPOTTED from all the flea bites. Mom also thinks that a few may have gotten into her house but I thnk everything is fine now. Itchy itchy for all involved and what a pain.

I know this for sure — if I ever have any animals co-habitate with us in the future- a REQUIREMENT is going to be actively on flea control and heart worm prevention.

As always through medical battles, I am so blessed that GDB has a veterinary financial assistance program, thanks to their donors, that help us when the cost of these appointments get too high. I wouldn’t have been able to provide all of this medical care for Makiko (without completely breaking the bank) without their help.

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Jessica N and Makiko

Jessica is a proud Texan. She graduated in 2014 with her Master of Science in Rehabilitation Counseling and is now employed. She is visually impaired and has a retinal disease, Retinitis Pigmentosa. Originally Jessica started blogging about everything from being diagnosed with the disease to where she is now, almost 9 years later. Then, Jessica went to Guide Dogs for the Blind and was blessed with Makiko, her new guide dog. Now, her blog "The Way Eye See The World" is about everything related to visual impairments, including guide dogs.

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