About Me:

I am a professional Pet Groomer. I have been grooming for 28 years. This Blog is a kind of diary of my work. I wish I had started years ago, writing some of the experiences I have had while grooming. Most days are fun, some can be sad, some can be just down right crazy. If you are a pet owner and come across this blog, I hope it helps you understand how your pet is groomed. If you are a Pet Groomer, I hope you can relate to some of the stories. Maybe even learn a grooming tip or can leave a friendly grooming tip for me. There is always something to learn, no matter how long you have been grooming.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

This Dog Has FLEAS!!


I hate fleas.

Every groomer does.

How can such a teeny, tiny bug cause so much trouble and be so hard to get rid of?

They are like little armored, blood sucking monsters.

Thankfully, due to flea medications and spot-on flea treatments, the fleas are not nearly as bad as they were when I first started grooming.

I remember the first time I ever saw a flea infested dog.
I was still in grooming school and it was a Springer Spaniel.
We clipped everything before the bath in grooming school, so I had put this dog on my table and started to clip it with a #7 blade.
Well, lets say I started to try to clip it.
I struggled to get the blade down the dogs back.
There was all of this black pepper like stuff on the dogs skin and in his hair.
I really did think that someone had poured some kind of pepper like substance in this dogs hair.

Then I notice that something was jumping on my arm.
I looked closer to the dogs back...and it was moving!
Yes, it really look like the dogs skin was moving.
I called the instructor over.
"There is something wrong with this dogs back," I told her.
She took one look at his back and said, "those are fleas walking all over his back and that is 'flea dirt' all over him."
I had never seen anything like that.
There were so many fleas on this dog that his skin actually looked like it was crawling.
You could literally see the fleas walking all over his back where I had clipped.
It looked like a California freeway.
They were also jumping all over the place.
I was still told to clip the dog quickly and get it in the tub for a dipping.

I was also not ready for what happened next.

As soon as I started wetting the dog with water two things happened.
The fleas started jumping all over the place, but worst than that...the dog was seriously bleeding.
The water running off of the dog was RED!!

Okay...now wait a minute...
I was just learning how to groom.
I had never seen an infestation before.
I didn't know there was any such thing.

Once again I yelled for the instructor, who if I might add, should have warned me about the fact that 'flea dirt' was actually flea excrement in the form of blood, and that when that black, peppery looking 'flea dirt' got wet it looked like blood running.

Once that dog was wet, the number of fleas that surfaced was enough to blow your mind.

I  don't remember a lot after that.
I know that we drenched that dog in smelly flea Dip and put him in a kennel to dry.
That was pretty much the extent of dealing with fleas in grooming school.

As I said at the beginning of this post, I don't see many dogs with flea infestations anymore.
Occasionally we will get a dog in with anywhere from a few fleas to about a dozen.
Every once in a while we do get one in with a flea infestation, but nothing like I used to see.

Whether it is a few fleas, or a lot of fleas, we jump into flea mode.
I hate fleas.
I do not want fleas in my shop!
We do everything that we can to contain the fleas to the tub.

I learned a long time ago, and after trying and using many different flea shampoos, that you can use just about any shampoo to kill fleas, but there is a trick to it.
✴ It must be a nice thick shampoo.
✴ You must lather the dog up with a lot of suds.
✴ You must make sure that the shampoo is covering every inch of the dog/cats body.

Now hold on to your hats.
Some of you may agree with my go to flea shampoo, some of you may not.

This is my go to flea shampoo.

It was recommended to me by my Vet years ago.

I figured if my Vet said it was okay to use on cats and dogs, I should give it a try.

I did, and I loved it.

It is thick but not too thick.

It spreads great.

It suds up great.

And, it stops fleas in their tracks.

Here are the steps that I do for a flea bath.

Step ➀ :
❉ If I already know that a dog has fleas, I do not wet them down first like I would normally do. I take the Joy® and put it around the dogs neck making a ring around the neck. I add a little water and sud up the neck. Why? I do  this to stop any fleas from running from the dog or cats body up onto their head and face.
Before I started doing this, it was always a race to stop the fleas from running up into the dog/cats eyes, and ears to get away from the shampoo.

❉ Next, I put some of the Joy® on my fingers, and very carefully, work the soap around the dog/cats nose, mouth and eyes. You must be very careful not to get any soap in the eyes. I have had a dog move at the wrong moment and get this soap in the eye, but after rinsing the eye immediately, I have not ever had any problem with the Joy® hurting a dog or cats eyes.

❉After the head has been soaped up, I move to the body and squirt the Joy® on the body adding water as I am rubbing. I use as much soap as I need to get a really good leather on the dog or cat. Then the waiting game starts. The dog/cat must soak in the shampoo for at least 5 to 10 minutes. Your main goal is to suffocate the fleas.

❉Rinse, rinse, rinse. I spend a long time rinsing, because I also spend a long time rinsing as many fleas off the dog as I can. My goal is to get all of the fleas off in the tub and wash them down the drain.
 This is not an easy task in the least. Those suckers stick to the skin and hair like they were holding on for dear life. Well, I guess they are.
I put the sprayer up against the skin to try and get up under the flea and flush it out of the hair.

❉The second bath. Yes, I always give a second Medicated bath after I have used the Joy® on a dog or cat. (make sure the medicated shampoo is cat safe) I soap the dog/cat up in a good medicated shampoo, and let them soak for another 5 minutes. This serves two proposes for me. One is the fact that it does not hurt for the dog to soak for another five minutes to suffocate any fleas that you may have missed with the first soaking. The second purpose is for the medicated shampoo to help with any skin irritation that the flea bites may have caused the pet.

❉While all of the above is being done, someone should be calling the owner if you do not think that they are aware that their pet has fleas. I let the owner know that I am getting all of the fleas off of their pet, but they must now do their part. I tell them that while their pet is with me they must wash all bedding, vacuum both their home and car. If the pet is infested, I also suggest that they flea bomb their house while the pet is out of it. Lastly, I recommend to them that they make a trip to their Vet and pick up flea medication. I also let the owner know that if they do not do everything that I am telling them, that their pet will get fleas again.

We also flea bomb our shop after we have had a dog come in with fleas.

I do not Dip.
I refuse to use the stuff.
I have no problem telling my customers that.

I wish that I could give Capstar® to dogs that come into my shop with fleas.
(❉Capstar® is a flea pill given orally and will start killing fleas on the dog within minutes after ingesting. It only lasts in the system for 24 hours.❉)
I have read on grooming forums where other groomers give Capstar®, but I am not sure about the laws here on doing something like that, and I really do not want that liability on my shoulders.

I recommend Comfortis® to my customers. 
It is a monthly flea prevention pill.
 They can buy it by the pack, or by the pill from Californiapet.com.
They must get a prescription from their Vet.

The dogs/cats are flea free when they leave my shop, but it is up to the owner to keep them that way.☺

As I said before, the Joy® was recommended by my Vet. 
I have been flea bathing dogs and cats with it for over 20 some years.
I have not ever had a dog or cat have any kind of reaction to it.
I always follow up with a Medicated bath.
Good luck dealing with those little blood sucking monsters.  ☺

✂ Happy Grooming, MFF ✂


  1. I'm so glad we don't deal with fleas very much where I live. I'd say less than 6 dogs a year come in with 5 fleas or less. I've NEVER seen anything as bad as your pictures or description. YUCK!!!

    Over the summer, though, I was washing one of my regulars, a Maltese, and she had all these tiny black spots on her. They weren't moving, so I knew they weren't fleas. I grabbed one of the other groomers who said that was one of the worst LICE infestations she had every seen. The poor dog looked like a poppy seed bagel.

    Hurray for living in a dry climate that gets cold in the winter! I'm not sure I would have been able to last long as a groomer dealing with flea-infested dogs regularly.

    1. Hi Jennifer,
      Have yet to see Lice on a dog. Have seen Maggots once.....don't ever want to see them again.
      Lisa, MFF

  2. This post is so helpful. I have never seen a flea infestation but when I do (because it will happen) I will be so grateful you provided all of this information. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    1. Your Welcome!
      Lets hope that you DON"T see one. :)
      Glad I could help.
      Lisa, MFF

  3. fantastic post! i never would have thought of using such a product but the more i think about it the more it makes sense! we dont have JOY over here but im sure a similiar washing up product would be just as useful?
    im very jealous of the comments that havent seen fleas! what i wouldnt give to be in that boat :P

    1. Hi DJ,
      I do not know if you have Dawn® dish-washing liquid over there, it is similar to the Joy and is what they use on all of the wildlife after oil spills to get the oil off. If it is safe for wildlife, I would trust it on dogs. Whatever you try, I would defiantly follow it up with a good Medicated bath.
      Lisa, MFF

  4. I hate fleas and ticks!!!! I read in some forum about the dawn never tryied it thou. Wich med do you use i usually use eqyss micotek or tropiclean oxy something...how do you deal with ticks?? I deal with lots lots of ticks :/

    1. Hi Jessica,
      I have been using Ring5® Medi-Septic medicated shampoo for 25 years and really like the stuff. I have used other medicated shampoos but always seem to go back to my Medi-Septic. you should use whatever medicated shampoo that you like.

      As for ticks....I remove them from the dog and flush them down the toilet. lol
      You can also pour some alcohol in a small cup and put the ticks in the alcohol till you are finished the dog, or want to show them to the owner. The alcohol will eat through the armor of the tick and eventually kill it.
      Oh, I also take a alcohol soaked cotton ball and press it against the tick while still on the dog. This will cause the tick to release its hold, making it a little easier to remove.
      Lisa, Mff

  5. Yes where I live we don't have fleas. Very hot and DRY in the summer and very cold in the winter. I always smile when a customer that moves in from out of state and I see a flea collar. "We don't have fleas here." They can't believe it. I usually make their day. Thank you for this post because I was never trained to look for fleas. I'm sure on some weird chance one my dogs leave the state or one moves in I'll know what to do. :) Ruth

    1. WOW Ruth!
      Someplace with no fleas! Can I live there? You are so lucky!! :)
      Lisa, MFF

  6. ...I've had my dog for just over 6 years and she got fleas the other day from some a friends house, honestly, I'm at wits end trying to just pull them out...its only 4 or 5 of them but honestly I'd really like to just stick my dog in the pool tomorrow and drown all the fleas...I can try that I guess...but I can't make my entire family leave the house for the time it takes for the flea bomb to go off...and since my dog goes everywhere I really don't know what I should and shouldn't wash...

    1. Hi Chrono,
      Go to your Vet and ask for a Capstar pill. Capstar kills all fleas on your dog within the first 20 minutes after it is given to your dog. Capstar only lasts for 24 hours. Talk to your Vet about a Topical flea treatment, (I personally will not use Frontline on my dogs) or a flea pill that will last 30 days, such as Comfortis. Wait at least 48 hours after the Capstar to give any other flea treatment.
      Lisa, MFF

  7. There are many effective flea and tick treatment which works very well on dogs. A year ago, my dog had fleas and now he is perfectly fine by Frontline topical treatment.

    1. Hi Neil,
      I no longer recommend Frontline to my customers, or use it on my own dogs. I have found that it no longer seems to be as effective as it used to be. It also gave my St. Poo a serious chemical burn where I had applied it. It took a year for her hair to grown back where I had applied it.
      I now recommend and use Comfortis.
      Lisa, MFF

  8. Thank you for the tip about the shampoo