I hate the little buggers.
At one of my vet tech jobs, Saturday was flea bath day. From eight in the morning until about two in the afternoon EVERY SINGLE SATURDAY I gave animals flea baths. It was horrid. We had to lather them up, leave the lather on them for ten or so minutes and you cannot imagine anything more annoying than having to hold a poor, wet, flea shampoo covered cat still for ten minutes and then comb the dead fleas out before rinsing them.
I miss a lot of things about working with animals, but NOT that.
The good thing is that there are now GREAT flea treatments out there that work far, far better than any flea bath or god forbid a flea bomb (the best way in the world to kill all those non-existent air-born fleas, entirely missing the ones in your carpet). The various monthly treatments that are now available are excellent, as long as you use them every month from April to October (at least).
I know some folks worry that the monthly flea treatments are toxic for kids and pets, but I’ll tell you what my veterinarian told me. If you don’t know, monthly flea treatments are a topical treatment that actually enters your pet’s bloodstream, delivering poison to the fleas each time they try to take a bite out of your pet. Even if you have a flea infestation, if you use this product over a period of several months you will be able to eliminate the fleas entirely (although I also recommend vacuuming regular, especially if you have carpets, and washing dog beds!).
Blessedly, animals don’t live long enough to see the side effects that might be a result of those flea treatment. If dogs lived for forty years, we might have to worry about the flea treatments and toxicity. Also, NEVER use a dog product on a cat!!! Cats are FAR more sensitive to chemicals than dogs (in fact, I saw more than one cat die during old school flea baths, which was horrid).
If you’re worried about exposing kids while the medication is in the process of being absorbed, my veterinarian recommends applying at night, right after the kids have gone to bed, and then taking a wet washcloth or paper towel and wiping that spot down lightly (not rubbing; it takes 24 hours to fully absorb) to help avoid kids touching it. This is less of an issue on thick haired dogs, by the way; my short haired pit bull ends up with an eight-inch swath of the stuff which can be tough.
Because some parts of the United States had far warmer winters than usual (hello, Eastern Seaboard!) my vet tells me we are headed into what might be our worst flea season in YEARS. So load up on the medication, folks, and start the battle NOW! You don’t want to end up with your ankles all flea bitten. Been there, done that, and it sucks.
Good luck! And DIE, FLEAS, DIE.