Flora, Fauna and Fleas

Just to prove the weather’s gone crazy, I took this photo yesterday – from the car so it’s not brilliant, sorry – but these sunflowers are in full bloom and it’s the end of August.  Usually they’ve all finished around the end of July in these parts.  That’s what having rain almost every day in June will do I suppose.

This appeared in the storage box thingy next to the pool.  I want to move the box further up the garden away from scantily clad bodies but nobody has volunteered to help me.  Funny that.  Sorry for the blurry photo but I was in and out of there faster than you can say knife (or wasp) but they don’t actually seem to be interested in doing anything else but looking after their nest so might as well let them be.

My old dog Taz seems to be on his last legs – he’s thirteen next month and is now completely blind, almost deaf and seems to be confused about where he is most of the time.  He still enjoys his food though so when he suddenly slowed down his usual scarfing down of dog biscuits I was even more worried so I took him to the vets.  We have a new vet – she is amazing.  She laid down on the floor, on her back, as if she was examining the underside of a car and, without further ado, attacked his icky teeth with what looked like a cross between a pair of pliers and some nutcrackers to remove the tartar caring nothing for the close proximity of randomly snapping jaws.  He has an infection which she’s given him antibiotics for but, unfortunately, she also spotted a tumour in his mouth which she says can’t be operated on.  I wouldn’t put him through it anyway at his age.  She’s given him some tablets which may or may not inhibit the growth of the tumour but we’ll see.


Open wide

When I told her I think he has some sort of canine dementia, she said she would try oxygenating his brain.  I was filled with trepidation as to how he’d react when given a blow through with oxygen and wondered if she’d administer it through his ears or up his nose.  I was actually a bit disappointed when she just gave us more tablets.  She thought I was very funny for some reason.   I’ll give it a couple of weeks to see how he gets on but I’m in ‘preparation mode’.

With the heat this Summer we have, once again had a problem with fleas.  Despite costing me the price of a foreign holiday to treat three dogs, five cats and a large house with top of the range flea and tick treatment, those little buggers have returned.  Last year the cats were the most badly affected, this year it’s the dogs.  They usually have a topical treatment which is supposed to last a month but, three weeks in, I’ve had to give them tablets too.  I think I’m on top of the problem now but it’s not been without its moments.

I’ve become paranoid about every little black speck I see and, the other day, I tried to drown a tiny piece of black velcro that had fallen off the strap of my sandal onto my foot.  I only realised my mistake when I was studying it floating around in the glass and wondered why it didn’t have any legs.

Then, following advice on the internet, I added some cider vinegar to all the pets’ drinking water and made up a solution in a spray bottle to wet the dogs’ fur with and put some on a cloth to wipe down the cats.  I also sprayed rugs and furniture.  Only after the bottle was empty and I went to refill it did I realise I’d used red wine vinegar by mistake.  I’ve waited a couple of days to tell you this in case I had to report ill effects or drunken capers but, as there was no dancing on the tables or lewd behaviour to report I will assume no harm was done.  Although I can’t speak for what the fleas got up to.



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  1. #1 by claire93 on August 25, 2018 - 12:16

    Hello Lynn, as always you make me chuckle with your antics – this time spraying everything and anything with your red wine vinegar solution. I’m sure it’ll be just as good as the cider version, just a bit more posh!
    Sorry to hear about Taz getting old – it’s always sad to see them as they seem to battle on regardless.
    Was wondering if the tablets to oxygenate are called “Fortikor” (not sure about spelling). We were given those for one cat, and then for Blackjack, when they were suffering from heart problems and I think the aim of that was to help body absorb oxygen into the blood stream and pump it around better. Whatever, it did seem to make an improvement, and appetite picked up too. Although, of course, when our 4-legged friends get to a certain age, there’s not much we can do but make sure they’re comfortable.

    • #2 by tialys on August 25, 2018 - 12:23

      His tablets are called Candilat but I’m guessing the principle is the same. The antibiotics seem to have worked on the infection and he’s a littler nicer to know close up now :/ I’ve changed him to soft food which the other dogs – and even the cats – are lusting after big time.

  2. #3 by myquiltprojects on August 25, 2018 - 13:48

    Hopefully, the cider vinegar did not affect the fleas like hard cider affects humans. More unwanted flea pregnancies! We too have battled the flea problem. What worked best and cheapest was vinegar solution to spray the yard, and the light bulb flea traps in the house (they really work!)

    • #4 by tialys on August 25, 2018 - 19:23

      I have done lots of reading this afternoon and have already set two traps upstairs – one in my workroom and one in our bedroom. This is because I won’t be going up there again for a few hours so I closed all the windows and floated LED night light thingies in water laced with washing up liquid/dish soap. I don’t really expect to catch many if any up there because the animals aren’t allowed on the top floor. However, I’m going to be horrified if I catch any in the bedroom 😮 and probably won’t be able to sleep tonight. I’ll set more in the main living areas when we go to bed. I’ve also ordered some food grade diatomaceous earth which, by all accounts, kills everything you don’t like without harming anything you do and is more precious than unicorn breath. We’ll see.

  3. #5 by kathyreeves on August 25, 2018 - 14:39

    A regular flea circus is France! 😬 Isn’t vinegar an amazing thing? I use it to combat our hard water…I wonder if it discourages ticks too? Poor Taz, it is hard when they get old, and a sad day when they have to be put down. Preparation mode is what I would have to do as well.

    • #6 by tialys on August 25, 2018 - 19:37

      My housework weapons of choice these days are white vinegar and bicarbonate of soda. They seem to work as well, if not better, on most household tasks and are far cheaper and less ‘chemically’ too. Ticks and fleas – and the odd fly – are the only things on earth I don’t mind killing. Although I’ve never come across a bed bug and, if I did, I’d probably get pretty murderous with one of those too.

      • #7 by kathyreeves on August 26, 2018 - 03:32

        Definitely! I have become a big fan of those two as well. So much cheaper than everything else, and they work better. My personal favorite is vinegar and dish soap for the bathroom. We have hard water that leaves lime scale everywhere, and this is the only thing that has ever worked!

  4. #8 by craftycreeky on August 25, 2018 - 20:50

    Sorry to hear about Taz, we’re going through the same thing with Zac, he’s nearly 15, deaf, blind, breath that can kill at 40 paces and now he’s incontinent! Saw the vet on Saturday and she wanted to take all his teeth out, after much talking & tears we’ve decided to let him be, if he looks like he’s in pain we’ll think again, just getting a bulk buy of paper towels!

    • #9 by tialys on August 27, 2018 - 09:13

      Yes, I’m starting to think incontinence might be the next step for Taz too but I think we might let him go at that stage especially as the tumour will almost certainly progress anyway. I think you did the right thing at the vets. Removing all his teeth would mean a general anaesthetic which is dodgy at Zac’s age and it seems awful to mess with them too much when all they want to do is potter around the garden, eat and sleep. It’s very difficult isn’t it? – playing God.

  5. #10 by thecontentedcrafter on August 25, 2018 - 21:45

    Ha, I chuckled over the oxygen musings. I’m another big fan of white vinegar and baking soda. I use it for everything. I also make a very dilute solution of rosemary essential oil, wring out a cloth in it and wipe it over the furry fellows, paying particular attention to the underneath crevices. No fleas. My cat, aged twelve was diagnosed with feline dementia last year. I changed his diet and cured him – he’s as right as rain again. At the time I did a lot of research into the foods we feed our pets and came away so horrified I would never choose to feed an animal on pre-packaged foods again. I’m supposed to brush Siddy’s teeth but gave up when he tried to eat the toothbrush. His vet is very disappointed in me 🙂

    • #11 by tialys on August 27, 2018 - 09:06

      I do try to feed the dogs and cats with good quality biscuits – I don’t normally use the soft food but am having to for Taz at the minute due to his dental problems. What are you giving your pets? Are they on a raw meat diet? My neighbours tried that with their dog but, as they are vegetarian, they couldn’t quite get over the bloody packages lurking in their fridge.
      As for canine dental hygiene, you are not alone, I have never yet managed to get a dog to let me brush its teeth.

      • #12 by thecontentedcrafter on August 27, 2018 - 09:59

        I cook Siddy’s food I call it ‘Puppy Stew’ a combination of meat, carrots, potatoes. I also make him a treat from rolled oats and grated cheese which we can both chomp on 🙂 When he was new I tried him on raw meat but it was too rich for him and he often was throwing up. So I started cooking it and adding in the veges and it suits him better. He doesn’t have biscuits as a rule, except for his treat ball which he bashes around the kitchen maybe twice a week. I took my cat off packet foods when he was diagnosed with feline dementia, intending to get him onto a diet similar to Siddys. But, being a cat he would have none of it unless it was spoon fed to him and when his health improved enough I began to relax the stringent ( and fraught) programme we were following and now allow him a mix of the better ingrediented pre-prepared and home prepared. Re the teeth brushing, my vet can do it if he wants 🙂

      • #13 by tialys on August 27, 2018 - 11:30

        You are a domestic angel. The humans in my house are lucky if I cook them a meal every night (helps that my husband works away!!) so I doubt I’d get round to serving up home cooked goodies to all three dogs and five cats. However, I don’t give them supermarket brands – I order ‘posh’ stuff online which has good ingredients and that, together with the flea treatments, worm tablets, vaccinations and occasional little accident necessitating a trip to the vet, means we can’t pay off our mortgage yet 🐶🐺🐺😻😼😽😺😸

      • #14 by thecontentedcrafter on August 27, 2018 - 21:29

        I’m no domestic angel believe me – I spend maybe an hour a week mixing up the decoctions in the kitchen and waiting for them to cook. I live on salads even through most of winter and if I do decide to ‘make myself a meal’ I make something that can last for three days. I understand the mortgage thing – my life of teaching for peanuts and insisting on rescuing animals eventually meant giving up my mortgage all together and renting for eternity 🙂

  6. #15 by katechiconi on August 25, 2018 - 23:11

    You have revealed a whole world of pain I’m missing out on by not having the dog I pine for… I think the sadness of parting with an old friend is probably worth the joy of having had him for so long and enjoying his love and companionship, but it still hurts like stink, and I’m so sorry it’s probably on the cards for you… I wish vinegar would repel sandflies, but the vicious little buggers will power through even tropical strength Aerogard 😦 I did enjoy the vision of you zooming around the house spraying red wine vinegar. Did the place smell like salad dressing afterwards?

    • #16 by tialys on August 27, 2018 - 09:02

      It did a bit – lemon juice is apparently a good substitute which would probably smell nicer but might be a bit harsher on the animals’ skin. I do seem to be on top of the problem now but, just in case, I’ve ordered some diatomaceous earth which sounds like some sort of miracle substance that I will not only be able to dust around the terrace, house and pets themselves but is also quite good for them to take internally as a worming treatment. It also apparently does for caterpillars and we have those horrible processional ones that are very dangerous and also the ones that are eating all the box hedges at the moment. I don’t want to kill any ‘good’ insects though so I’ll have another read up about that aspect of it before I go too mad.

      • #17 by katechiconi on August 27, 2018 - 09:22

        You can use DE to de-louse chickens as well, either directly or dust it in their house. I found it quite effective and I liked the idea better than giving them chemicals in their water. I think it works by desiccating the bugs, but I’m not sure it differentiates between the good and bad bugs…

      • #18 by tialys on August 27, 2018 - 11:34

        Yes, I’m going to be a bit careful about using it outside. It works by slicing up the hard exoskeleton so that the powder can get in and dehydrate them. Sounds awful but I have no compunction about killing fleas or ticks – I just don’t want it to kill anything else.

  7. #19 by CurlsnSkirls on August 26, 2018 - 01:11

    So sorry to hear about your beloved pooch, but so glad you are making preparations and have a good vet along side. Too bad about the fleas, but jolly chuckles at that part of your tail… er, tale. xx

    • #20 by tialys on August 27, 2018 - 08:57

      I am being philosophical about the impending departure over the Rainbow Bridge (as that’s where dogs go when they die so I’m told) and trying to make whatever time he has left as comfortable as possible.

      • #21 by CurlsnSkirls on August 27, 2018 - 18:55

        Love this idea for our four-footed buddies.

      • #22 by tialys on August 27, 2018 - 20:33


  8. #23 by M. L. Kappa on August 26, 2018 - 17:17

    Oh no! I hate all those domestic disasters, as I call them. I have a very elegant spider in my bathroom, but I’m leaving her be, hoping she’ll eat the flies that are bugging us. I’m sorry about your darling dog, but you have to think he’s had a good life with you. Having always had animals, I’ve become somewhat reconciled to the fact that most have short lives relative to us, and it’s so worth it, having their company and unconditional love. Still hurts, tho.

    • #24 by tialys on August 27, 2018 - 08:54

      I actually like spiders – one of my daughters can’t bear them and I have resorted to upturned glass with a piece of card slid underneath to help release them back into ‘the wild’ many a time.

  9. #25 by anne54 on August 27, 2018 - 01:04

    Ah, the less glamorous side of living in southern France! I didn’t know, but shouldn’t have been surprised, that vinegar is a flea deterrent. As you say, it is such a useful product. I hope you didn’t find any fleas in the bedroom, and that they have all scarpered from your house and animals. I too am very sorry about Taz. He looks so happy in the photo, despite the teeth and other ailments, and he will go on having a wonderful life with you.

    • #26 by tialys on August 27, 2018 - 08:52

      I set 5 traps in 5 different rooms – left the (LED) candles burning all night and caught one flea – which made me feel a lot better.
      That is quite an old photo of Taz – his teeth aren’t so gleaming any more – but he still has that slightly mad expression in his eyes.

      • #27 by anne54 on August 29, 2018 - 00:45

        Phew! Now you can breath out, hoping that the little pests are well and truly gone.

  10. #28 by Kim on August 27, 2018 - 16:36

    It’s always sad when our animals get old. I am without any animals at present (The Management is happier about that than me) but well recall the massive cost of veterinary goods – and indeed the ‘posh’ animal feeds!
    Let us (your readers) know id Red Cross style parcels are required 😉

    • #29 by tialys on August 27, 2018 - 20:35

      It is certainly an expensive business – I wouldn’t mind but we only actually actively went in search of one dog and two cats, the others just sort of came along by accident.

      • #30 by Kim on August 28, 2018 - 09:49

        That seems to be how it goes 😀

  11. #31 by Hila on August 27, 2018 - 17:53

    So sorry to hear about Taz. I hope you enjoy what time he has left. x

  12. #33 by Susan on August 29, 2018 - 04:47

    Oh, you are so funny! You do realize red wine vinegar has no alcohol, I’m sure. Although, the thought of alcohol poisoning fleas doesn’t cause me any discomfort at all. =) I’m so sorry your dog is having problems. This is one reason I don’t have pets. When my last one died, it was so devastating, I can even think of subjecting myself to it again. My son has two therapy cats, but I keep my distance most of the time. Vets are expensive, but then, vet school is expensive. Your new one sounds like a gem!

    • #34 by tialys on August 29, 2018 - 09:30

      I could probably have used some of the cheaper red wine available here instead – definitely got alcohol in it but tastes more like vinegar than vinegar does. 😉
      It is devastating when you lose a pet but the rewards are great (usually!) so I try to be philosophical about it.

  13. #35 by Marge Urbany on August 31, 2018 - 00:25

    Oh dear, darling, handsome Taz. How quickly their lives seem to pass by as they live alongside us. Best wishes for a gentle final stage in your tender care.
    We had a terrible flea situation in 2013, with poor old Lemmy unable to fend them off. He had so many flea eggs in his black fur that if I picked him up it was like turning a salt shaker upside down. So I started bathing him, and the way he allowed this, so trustingly and stoically, is one of my fondest memories of him. He died the following year.
    I love coming here, seeing your posts and comments from your lovely community.

    • #36 by tialys on August 31, 2018 - 08:53

      You’ll be pleased to hear that, since his visit to the vet, his tooth infection seems to have gone (for the moment) and his brain does indeed seem slightly more oxygenated – he has been trotting around the garden in search of fallen figs and other, more unmentionable, stuff and, sometimes, he even finds some.
      The fleas have subsided slightly but I am still at war with them. The cats have received a dose of a new flea/tick/worming product this morning which, at the cool price of 10 euros each pipette, is no joke when you have 5 of them. The product I used on the dogs last week doesn’t seem to have fully worked but I have to wait another three weeks before I can re-dose them with anything. Never fear! My diatomaceous earth has arrived from Amazon so I’m going to do the ‘shake and vac’ with that on the floor, furniture and dogs themselves to see if that gets rid of the problem once and for all. I haven’t tried bathing them yet – with my three, it will be a last resort 😱
      I’m always pleased to see you here and to read your comments. xx

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