30 Ways to Naturally Prevent and Get Rid of Fleas on Dogs
Fleas are the bane of any dog owner’s life. Not only will fleas irritate your dog and cause excessive scratching, once they get into your house, but they also lay their eggs in your furniture, carpet, and anywhere else they can access.
Most vets will tell you that treating fleas in dogs is a simple matter of giving your dog a commercially prepared spot-on flea treatment. Some of the more popular brand names are probably springing to mind right now. Your vet will also tell you that these must be kept out of reach of children at all times. In fact, children shouldn’t even pat the dog for a few days after treatment has been applied.
This implies that the ingredients used in these commercial treatments are dangerous to children. Why, then, would we willingly apply them directly to the delicate skin underneath our dogs’ coats?
What PETA has to say about the dangers of flea-control products:
Why Most Flea-Control Products Are Dangerous
The most popular kind of flea control product on the market is the “spot-on” variety, sold under brand names like Frontline® and Advantage™. The active ingredients in these solutions include chemicals such as imidacloprid, fipronil, permethrin, methoprene, and pyriproxyfen, all of which have caused serious health problems in animals in laboratories. Even some of the inert ingredients can be hazardous to your animal companion’s health. In 2009, the Environmental Protection Agency received complaints of “adverse reactions” ranging from skin irritation to seizures and death, and has since been “pursuing a series of actions to increase the safety of spot-on pesticide products for flea and tick control for cats and dogs” which has included calls for tighter regulations and more comprehensive labeling. – peta.org
As it turns out, the chemicals and pesticides found in commercially prepared flea remedies are labeled, “Keep out of reach of children” for a reason. Yes, they are generally very effective at killing fleas. But at what cost? Numerous scientific studies have shown time and again the serious and potentially deadly effects that poisonous commercial flea treatments can have on dogs. We won’t go into full details of these studies here, but they’re certainly eye-opening. If you’re interested, here are the NRDC’s findings, and a report from the EPA with a summary of their various studies and conclusions. Finally, here’s an update from the FDA earlier this year.
The good news is that there are plenty of ways to treat fleas on dogs naturally without resorting to pesticides and other chemicals. If you’re wondering how to get rid of fleas on dog hair, dog skin, from inside your home, and even out in the garden, read on to discover top 30 tips on treating fleas at home using all-natural ingredients.
Fleas on Your Dog
If your dog is scratching and you think it’s flea related, there’s plenty of flea home remedies for dogs to choose from. Whether you’re looking for a home-made collar, comb, dip, scrub, or something else, we’ve got plenty of ways to treat fleas on dogs without using any chemicals.
Washes, Sprays, Dips, and Rubs
Essential Oils Flea Spray
Some essential oils make for excellent flea remedies for dogs. Citronella, eucalyptus, peppermint, tea tree, and rosemary will all naturally repel fleas. If your dog doesn’t mind a spray bottle, dilute a few drops of your chosen essential oil in water and spray directly onto your dog’s coat.
Apple Cider Vinegar and Salt Flea Spray
The beauty of apple cider vinegar is that it is a way to treat fleas on dogs naturally by balancing a dog’s pH levels, creating an environment that is optimal for your dog’s health yet unsustainable for fleas. Dilute six cups of apple cider vinegar with four cups of water, add a dash of sea salt, then spray directly onto your dog’s coat. Make sure to avoid your dog’s eyes.
This lemon bath is simple to make and will keep your pet smelling fresh and noticeably flea free. Simply dilute half a cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice into two cups of water, then add a squeeze of your normal pet-friendly soap or shampoo for a natural way of treating fleas in dogs.
Any pet-friendly shampoo that produces a lather will naturally kill existing fleas. When choosing flea remedies natural is always the best choice, so select an organic pet shampoo without any added chemicals. Once your dog is sufficiently lathered, leave the shampoo on for just a couple of minutes while it does its work. This is a great way of killing existing fleas before moving on to flea prevention remedies.
If your dog enjoys playing in water, this Rosemary dip will seem like a fun game rather than a flea remedy. Steep fresh rosemary leaves in boiling water, then strain the mixture and dilute it well in warm water. When the water reaches a comfortable temperature, pour the mixture over your dog and let it dry naturally.
Multi-Purpose Neem Oil
Neem oil is a natural insect repellent and one of the lesser-known flea treatments. If you are able to obtain this oil, native to Burma, Sri Lanka, and parts of India, you can apply it directly to your dog’s coat, add it to your normal natural dog shampoo, or dilute it well to make your own flea spray.
By swapping out your usual dog shampoo for organic soaps such as organic peppermint soap or organic Rose soap, you can wash your dog as normal and get a flea-free and great smelling dog at the end of it.
If you’re familiar with aromatherapy, you can make up a batch of aromatherapy that will not only treat a flea infestation but also prevent future occurrences, whilst acting as a natural soother for your dog. Try sweet almond oil as the base oil, and add drops of Atlas cedar oil, lemon eucalyptus oil, geranium oil, bay laurel oil, common myrrh oil, and lavender oil.
Coconut Oil Rub
Is there anything that coconut oil can’t do? Coconut oil can help in a number of ways when treating fleas. Rubbing a teaspoon of coconut oil directly into your dog’s coat will not only repel fleas but will make the coat shiny and reduce body odor. If added to your dog’s normal food, coconut oil can even help treat intestinal parasites due to its antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties.
Lavender or Cedar Oil Flea Collar
A home-made flea collar is an ingenious way of keeping your dog’s flea protection constant without having to spray or rub them with the mixture. Either purchase or make a simple collar or bandanna, then dilute a few drops of lavender oil or cedar oil in water and apply it directly to the collar or bandanna.
Vodka Flea Collar
Who knew that vodka was an effective way of treating fleas in dogs? Buy or make a simple dog collar, then soak it in a teaspoon of unflavoured vodka and let dry. You could also add a few drops of your essential oil of choice to make a scented collar, otherwise just using the vodka alone is a good alternative for dogs who don’t like the scent of essential oils.
Combs and Sachets
Lemon is widely recognized for its abilities to both repel and kill fleas while being completely harmless to dogs and humans. Simply dip your dog’s regular comb or brush into fresh lemon juice and apply it to their hair as normal. For a short-haired breed, a cloth dipped in lemon juice will give the same benefit.
If you already have a store-bought flea comb, this is one way of treating fleas that we would recommend, and it doesn’t require any additional purchases. Flea combs don’t contain any chemicals but are specially designed to remove fleas and their eggs from your dog’s coat. If your dog is already infested with fleas, this is a great way of removing existing fleas before using other flea home remedies for dogs to keep future infestations away.
If your dog doesn’t like being sprayed or having products applied directly to their coat, this flea sashay is easy to make and will provide the same benefits. Buy or make a small bag of breathable fabric such as hessian or muslin, then fill the bag with lemon peel, dried lavender buds, and cedar chips. Tie up the top of the bag and place it near your dog’s sleeping area. The mixture may lose its potency after about a month, at which time you can simply reopen the bag and replace with fresh ingredients.
Food and Drink
Vinegar or Apple Cider Vinegar Drink
To combat and prevent fleas from the inside out, try dilating vinegar or apple cider vinegar in your dog’s drinking water. You’ll need to test them first to make sure they enjoy the taste as you don’t want to put them off drinking their water altogether. One teaspoon of your vinegar of choice for every four cups of drinking water is a good ratio to aim for. Not only will you keep fleas at bay, but your dog’s coat and skin will also see the benefits to.
Perhaps the least obvious way to treat fleas on dogs naturally is to start from the inside out. It remains true that healthy dogs are less likely to host fleas, and one way of improving the health of your dog while warding off fleas is to add a small amount of brewer’s yeast to your dog’s food. Just a half teaspoon of brewer’s yeast mixed in with your dog’s normal meal makes for an effective flea remedy.
Fleas in the House
When there are fleas on your dog and you let your dog inside, what do you have? Fleas in the house, of course. If you’re wondering how to get rid of fleas on dog bedding and other items your dog has access to in your house, read on for plenty of ways of eliminating fleas at home.
When you’ve got fleas in the house, the first step is to gather up all soft furnishings your dog spends any time on, including blankets, towels, beds, pillows, and mats, and put everything through the washing machine. It’s a big task, but it’s an essential one to combat your existing flea problem.
Washing your soft furnishings is important, but putting everything in the tumble dryer will be even more effective. Just 15 minutes in a hot tumble dryer will kill fleas in all stages of growth, including eggs, larvae, and adult fleas.
Your vacuum cleaner is going to be your biggest ally when it comes to treating fleas at home. A water-based vacuum cleaning system is ideal, as the fleas are drowned as soon as they are picked up by the vacuum cleaner. For dry vacuum cleaners, remember that the fleas you collected will try to escape as soon as you open up the canister or bag, so do this immediately and outside your home. Ideally, spray your vacuum cleaner canister with water as soon as you open it to prevent fleas from escaping.
By sprinkling baking soda directly onto your carpet and then penetrating and disturbing the carpet fibers by sweeping side to side with a broom, you’ll dehydrate fleas and their eggs. Leave the baking soda on your carpet overnight, then you can simply vacuum up the baking soda and the fleas in the morning.
Just like the baking soda method above, sprinkling salt on your carpet and soft furnishings before vacuuming the next day will dehydrate and kill fleas and flea eggs. An excellent flea treatment, salt still needs to be used with caution as it can cause your vacuum cleaner to rust if not properly cleaned out after you’ve finished vacuuming.
Lemon spray is a brilliant way of treating fleas that doesn’t require vacuuming afterward. Boil a thinly sliced lemon in water and then let the mixture cool down overnight. In the morning, fill a spray bottle with the mixture and lightly dampen your carpet and all soft furnishings in your home.
Steam cleaning your carpets and soft furnishings drowns fleas on impact and will also keep your home looking and smelling great.
Diatomaceous earth is a fine powder created – strangely enough – from the microscopic remains of algae. We’ll admit it sounds strange, but an incredibly effective way to treat fleas naturally is to sprinkle diatomaceous earth on your carpet and let it sit there for 48 hours. Ideally, block off the area so no one – especially your dog – can walk over it during this time. Afterward, vacuum the carpet thoroughly. Diatomaceous earth is an effective way of drying out and killing flea eggs, to prevent another round of infestation.
If you’re wondering how to get rid of fleas inside your home, this flea trap is an ingenious idea that doesn’t involve spraying anything on your soft furnishings. Simply fill a plate or bowl with warm water and add a few drops of your usual dish soap, then leave it on the floor overnight. The high viscosity of the mixture acts as a glue, trapping fleas onto the surface. In the morning, simply empty out the mixture and wash your plate or bowl well.
If you have a pestle and mortar handy, you can mix up a batch of Rosemary powder to prevent a future flea infestation. Add your choice of other ingredients including peppermint, wormwood, fennel, and rue to make a fine powder to sprinkle throughout your home.
Fleas in the Backyard
Just because you can’t see them doesn’t mean they’re not there. If your dog has a case of the fleas, there is a very good chance they’re lurking in the darkest, moistest areas of your backyard too. When it comes to outdoor flea remedies natural methods are always the best, and here are our top tips for treating fleas in the backyard.
Keep your Garden Bare
Fleas love to hide, so the barer your garden is, the less likely it will be they’ll choose your garden to hide in. Trim or remove overgrown bushes and hedges, and keep your garden weed free.
Beware of the Damp
Fleas thrive in damp, dark places, and they’ll avoid sunlight as much as possible. Examine your garden through the eyes of a flea and ask yourself where they’d be most likely to hide. With this in mind, remove twigs, dead leaves, and excess mulch from under bushes. Allow the sunlight to access your backyard as much as possible and avoid overwatering.
The Good Kind of Worms
No one likes the idea of worms running rampant in their garden unless we’re talking about a certain type of nematodes – Steinerma Carpocapsea to be exact. These tiny worms eat fleas while being completely safe for your dog and your garden.
Flea Repelling Plants
An excellent way to treat fleas naturally is to plant certain plants that naturally repel fleas. Spearmint, chrysanthemums, lavender, and Penny Royal are natural flea repellents for your garden, and there are plenty of others. You may need to do some research to discover which plants will grow well in your area before heading to your local plant nursery.
A Note on Essential Oils
You may have noticed a large number of essential oils mentioned in the various flea home remedies for dogs in this article. When it comes to flea remedies natural essential oils can be incredibly effective, and there are a number of different scents you can use. The choice will ultimately come down to the essential oils available to you, and your personal preferences.
Since dogs have such sensitive noses, we recommend first testing a very small amount of an essential oil near your dog to see how they react. Just like humans, dogs will have some scents that they enjoy more than others and some that they find almost repulsive. In your quest to treat fleas naturally, you should also keep in mind your dog’s preferences and avoid spraying all over their bedding with an essential oil they can’t stand.
Just imagine having to sleep every night with your head on a pillow scented with your least favorite scent, and you’ll understand the importance of letting your dog have a say in the scents and ingredients you choose.
If you’ve ever wondered how to get rid of fleas on dog bedding in your home, in your garden, and even from your beloved dog, the above home remedies have got you covered. Not only can these natural flea remedies be just as effective as commercial alternatives, but you will also be doing yourself, your dog, and the environment a big favor by avoiding commercial products and choosing all-natural ingredients instead.
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