Do you want to know about your options for natural flea treatment for dogs? You’ve come to the right place. Spring is a prime season for annoying dog fleas, which cause itching and irritation in your best canine friend as a result of an allergic reaction. It’s been estimated that up to a third of a veterinarian’s workload can consist of treating flea allergy dermatitis.
More than that, fleas can carry tapeworm eggs that may infest dogs. A loss of blood from too many flea bites can cause anemia. These blood-sucking parasites can infest your home and bite people as well. Keeping flea infestation at bay is important, so we’ll look at types of all natural flea repellent for dogs, ways to kill fleas on dogs and options for natural flea control for dogs. Read on for all the information on removing fleas naturally.
Why Use Natural Flea Prevention for Dogs?
Traditional flea remedies, while often effective, are full of pesticides that are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
In 2009, the EPA investigated spot-on flea treatment products for pets as a result of reports of bad reactions in pets, and determined that changes had to be made to regulation, data-gathering and labeling. Some products were misused, but other issues were present. Since then, new rules have been made, but not everyone trusts the safety of traditional flea-killing products. They must be used safely exactly as directed, and the FDA asks users to be cautious and informed.
Users should also consult a veterinarian, and watch for symptoms of illness or poisoning. They should also avoid touching the areas on their dogs where pesticides have been placed.
It’s no wonder, then, that some pet parents are somewhat leery of regular flea treatment options. So, they look to all natural flea medicine for dogs that may be safer for adults, children and the pets they love.
Using Natural Remedies for Fleas on Dogs
First, remember to bathe and comb your pet regularly, using mild soap. If you find fleas on the comb, you can dip the comb in soapy water to get rid of them. If you do find fleas, you’ll have to decide on the best way to treat them. Please note that while we are listing some natural ingredients that have been tested as natural flea protection for dogs, they are not necessarily safer or more effective than traditional, tested, prescription-based therapies.
Before using medications of any kind on your dog, you first need to consult with a veterinarian. Your veterinarian can tell you about treatment protocols and help you understand the best ways of administering medications. Dosages and other information are best prescribed by a doctor.
We cannot recommend homeopathic preparations for natural flea control for dogs. Homeopathic medicine has been shown in objective studies not to work, and will be a waste of your time if you’re looking for natural ways to get rid of fleas on dogs.
Natural Flea Repellent for Dogs: Types
Some ingredients you may have heard can act as natural flea prevention or as a natural flea treatment for dogs. Here are a few of them, with some dosages that have been used by scientists in studies of the effectiveness of the ingredients. Some of these ingredients have been proven not effective for most dogs. Also, there are practical handicaps to usage—oils evaporate quickly while powders make the coat gritty. We list what we know of the current state of research on each treatment.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Vinegar doesn’t actually kill fleas, but it makes them want to leave. The smell and taste are off-putting to these tiny pests. Apple cider vinegar is best used as a preventative. Add it as a diluted solution to drinking water, baths or as a spray. Some vets recommend about a 0.5 to one teaspoon per quart of water for drinking, depending on your dog’s size.
Juniper oil is effective as a larvicidal and ovicidal agent, but do not let dogs ingest it. Put one to five drops into a spray bottle with water, and use on bedding and other items in the dog’s environment.
Lavender stems have been found to have insecticidal effects on ticks, beetles and other insects. These can be put in pets’ bedding, a flea collar or into a spray to repel fleas.
It’s the aerial parts of the lemon balm plant, or the parts exposed to air, that are highly toxic against moths and bacteria because of a compound called citronellal. Take two cups of packed lemon balm infused with one cup of boiling water and four cups of warm water, steeped for 30 minutes. Spray at first sign of fleas and repeat twice a week. Add glycerin and vinegar for a flea shampoo.
These trees may deter fleas in the dog’s environment. Alaskan yellow cedar essential oil has been shown to have lethal effects on flea adults. Thus, you can try using cedar shampoo or spray, cedar oil, and cedar-filled sleeping mats to repel fleas.
Diatomaceous earth (DE) is a natural product, made from the fossilized remains of prehistoric one-celled plants. Its texture is somewhat like talcum powder, but it is lethal to fleas because it absorbs or causes abrasion to a flea’s waterproof outer layer. Once that layer is gone, fleas die through desiccation (the loss of water). It doesn’t affect humans or pets, though.
>DE is best used around the house, including inside cracks and voids, to defend against fleas. It can also be rubbed into your dog’s fur. It’s even safe for use on food, but inhaled dust can cause lung issues.
Citrus peel has been shown effective as a natural flea killer for dogs that affects the larvae of insects like moths. Strain chopped, grated or whole lemon skins (or other citrus peels) in one cup of water and create a spritzer. You can use this spray on pets 24 hours afterward.
The addition of fresh garlic to food, in small doses not dangerous to dogs, has been shown to help the control of fleas and the treatment of skin issues in some dogs. Some studies recommend adding very small portions of garlic to your dog’s food. Others say you can feed your canine friend one or two cloves of garlic directly.
Some flowers of the Erigeron genus have been shown to have insecticidal properties within its roots. Research indicates that the plant may repel fleas in gardens. A fleabane essential oil is available for purchase, but it is not necessarily indicated as a flea repellent. It is more often applied to other medicinal uses derived from Erigeron plants.
Ultimately, we have not been able to locate research to confirm that fleabane is effective as a natural flea treatment for dogs.
Some sites will tell you that brewers’ yeast is a good way to get rid of fleas because fleas have an aversion to the thiamine in it. However, scientific tests have failed to prove its effectiveness on a majority of dogs. Thus, we cannot recommend brewer’s yeast as a natural flea repellent for dogs.
Choosing Natural Flea Control for Dogs
Fleas live out three of their four life stages on dogs. Thus, it is necessary for a flea control agent to do at least one of the following things:
- deter fleas from biting
- reduce egg production (fleas can lay an average of 27 eggs per day)
- kill flea larvae
- regulate or damage the development cycle of fleas
Additionally, any product for flea control must be well tolerated by your dog, and safety is a big consideration.
Flea control often comes in pills, lotions, powders and aerosol sprays, but pump sprays, foams and one-dose spot-on treatments may work best. You can buy them as a natural flea spray for dogs, natural flea shampoo for dogs or as a natural flea bath for dogs. Natural flea shampoos and baths for dogs help repel fleas, but also soothe and heal irritated skin. They spread natural flea killing agents through the coat. If you’re using a natural flea shampoo, pay attention to the base of the tail, under the legs and on the belly.
Best Natural Flea Treatment for Dogs
If you’re really looking for a natural way to kill fleas on dogs, some of the above information may help you sift through products designed for the purpose. We’ve looked at some of the research on the effectiveness of natural flea control methods, and some may work for you and your furry friends. But ultimately, your vet knows what’s best for you and your pet based on your needs and location. So we recommend a visit to your animal doctor for the best natural flea treatments for dogs.
Have you tried some of these natural ways to get rid of fleas on dogs? What has worked for you?
Resources and Further Reading:
Baker, N. F. and Farver, T. B., 1983, “Failure of Brewer’s Yeast as a Repellent to Fleas on Dogs,” Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 183
Carlotti, D. N. and Jacobs, D. E., 2001, “Therapy, Control and Prevention of Flea Allergy Dermatitis in Dogs and Cats,” Veterinary Dermatology, 11
Dryden, M. W. and Rust, M. K., 1994, “The Cat Flea: Biology, Ecology and Control,” Veterinary Parasitology, 52
Kumar, V. et al., 2014, “Chemical Composition and Antifungal Activity of Essential Oils from Three Himalayan Erigeron Species,” LWT – Food Science and Technology, 56
Lans, C. et al., 2008, “Medicinal Plant Treatments for Fleas and Ear Problems of Cats and Dogs in British Columbia, Canada,” Parasitolpgy Research, 103
Obudulu, C., 2011, “Natural Insect Pest Control – A Review,” International Journal of Tropica Medicine and Public Health, 1
Olson, L., Ph.D., “Canine Nutrition: Vitamins and Supplements and Description of Their Usage”
Quarles, W., 1992, “Diatomaceous Earth for Pest Control,” IPM Practitioner, 14
Srimahakhunnawong, P., 2015, “Using Garlic as a Dog-Flea Repellent for the Skin Disease Treatment,” RMUTSH Academic Journal, 3
U.S. Food & Drug Administration, 2017, “Safe Use of Flea and Tick Products in Pets,” Consumer Updates
Waddell, T. G. et al., 1983, “Erigerol, a New Labdane Diterpene from Erigeron Philadephicus,” Journal of Organic Chemistry, 48
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