I share my life with many four-legged friends, owning 2 dogs and fostering at least 2 others at any given time. My canine companions make up a huge part of my life so, naturally, I want to care for them…naturally. Like human medications popular dog medications, such as flea and tick preventatives, are full of strange chemicals that could have potentially harmful side effects. If you have little ones running around the house, you don’t want them getting into the medication or touching the dog after it’s applied. Since I foster and have rescues coming in from all kinds of places, I have to be up on the flea care year round. Instead of constantly applying synthetic repellents, there are natural substitutes I can turn to that can help keep the little beasties at bay.
Why the ingredients: The essential oils/ingredients used here are all natural insecticide/pesticides, shown to either kill or deter the pests due to their various compounds/naturally occurring chemicals. Indeed, many of them are found in commercial flea/tick preventative.
1. Flea collar
A flea collar is a great way to ward off fleas without always having to reapply something topically, and it keeps the flea control constant and steady.
You will need…
-3-5 drops of cedar oil or lavender oil
- 1-3 tablespoons of water
-Bandana OR your dog’s collar
-an eyedropper (optional)
Dilute 2-3 drops of your chosen oil in 1-3 tablespoons of water. Some people use the oil undiluted, but I personally feel it should always be diluted, even if it’s only by a little. Next, pick out a bandana to be the flea collar-I think a bandana is preferable because you can take it on and off and your dog’s collar won’t smell. It’s always fun to get creative with patterns and colors here. If you go up to ½ teaspoon you can use up to 5 drops of the liquid. Using an eyedropper or other similar means, apply 5-10 drops of the mixture to the bandana and rub the sides of the fabric together, and then tie it about your dog’s neck in a snazzy way. Reapply oil mixture to the collar once a week. In conjunction with this, 1 or 2 drops of oil diluted with at least 1 tablespoon of olive oil can be placed at the base of your dog’s tail.
2. Flea deterring drink- can be used alongside any of these remedies.
You will need…
-1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar or apple cider vinegar
For every 40 pound dog add 1 teaspoon of white distilled vinegar or apple cider vinegar to 1 quart of their drinking water. We highly recommend using Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar. Not only does it deter fleas, it improves a pups skin and coat condition from the inside-out.
3. Flea comb
This contains lemon and lemon contains something called limonene, which is a chemical that kills and repels fleas but is harmless to us or our pets.
You will need…
-1 freshly sliced up lemon
-1 pot of fresh water
-a comb, sponge, or brush
Boil a pot of water and add the slices of a freshly cut lemon to it. Turn off the heat after the lemons has been added and cover the pot, letting the mixture steep overnight. The next day dip a comb or your pets brush in the liquid (make sure it’s sufficiently cool) and run it through their hair. A sponge works as well, especially if you have a very short haired breed. A quick version is to bring water to a vigorous boil and then pour over a freshly sliced lemon. Then just dip the comb, let it cool, and use as above.
4. Flea spray
As a bonus, your pup will get a nice gleaming finish to their coat after using this flea spray.
You will need…
-1 cup white distilled vinegar OR 1 cup apple cider vinegar OR a 50/50 blend of both
-1 quart fresh water
-2-3 drops of lavender or cedar oil
-a decent sized spray bottle
The essential oil isn’t vital, but it certainly gives the spray an extra edge (and a nice smell.) If you’re using it, add 2-3 drops as you add 1 cup of white distilled vinegar/apple cider vinegar/both to 1 quart of fresh water. Fill your spray bottle, and mist your dog, being careful not to get it in their eyes, nose, or ears-aka avoid spraying near the face. To get up around the neck and behind the ears/their chin area, dampen a soft cloth with the mixture and wipe it on. Spray your pets bedding and around it with this mixture lightly as well.
5. Flea (be-gone) bag
This little sachet contains things that smell pleasant to us, but that drive pests away from your pet.
You will need…
-Two 6 inch squares of breathable fabric (such as muslin)
-a rough handful of cedar chips
-1-2 teaspoons of dried lavender buds
-the peel of 1 lemon
Follow the instructions on how to make a sachet here if you need more detail. Cut 2 6 inch squares of fabric and place them together inside out. Sew all but 1 side and turn inside out. Fill with a rough handful of fragrant cedar chips, 1-2 teaspoons of lavender, and 1 lemon peel. Leave enough room at the top so you can tie it off with a ribbon or sew it shut (tying allows you to reuse it when the contents lose their potency.) Place under your pets bed/bedding or near it to ward off fleas. Change the mixture every month or so.
6. Flea bath- wash your pup with this weekly to deter fleas.
You will need…
-A half a cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice*
-1 ½ – 2 cups of fresh water
-1/4 –1/2 cup of mild pet-friendly soap or shampoo
Stir together a half a cup of lemon juice, 1 ½ cups of water, and ¼ cup of mild pet-friendly shampoo or soap. Bottle and label and bathe weekly to keep fleas away.
*amounts will vary depending on the size of your dog. As a general rule of thumb, use 2 parts water to every ½ cup of soap and lemon juice.
NOTE: You must always dilute essential oil before using them. Pay attention to and read and respect your dog’s body language. It may sound odd, but let them sniff the different scents and see how they react. Whichever one you think they “like” the most, or will tolerate should be the one you use. It is estimated that dogs can identify scents 1,000-10,000 times better than humans. Imagine something you hate the smell of, and then imagine it being rubbed all over your body and smelling it 1,000 times stronger!
I cannot begin to say how engrained into my life dogs are. Their wellbeing is of the utmost importance to me, and if I can avoid strange chemicals, I will do so in the same way I avoid them myself. Dogs are natural beings, just as we are, and should rightly be treated as such.
Cat owner? Take a look at our flea remedies for cats.
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What kind of dog do you have, and how do you treat it for fleas? Feel free to talk about your dog in great length…we’re very dog-friendly!
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By Claire GoodallClaire is a lover of life, the natural world, and wild blueberries. On the weekend you can find her fiddling in the garden, playing with her dogs, and enjoying the great outdoors with her horse. Claire is very open-minded, ask her anything :) Meet Claire→
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