Fleas can be a big problem for your dog, but getting rid of them doesn’t have to be. This checklist of natural solutions can help keep these blood-sucking pets at bay.
Flea season is upon us, and the goal is to get your dog through the season infestation-free. Along with a quality diet and lifestyle, which should form the foundation of any flea-fighting strategy, the eight suggestions in this article will help repel fleas and keep your dog healthy, happy and comfortable.
1. Rinse him with rosemary
A rosemary rinse will repel fleas from your dog – it’s easy to use and works like a charm. Boil a couple of liters of rosemary tea — you can buy rosemary tea or make it yourself from fresh or dried rosemary leaves. Let the tea cool to room temperature, drain out the leaves, and use it as a final rinse when bathing your dog. You can also pour some of the tea into a spray bottle and give your dog a spritz once a day.
Many herbs also act as natural flea repellents, including mint, rosemary, lavender and catnip.
2. Make a protective bandana
Trying a bandana sprayed with lavender oil on your dog will help keep fleas away from him.
- Mix 5 drops of lavender essential oil with 3 tbsp water – make sure the oil is pure and of high quality.
- Apply 5 to 10 drops of the mixture to a stylish bandana and rub the sides to spread it evenly.
- Tie the bandana around your dog’s neck; ensure it’s neither too tight nor too loose.
You can re-apply this solution to the bandana once a week to maintain its protective powers. Just don’t let your dog outside unsupervised when he’s wearing it – he could get it caught on something and injure himself.
3. Cook up a holistic flea dip
Veterinarian Dr. Carol Osborne suggests the following two recipes:
- Cut an entire lemon into thin slices, boil in one pint of water, and steep overnight for eight hours. Cool and use as a dip or daily spritz.
- Mix 2 cups of fresh rosemary or 2 cups of fresh peppermint with 5 quarts of warm water; steep for 30 minutes, let cool, and use as a dip.
3. Feed him brewer’s yeast
Brewer’s yeast is a long-standing remedy that can be quite effective at deterring fleas. If your dog doesn’t like the taste, try mixing it with coconut oil or other healthy oil. It makes the dog’s blood smell and taste like brewer’s yeast to the fleas, thereby discouraging them from biting.
4. Remove fleas from your home
Make time to regularly and thoroughly vacuum rugs, carpets and upholstered furniture, as well as other flooring surfaces. Be sure to get into the corners and along the baseboards. Though labor-intensive, vacuuming is a very useful way to keep your home free of fleas. Food grade diatomaceous Earth is another good way to get rid of fleas in the home. It kills flea larvae and adults by cutting through their exoskeletons and drying them out.
5. Introduce your yard to nematodes
Outside, meanwhile, try treating the yard with nematodes — these microscopic worms are harmless to people and pets, but will kill fleas. Bear in mind that different nematode products may require different modes of application. Some are gels that contain nematodes, while others need to be dissolved in water and sprayed around the yard. Be sure to read instructions carefully.
Pour some rosemary tea into a spray bottle and give your dog a spritz once a day.
6. Plant flea-repelling flowers and herbs
Add flea-repelling plants and herbs to your gardens or landscaping. Flowers such as chrysanthemums, marigolds and geraniums can help deter fleas. Many herbs also act as natural flea repellents, including mint, rosemary, lavender and catnip. These can all be grown in pots as well as in garden beds, although mint is very invasive if not contained. Locate the plants or pots near areas in the yard that your dog likes to frequent.
7. Check your home for other flea-bearing critters
Your dog might not be the only animal introducing fleas to your home. Mice, squirrels and bats can also bring these pests inside if they get into your attic or garage. It’s a good idea to check your home for signs of these intruders, and call a humane wildlife removal service to get rid of them.
Keeping fleas away from your dog doesn’t need to involve chemical spot-ons, sprays or commercial flea collars. Using a combination of natural solutions, such as those outlined in this article, can be just as effective if started early in the spring, and kept up throughout the summer and fall. Yes, it requires commitment, but it’s a lot healthier for your dog!
- Groom your dog as often as possible, if not every day. Use a flea comb to remove fleas, and brush away excess hair. If you wish, soak the brush in water infused with sliced lemons as well as peppermint and lemongrass leaves – both these herbs are easy to grow. If you opt to use essential oils instead, again make absolutely sure you’re using a high quality product.
- Wash your dog’s bedding regularly. If his bed isn’t the type that can be put in the washing machine, consider covering it with a removable, machine-washable fabric, or buy a new bed that comes with such a cover, and launder regularly.
- Fleas (and ticks!) are attracted to high grass, which makes for great hiding places, so keep the lawn cut.