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Last week I was having lunch with a couple of friends, Mandi and Lisa.
Of course, the topic of dogs came up, specifically regarding an article I wrote about flea treatments.
Mandi and Lisa both prefer using natural home remedies whenever possible, so they were asking about natural flea treatments.
Unfortunately, Lisa had her dog at the dog park and, though she uses a preventative, was concerned about fleas. (Apparently, there was a recent flea issue with some of the dogs that play at the park.)
Though preventatives work great, dogs can still carry fleas into the house before the preventative has a chance to kick in.
Thankfully, Bolt hasn’t shown any signs of fleas. However, Lisa was curious about what she could do to proactively to prevent fleas from taking up residence in her home.
I said that I used a combination of natural and traditional flea preventatives.
I use both oral and topical flea preventatives on our dogs, though not on the same dog.
Also, I use natural preventatives in and outside of our home.
I’ve broken up the home remedies below into two categories: The first category is for treatments that kill fleas and the second category is solutions for preventing insects.
Though I have researched many of these remedies, I have not tried them all.
As I repeatedly state, and I’m sure you’re sick of reading, always check things out with your vet first.
Even natural home remedies can interact poorly with certain medications or health issues.
Home Remedies to Kill Fleas
Salt kills adult fleas by penetrating a flea’s exoskeleton and dehydrating the flea to death.
Salt will work on adult fleas as well as their eggs and larvae
How to Use
Sprinkle salt on the carpet; fine salt works best.
Next, let the salt sit for 12-48 hours.
Finally, vacuum the salted area and dump the vacuumed contents directly into an outdoor garbage.
Do not allow children or pets to walk on the salted carpet.
Also, be sure to salt and vacuum near the baseboards where fleas particularly like to live.
Baking soda works similar to salt.
It kills fleas at all life stages through dehydration.
How to Use
Sprinkle baking soda on carpet, then using a brush gently work the baking powder down into the carpet.
Because baking powder is naturally fine-grained, it will sit on top of the carpet fibers if not properly worked into the fibers.
Let the baking soda sit for 12-48 hours.
Finally, vacuum the area that has baking soda on it and dump the vacuumed contents directly into an outdoor garbage.
Do not allow children or pets to walk on the baking soda area of the carpet.
Additionally, be sure to use the baking soda near the baseboards where fleas are often found.
Finally, salt and baking soda can be used together:
First, apply the baking soda and work that in. Next, sprinkle the salt, creating a layered effect.
Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous earth is a powder-like substance that was initially fossilized algae, or diatoms.
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Diatomaceous earth has teeny tiny sharp-edged flakes that cut the exoskeleton of the fleas.
In addition to its cutting abilities, diatomaceous earth also dries the fleas out.
How to Use
Just like salt and baking soda, sprinkle diatomaceous earth on the affected areas.
Allow it to sit overnight.
Next, vacuum the area where you used the diatomaceous earth.
Using human grade diatomaceous earth is an absolute must; using a lower grade powder can be hazardous to you and your pets.
Also, just like with the salt, it is best to leave the area undisturbed after applying the diatomaceous earth to the carpet.
- Harris Diatomaceous Earth Food Grade – I like this one since it includes a container for dusting.
Steam vacuuming accomplishes two things.
First, it kills the fleas, larvae, and eggs; then it cleans up the mess.
Because steam is hotter than 100 F, it is hot enough to kill the fleas.
How to Use
Steam vacuum all flooring surfaces, couches and chairs, and dog beds.
Empty the vacuum outside when done.
Be sure to pay extra attention to the baseboard areas and other crevices.
Steam vacuuming is also an excellent maintenance method to prevent future flea outbreaks
- Hoover Power Scrub Carpet Cleaner Machine – I like this one because of the attachments that are good for furniture and crevices.
Dish Soap Flea Trap with Battery Operated Tea Light
Dish soap flea traps are simple, easy, and non-toxic.
The fleas are drawn to the light, and when they move towards it, they land in the soapy water.
The soap in the water traps them, and ultimately the flea ends up drowning.
How to Use
Use a wide mouth shallow bowl; a pie tin works great.
Put water and dish soap in the pie tin.
Next, place a small ramekin upside down in the middle of the plate. The smaller, the better.
Finally, turn on the battery-operated tea tree light and place it on top of the ramekin. Be sure it is not touching the water.
Soap traps are best used in the evening.
Also, keep in mind the area of effect is limited to the area you set it up in, so it is best to set up multiple soap stations.
Dawn dish soap is said to work best.
Also, it is vital to note that this will only kill adult fleas and will not kill larvae or eggs.
Washing bed linens and your pet’s linens is an excellent and safe way to kill fleas.
The water will drown the fleas, and if anything survived the wash, the dryer set to high heat would destroy what’s left.
How to Use
Wash all bed linens, especially and dog bed covers.
If you have any furniture covers or seat covers in your car that your pooch uses, toss those into the laundry too.
Be sure to use hot water and the high heat setting for the dryer.
Like steam vacuuming, this is an excellent way to prevent future flea infestations.
Apple Cider Vinegar
I have read on numerous websites that apple cider vinegar (ACV) can be used in a spray form to kill fleas.
Also, ACV, when diluted and given orally to your dog, can act as a flea preventative.
But, is this true?
Dr. Hanie Elfenbein states that an ACV spray will not kill fleas at any stage nor will the consumption of ACV by your dog prevent fleas.
Instead of ACV being helpful to your dog, it can cause harm.
ACV can cause skin irritation, break down tooth enamel, and can cause damage to your dog’s throat and stomach when ingested.
Dr. Cailin Heinze said that small amounts well diluted ACV would likely not cause harm to healthy dogs.
However, large quantities and ACV that is not diluted has the potential to cause significant health issues.
Dr. Heinze further states that there is no scientific data that shows there are any health benefits to dogs when given ACV.
Simply bathing your dog is enough to get the fleas off and drown them.
It is like a giant soap bowl method!
Regular dog shampoo will work, so there is no need to use a special flea shampoo.
Also, as a bonus, your pup will smell great!
How to Use
Bathe your dog as usual, but let the soap stay on a few minutes longer than usual.
Also, giving your pooch a good, but gentle, scrub will help loosen flea eggs and larvae.
After the bath, you can use a flea comb to help remove and stubborn fleas and flea droppings.
Plus, this is another method you can use to help prevent fleas from taking up residence on your dog.
- Safari Dog Flea Comb – what I like about this comb is the double row of narrow teeth.
Home Remedies to Prevent Fleas
Fleas can enter your home by taking a free ride on your clothes or in your dog’s fur.
After they get into your home, they can drop off anywhere and start to take up residence.
Vacuuming will aid in keeping them from being able to take root your home.
How to Use
Vacuum weekly, if not more frequently.
Remember to vacuum dog beds and furniture!
Empty the contents of the vacuum directly outside.
Fleas can die when vacuumed up, but those that survived the ride will crawl out of the trash.
So, if you empty your trash outside you don’t have to worry about them coming back into your home.
Essential oils mixed up in a spray bottle can be sprayed on your dog and/or on furniture and carpet as a flea deterrent.
Essential oils that are suitable for preventing fleas are pennyroyal, cedarwood, lemon, lemongrass, lavender, rosemary, clove, basil, and thyme.
Mix 6-7 drops, of any of the above oils into a spray bottle with water.
This spray can be used on beds and furniture.
A combination of the oils listed above would also work.
You can dilute cedarwood, lavender, basil, or thyme to use directly on your dog.
The different oils require different application methods. Check out our article “Using Essential Oils to Kill Fleas” for the proper application techniques.
When mixing essential oils, it is best to use dark glass containers to ensure the integrity of the mixture is kept intact over time.
If you have cats, be sure to check if the oils you are using are safe for use around them.
Not all oils are safe to use near or on cats.
It is critical to use caution when working with essential oils since some oils are toxic to dogs and cats when consumed or inhaled.
Also, some oils may cause skin irritations, so it is vital you use oils as directed to avoid health issues for your dog.
If you are ever in doubt, contact your vet before using the oil in question.
Starting with outdoor prevention is key to ensuring a flea-free environment.
Using certain outdoor plants is a great and safe way to discourage fleas from residing in your yard.
How to Use
There are several plants, many of them decorative flowers, that can be planted in gardens or pots in and around the yard to help keep fleas away.
Some excellent dog-safe plant choices are:
There are other plants available that help keep fleas away, just be sure you are using pet-safe plants.
The ASPCA has a comprehensive list of poisonous plants you can cross-check before planting.
Sulfur kills fleas on contact but shouldn’t be used where your pet roams.
How to Use
Sprinkle sulfur outdoors on bushes, grass, woodpiles, and anywhere else fleas are attracted to, such as damp, dark areas.
Only use sulfur in areas dogs, and cats cannot access.
We have a fenced-in backyard, so we only use this in the front yard.
Sulfur is poisonous to dogs and cats when consumed!
Keeping to a strict cleaning routine is the best flea preventative.
How to Use
Steam vacuuming, laundering all dog linens and bed linens, and using essential oil flea sprays is the best way to prevent fleas from taking up residence in your home.
You don’t need to steam vacuum weekly, but making it a monthly habit will help tremendously.
Though I love natural home remedies, safety has to come first.
It’s hard to know which is worse between using artificial chemicals or natural treatments that have the potential to cause harm.
As dog parents, we turn to natural solutions with the hope of providing safer care for our cherished canines.
However, there are times these remedies can be more potentially harmful than traditional medicines.
Not all-natural home remedies are bad, and not all traditional medicines are good.
But it is imperative as dog parents we take the time to research these natural remedies to guarantee we are giving the safest and best care possible.
Still Have Questions?
Ask a Vet!