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Fleas: the dreaded invaders. Most pet parents fear an itchy pup and the hop-hop-hop of tiny critters, and understand that flea prevention is vital. But with rising concern about the use of chemicals and insecticides around the home, some dog owners are inclined to seek earth-friendly flea solutions.
So, what are your natural flea care choices? We’ve got the lowdown. For starters, prevention is key: regular cleaning, laundering, and grooming will go a long way. From there, you’ve got options.
A quick note about the word ‘natural’: it’s a vague term that’s used to entice consumers, so read labels carefully and do your homework about ingredients no matter the marketing.
Environmentally-friendly flea control outside
The best way to deal with fleas is to avoid getting them in the first place. Luckily, there are environmentally friendly ways to reduce the risk of fleas, and they start outside.
1. Mowing the lawn
It keeps flea hiding spots to a minimum.
Spray your yard with these worm-like creatures to control garden pests and eat fleas.
This non-toxic powder composed of fossilized organisms breaks and dries flea eggs. Spread it in areas of the yard where your dog plays or rests.
4. Flea-repelling plants
Lemon balm, sage, rosemary, catnip, lemongrass, basil, and mint all repel fleas, according to Rita Hogan, a canine herbalist and co-founder of Farm Dog Naturals.
Eco-friendly flea products that are safe to use on your dog
A great way to check for fleas on your pet. If you find the small black critters, a glass of water or rubbing alcohol to dip the comb in will drown them.
A full bath will force the fleas to flee your dog and hopefully drown in the bathwater.
Sprays with organic ingredients can be applied directly to your dog, as well as to beds, carpets, and other areas your dog lingers.
Natural flea repellants in the kitchen cupboard
An apple cider vinegar and water dilution can be an effective rinse to keep fleas away, according to Hogan. Juice from a freshly squeezed lemon or orange can be also rubbed into your dog’s fur to repel fleas.
Garlic or brewer’s yeast are often suggested. Do your research about safe amounts. Dr. James Talbott, veterinarian at Belle Forest Animal Hospital and Kennel in Nashville, Tennessee, offers tips about safely using home flea remedies like the above.
Essential oils are another common ingredient in natural flea care, though not in an undiluted form. Dr. Tina Wismer writes for VetStreet about safety issues around essential oils and pets.
“Many natural flea shampoos may contain essential oils, but because of the dilution of these oils with other ingredients, they are generally safe to use according to label directions. Remember, always follow the directions and … never apply 100 percent essential oils … on your pet, especially on broken skin.” – Dr. Wismer
Flea elimination beyond natural remedies
Natural flea prevention tactics can help keep the bugs away, but if you’re dealing with a serious case that home remedies cannot control, talk to your veterinarian about the use of treatments that contain synthetic chemicals.
The Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency regulate flea products and conduct reviews of a product’s safety for the animal, people in contact with the animal, and the environment. These two agencies must approve flea products before they can be sold or marketed.
With preventative and regular use, plants and additional natural products can keep your dog flea and itch-free.