When your dog has fleas it can be so annoying and worrying. You have probably spent good money on trying to stop your dog from getting fleas. Am I right?
Dogs having fleas is just one of those annoying problems that rear its head every now and again or all of the time, However, if you are a new or seasoned dog owner you will know that dog fleas are not the only problem your dog may start up for no apparent reason.
Other problems can be:
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I am a dog owner. I’ve been a dog owner for decades, and if there’s one thing I hate most of all, it’s my dogs having fleas. Of course, people who don’t own dogs think that fleas are not that big of a deal, that it’s so common for dogs to have fleas that it’s not even that dangerous. But a flea bite can cause more than just irritation. A flea bite can, in fact, cause a lot of different diseases, which I will cover in this article. So whenever my dogs get fleas, I have to treat them. But I don’t use chemicals all that much. Instead, I always use natural flea treatment for dogs. I would even go so far as to recommend natural flea treatment even to cat owners.
Why Choose Natural Flea Treatment for Dogs? Why Not Medication or Topical Solutions?
Personally, I’d love to just use a topical cream on my dogs and hope that the fleas won’t bite. And for many people, that works, as do powders, sprays, and specialized collars. But the problem with these products is pretty much the same as with medication for humans.
In other words, many of these products turn out to be dangerous and even harmful to our canine friends. According to PETA, back in 2008, the EPA got over 44.000 different complaints about these products. Their pets (I’m talking dogs, cats, horses, and really any mammal) suffered from dangerous side-effects such as skin irritation, severe seizures, and even outright death. Most of these products contain chemicals that actively harm animals. Some of those are fipronil, methoprene, imidacloprid, pyriproxyfen, and permethrin, though there are more, of course.
The EPA has since been trying its best to maintain a high quality of pesticide products, focusing on the safety of the animals. Sadly, these efforts are slow and don’t advance fast enough. Even new products, such as tablets which our dogs can chew, bear the risk of harming the pets. That’s why I personally always try to use natural flea treatment for dogs.
But don’t get me wrong. Not all of these products are bad. The best thing I would advise a pet owner to do is to call the vet and discuss the product with them. If an animal expert thinks the product would benefit my pet, I can safely apply it. However, even then I’m skeptical because it’s never a bad idea to have a little doubt when my dogs’ health is at stake.
What Can a Flea Do to My Dogs?
I have multiple dogs, but for the sake of my readers, I’ll be using a single dog as an example from now on. If I walk a dog, it’s likely to pick up a flea literally anywhere. In fact, it can even pick up a flea by just chilling in my backyard, doing nothing. That’s because fleas can be anywhere and once they get to my dog, they don’t let go.
Usually, the dog will just feel mild irritation and try to scratch the fleas away. However, there are known cases of serious issues that came from flea bites. I will list some of them below. Please note that I’m only doing this because it can very well happen to other dog owners, and not too many of them know about this info. So, before we move on to natural flea treatment for dogs, let’s discuss the flea bite consequences.
Anemia is a condition where our body produces fewer red blood cells. Anyone can recognize a person with anemia — they collapse frequently and look very pale.
But us humans aren’t the only ones to develop anemia. Dogs can suffer from it just as much, especially if they have fleas. Now, a single flea won’t cause anemia, but just imagine dozens of them sinking their proboscises into the skin of the dog and sucking out its blood. It’s not a pretty sight.
Puppies, in particular, can suffer horribly from anemia. Symptoms include rapid breathing, lethargy, sleepiness, lack of energy and, eventually, death. Whenever I suspect my dog has anemia (which, thankfully, isn’t that often), I immediately take it to the vet. I advise all pet owners to do so if this happens to them.
The thought alone disgusts me. Everyone knows what a tapeworm is, and the less I have to talk about it, the better. But what do tapeworms have to do with fleas?
Well, fleas can actually be infested with tapeworm eggs. And a dog can swallow a flea or two while licking its itchy spot. If it does, this disgusting parasite will be in the dog’s belly until I remove it with medication.
Granted, tapeworms usually don’t harm the dog that much. All that happens is that the dog eats more and gets thinner. Oh, and that sections of the tapeworm will stick out of its butt. I will be the first to admit that it looks gross, but it’s not really a major health hazard.
3. Flea Allergy Dermatitis
Flea allergy dermatitis, or FAD, is a condition where a flea bite activates an allergic reaction. Sadly, there are a lot of dogs that suffer from FAD. Even one of my own dogs gets it when a flea nibbles on its skin.
After the FAD kicks in, the skin of our canine begins to irritate and itch. However, it doesn’t just itch where the flea bit the skin. It spreads beyond this spot, which becomes dangerous. The dog begins to lose hair and the bite spot becomes infected if not treated. FAD is probably the biggest reason anyone should turn to natural flea treatment for dogs.
4. Bartonella Infection
Bartonella is a type of bacteria that typically affects cats. It causes the condition known as bartonellosis, which affects the liver, the heart, and the eyes. A lot of cat owners have a hard time with this illness, though admittedly not as hard as their pets.
As a dog owner, one would think I can relax and not worry about Bartonella. But veterinarians are seeing more and more dogs contracting these bacteria. It’s still unknown how the dogs contract it or how it affects them, but based on early studies we can reasonably assume that fleas are the most likely culprit.
There are, of course, more conditions and illnesses, but they are rarer than these four. However, before I move on to talking about natural flea treatment for dogs, I have to provide some useful tips on how to “flea-proof” the dog’s immediate environment.
Natural Flea Treatment for Dogs’ Yards and Houses
Sometimes it’s better to be safe than sorry. Even before I had my first dog, I made sure my yard and my house were flea-proof, among other things. Now I’d like to share how I did it.
Protecting the Yard
1. Get Nematodes
Sometimes the best way to kill a parasite is with another parasite. But what can kill something as small as a flea, but not hurt my dog or me?
Enter nematodes. A nematode is a small worm that grows in the soil. Some of these nematodes are harmful to humans and animals. Others, however, only eat pests, including fleas. These are the ones I normally buy. That’s right, anyone can buy these worms from online and offline garden centers.
Once I get my nematodes, I put them in water and spray said water all over my yard. They begin to work immediately and soon enough fleas begin to drop dead.
2. Spraying Garlic Water
Fleas hate garlic, which makes it a perfect repellent. All I have to do is make something called “garlic water” and lightly spray it all over my plants.
It’s also very easy to make. First, I take about eight or ten cloves of garlic and chop them, skin and all. Then I place them in a massive pot and pour nearly boiling hot water over them. Once that’s done, I cover the pot and let the garlic steep for half a day. The last step is to put it all in a spray and spritz the yard.
However, it’s key to do it once and to do it lightly. After all, fleas aren’t the only insects that hate garlic. If I use too much, I can kill insects that are essential to keeping my garden safe and blooming.
3. Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth
I have to stress the “food grade” part because the industrial grade is too harsh for garden conditions. Diatomaceous Earth, or DE, kills flea eggs before they spawn adult fleas. I can buy it at any holistic store and it usually comes in the form of a powder. The next step is to spray it on the spot where my dog spends most of its time. But I have to do this wearing a mask, with the dog far away from me. I have to do this because DE can be dangerous if inhaled. However, once the cloud of DE dust settles on the ground, the dog can come out and enjoy the great outdoors.
4. Mowing the Lawn
Yes, mowing the lawn can be irritating. However, fleas lay their eggs in tall grass, where they also hatch, grow and attach themselves to dogs. In that respect, they’re similar to other parasites, such as ticks.
The best solution to this is to cut the grass close to the soil. So I always suggest to get that mower and start mowing. It might not be an ideal solution, but it will keep the fleas away from the grass for at least a month or so.
5. Repellent Plants
Garlic is great at repelling fleas, but I can’t exactly plant it with my flowers and other plants. But luckily, there are plenty of plants out there that naturally repel fleas.
Some of these plants include catnip, rosemary, lemon balm, lemongrass, basil, sage, and mint. Normally I fill a few pots with any of these plants and distribute them throughout the yard. Of course, I also place a few close to my house door and alongside my concrete path. The more I spread them about, the more effective they’ll be against fleas.
Each of these plants secretes a natural oil. Of course, I’ll cover some of these oils later, but even in their natural form, these plants make sure that the fleas won’t enter my house and attack my dog. In fact, they’ll avoid attacking even when the dog is outside.
6. Keep the Yard Sunny
Like tiny vampires, fleas die out when exposed to sunlight. Of course, I can’t really install a miniature sun in my backyard, but there is something I can do. The best step to undertake is to expose as much of my yard to the sun as possible. If there are patches of my yard that must have shade, I simply use DE or repellent plants on them. That way I can combine several effective ways of combating fleas, all of which work perfectly with one another.
Protecting the House
1. Repellent Plants: the Sequel
Earlier, I mentioned several different plants that repel fleas. I also stated that the best way to flea-proof the yard is to place pots of them all over. However, this step can also be applied to the house.
For example, I have several pots of rosemary and lemongrass in each room, except the bathroom. These plants are great at keeping the fleas away. However, they aren’t going to kill the fleas that are already biting the dog, but I’ll get to that soon. Aside from these plants, I also used chrysanthemums and Penny Royal. People can buy all of these at a local florist.
Salt is an excellent killer of fleas. It dehydrates them to the point of death, which is why most homemakers use it. Not only is it effective, but it’s also relatively cheap compared to pesticide products.
When I want to use salt in my house, I get the finely ground brand and add water to it. Next, I spray it all over my carpets and rugs. After roughly two days, I vacuum up the floor, dead fleas included.
3. Lemon Juice
Much like salt, lemon juice effectively gets rid of fleas. The process of using it is also simple. First I cut up a lemon and leave it overnight in a bowl of water. I then use said water and spray the house.
One benefit that lemon juice has over salt as a natural flea treatment for dogs is that it smells great. So I will get a nice-smelling home AND kill a lot of fleas, keeping my dog safe. Sounds like a winning combination to me.
4. Baking Soda
Some people call baking soda a “universal cure-all” for household activities. Usually, I don’t pay attention to such claims, but when it comes to natural flea treatment for dogs, it works.
Much like DE in the yard, I can spray some baking soda on my furniture and carpets. I then rub it in with a brush, and I do it very hard. Finally, I vacuum it all up and empty the vacuum cleaner.
5. Essential Oils
While not as “natural” as plants, essential oils are still a good way to keep my home flea-free. Naturally, I first visit the vet and check with them if the oil won’t harm my pets. Once I get the OK, I use the oil all over the house.
6. Getting Rid of Rugs
Normally, people aren’t ready to get rid of expensive or high-quality carpets. If someone has Berber carpeting, that’s good. Most fleas can’t move within Berber carpets because of how thick their weave is. But if I happen to have a different rug and don’t want to get rid of it, there are still ways I can keep the fleas away from it.
The first part requires vacuuming. I try to vacuum my home at least once every two weeks, but the best thing to do is to vacuum even more frequently. Once a week ought to do it. Then there are times when I spray DE all over my carpets. Two days later, I vacuum up the remains and the fleas are nowhere to be seen.
The second part involves steaming the carpet. I don’t do this often. In fact, I only do it three or four times a year. That will keep the carpet clean, fresh and bug-free.
OK, now that I covered the yard AND the house, it’s time to move on to the dog itself.
Natural Flea Treatment for Dogs — an Informative List
1. Apple Cider Vinegar, or ACV
ACV is an excellent natural flea treatment for dogs. Not only is it great on the coat, but it’s also great for the dog when it consumes it.
I always suggest mixing 6 ounces of warm water with 6 ounces of unfiltered ACV and a fourth of a teaspoon of pink Himalayan salt. This solution is great for spraying on the dog’s fur. As far as feeding is concerned, half a teaspoon of ACV added in the food bowl is a good daily dose for a 25-pound dog.
Dogs don’t really like garlic either, and it’s not good to feed them too much of it. However, a small amount mixed with regular food would produce amazing results. A fourth of clove is a decent natural flea treatment for dogs that are over ten pounds in weight. I suggest cutting that amount in half for smaller dogs.
It’s important to start feeding the dog garlic roughly a month before flea season, just to be on the safe side.
3. Essential Oils
Oils such as lemon, lavender, cedar, eucalyptus, palmarosa, mint and clary sage can be a good natural flea treatment for dogs, but only if I mix them with some sort of carrier oil. Too much of these essential oils can actually hurt the dog, and we don’t want to do that.
4. Specialized Dog Tags
One type of natural flea-repelling dog tags is a chemical-free tag. For example, I got my dog an ultrasonic tag, but there are also tags that use the dog’s own bio-energy to repel fleas and other pests.
5. Raw Amber Resin Collars
Amber has been known to repel most insects, which makes it an interesting type of natural flea treatment for dogs. I’ve seen amber resin collars sold online, and some of my dog-owner friends told me that they work just as good as the chemical-free tags. As an option, amber isn’t that much more expensive than tags, and it seems to work just as well.
6. The Perfect All-Natural Flea Treatment for Dogs
After looking up this topic online, I found the perfect solution that uses all natural ingredients. Those ingredients include one lemon, one sprig of garden sage, two sprigs of freshly cut rosemary and a quart of clear, filtered water. I should note that the species of sage I use is Salvia officinalis.
The first thing I do is slice the lemon into very thin rounds and place it in a bowl with the sage and the rosemary. This bowl has to be made of stainless steel. Next, I add the water, which I first heat to the point of boiling. After this, I cover the bowl and let it steep for 12 hours or so. Finally, I use the liquid in a spray bottle and refrigerate it when I’m done.
This mixture is great when I want to take my dog outside. Not only does it prevent fleas from attacking it, but it also smells great and feels fresh.
Natural Flea Treatment for Dogs — Conclusion
There are good reasons to use natural flea treatment for dogs, or really for any pet mammal. These treatments don’t harm the dog, but they successfully repel or kill the pests that bother it. Of course, I always advise talking to the veterinarian before applying any of these treatments, just in case.