Many pet owners want flea protection without the high cost of using irritating chemicals on their furry friends. There are many different options available to help your pet live a comfortable, parasite-free life. If you end up with an infestation in your home, you will have many weeks of work in front of you, especially if you are dealing with carpets and rugs. Staying ahead of the problem is a lot easier than getting rid of a heavy population of fleas once you’ve been overrun. Here are some options for you to consider when looking to get through flea season naturally and skip an infestation.
Prevent Fleas in Your Yard
One of the first steps to keeping fleas off your dog is to keep them out of your yard. If your soil is warmer than 45 degrees for a few weeks every season, you can use nematodes to reduce flea numbers. These creatures are your best friend when keeping a yard flea-free. There are many kinds of these multicellular, wormlike creatures found in the soil. They will eat ants, grubs, termites and fleas. You can order them online or find them at professional garden centers. They come in a dry, ready to use package that you just add water to. You can then use a hose sprayer or watering can to get them into your yard. They are a living organism, so you will want to use them soon after you get them. Apply in spring, summer and fall to get the job done. It’s also a good idea to keep your lawn trimmed short to give them less room to live and to help spread the nematodes.
Use Plants to Guard
There are some plants that will help keep fleas from crossing the threshold into your home. These should be planted around the doors your dogs use most often to go in and out for relieving themselves. Consider adding catnip, rosemary, lemongrass, basil, lemon balm, sage and mint in pots around your entry ways. The strong scents are a deterrent to fleas and will discourage them from entering.
This non-toxic powder is composed of diatoms which are fossilized organisms that will break apart flea eggs when dusted over them. This dries the eggs out and prevents them from hatching and growing into adults. You can find the product in natural pet stores, garden stores, health stores and online. Make sure to only get food grade DE, as industrial grade will be treated with chemicals. Sprinkle the earth where your pet spends the most time and in your yard where they lay or dig. Diatomaceous Earth can be irritating if breathed in, so use a mask when dusting.
Fleas are naturally deterred by garlic. You can make a safe spray to use about your yard which can help to drastically reduce flea populations. To do this, add 8 chopped heads of garlic to a gallon of boiling water. Let this steep for at least twelve hours. Pour through a strainer and use in your sprayer to soak your lawn. Try to use a light spray, if it is applied to heavily, you can lose some bugs that are very beneficial. You can also lose plants if you soak them too much with the liquid.
Keep Your Home Protected
One of the best things a dog lover can do is to remove carpet from their home. Not only will carpet retain dander and smells, it provides an excellent home to pests. If you do have carpets, try the following to keep fleas away.
Steam clean your carpets a couple times a year. This will help to kill fleas and their larvae.
Vacuum at least once a week and empty or throw away vacuum bags immediately. This will discard any fleas and their eggs.
Spread diatomaceous earth during flea season and let sit for a couple of days before vacuuming up.
Steps for Protecting Your Dog
Once you’ve taken precautions to keep the parasites from your yard, and your home, you can protect your pet as well.
One of the most beneficial foods out there, garlic when eaten in small amounts, can help protect your dog from several parasites, including fleas. Large amounts say 75 cloves to a 70-pound dog, can be harmful. But it is safe to use fresh, chopped garlic in small doses with your furred friend, just be sure to only use fresh, and avoid supplements.
A safe amount is to give ¼ a clove per ten pounds. This applies to averagely sized garlic, not the jumbo sizes. If your pet is less than ten pounds, give 1/8 a clove of garlic. Regardless of how big your dog is, you shouldn’t go over two cloves of garlic, even if they are more than 100 pounds. You can start this feeding regiment a month before flea season for the best results.
Apple Cider Vinegar
A pH balanced dog is unattractive to fleas. It is best to use raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar to create an environment that fleas don’t want to be in. You can feed your dog about ½ a teaspoon per 25 pounds. If you use organic apple cider vinegar that has the ‘mother,’ in it your pet will also benefit from minerals, vitamins, nutrients, potassium and vital acids. You can even get test strips and test your pet’s urine to ensure they have the optimal pH. For dogs, it should be between 6.2 and 6.5.
You can also create a spray to use on your dog’s coat weekly. To do so you will need 6oz ACV, ¼ tsp of pink Himalayan salt or sea salt mixed with 4oz warm water. Mix well and spray your dog’s undercoat, belly and legs weekly. Be careful to avoid eyes, open wounds, and their privates.
Essential Oils for Prevention
It is important to note that if you are using essential oils, you must mix them with a carrier oil such as olive oil or vegetable oil or they will be too potent. There are many who recommend using water alone, but it’s important to note this is not safe. Essential oils aren’t water soluble so won’t disperse through the water. For best results, you should use a thin oil like grapeseed oil to mix with your essential oil at one drop EO to one-milliliter grape seed.
Be sure to avoid clove, pennyroyal and wintergreen. These are bad for your dog and should never be used. You can use the oil on bandanas and collars but be cautioned to only use these on your pet while they are outside and to remove them when they’re inside.
Tags for Collars
If you live near sand you may need a little extra help. Luckily for you, there are tags used to prevent fleas that are chemical-free. There is an ultrasonic tag that can last for as long as a year and cost less than $50.00. Another tag uses your pet’s energetic field and needs a few weeks of charging before use. This chemically-free tag is priced for less than $60.00 and can be found online.
Determining If Your Dog Has Fleas
Most of the above-discussed treatments are for prevention purposes and are natural so can be used without concern. Before altering your pet’s diet further or following some of the cleaning routines suggested below, you should first determine if your dog has fleas.
Check their belly for signs of the pests. You may see these small parasites scatter toward thicker cover when you roll your pet over on their back. Checking the base of their back right above the tail is another area you will find evidence of the parasites. Roll their fur back and if you see a salt and pepper dander close to the skin, your pet likely has fleas. The back of the neck, near the collar line, is another area you will see flea dirt or tiny black specks fleas leave behind when they feed.
Bathing your pet in a simple solution of Dawn dish soap can kill the fleas that are living on them and wash away larvae. If you are dealing with a population of fleas and still wish to get rid of them without harsh chemicals, this is one of the first things you must do. Get your dog wet and apply the soap, undiluted, around the collar area. This will keep the fleas from being able to run into the eyes, nose, and mouth. Work a rich lather into this area and do the same around the tail, then move onto the rest of the dog. Let the soap set for 5-10 minutes and then rinse thoroughly. Towel and air dry. Once your pet is fully dry, follow by brushing or using a flea comb.
If you have carpet, you will need to vacuum regularly. Those with hardwood and tile should sweep and mop. Vacuum or steam clean furniture as often as possible. Be sure to wash your dog’s bedding at least weekly until you have no further signs of fleas. Following a regular weekly cleaning routine can help eliminate the pests in your home.
Flea Repellent for Everyday Use
You can make a natural, homemade flea spray to use daily that won’t harm your pets. You will need two rosemary sprigs, 1 lemon, and 1 sprig of sage. Lavender is optional. To make it, cut the lemon into thin rounds add the sage and rosemary, placing into large glass or stainless-steel bowl. Add a quart of nearly boiling water. Steep covered overnight. In the morning, you can place the liquid in a spray bottle. Store in the fridge for up to two weeks.
Following a bath, using a flea comb can help remove dead or dying fleas, their eggs and the dirt they leave behind. This step can be integral to breaking the life cycle of fleas without using harsh chemicals.