Singing, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” Summer, that is! Time to head out into the sunshine, play fetch in the grass, swim in the lake and hike in the woods. This is the time where it’s so good to be a dog….except it’s also a good time to be a flea, too.
As soon as the temperature hits 65 degrees Fahrenheit, fleas are ready for a mating party. And those females can lay up to 500 eggs or even 50 eggs per day on your dog. Want to really be freaked out? If you see only one flea, chances are there are 100 more that you don’t see!
Is your skin crawling yet? Don’t worry, though! There are so many ways to prevent and combat this problem. Unfortunately, a lot of those ways involve dangerous toxic chemicals that are not only harmful for your dog, but for you and your children, too. The fleas are definitely out there and it’s only a matter of time, but if you stay on top of it with all natural solutions, you will have no problems at all!
1 – Use Nematodes or Diatomaceous Earth
Start at the source! The majority of fleas come from the grass, so repelling fleas in the yard is a must. Both Nematodes and Diatomaceous Earth are great ways to combat the fleas in the yard.
Nematodes are living organisms found in the soil and are beneficial in controlling many garden pests like ants, termites and grubs, as well as fleas! Just add water and spray them throughout your yard with a water hose. Reapply spring, summer and fall.
Diatomaceous earth is a non-toxic powder made up of fossilized organisms called diatoms that dry them out before they can grow into adults. These can be used in your yard, as well as in your home. Just be sure to buy the food grade, as the industrial grade is chemically treated. Spread around where your dog spends most of his/her time. Be sure to let the dust settle before spending time in that area again.
2 – Cut Grass Short
Fleas love tall grass! It keeps the humidity up to where they like it. And it gives him higher jumping launches to get onto your dog. Make sure you keep the grass mowed fairly short.
3 – Plants that Repel Fleas
There are certain plants that fleas don’t like at all. These plants secrete natural oils that deter fleas completely. Make sure you keep pots of lemon balm, sage, rosemary, catnip, lemongrass, basil and mint in main outdoor areas and around the entryway.
4 – Garlic Yard Spray
Fleas can’t stand garlic, so why not treat your yard with a little garlic water? Make sure you give a light coating of spray to your yard because you don’t want to harm or repel the beneficial bugs that you want to keep in your yard. Here is a great recipe I found:
Garlic Water For Your Yard
What you need:
- 8 heads of chopped garlic
- 1 gallon of almost boiling water
How to make it:
- Place the garlic in an extra large soup pan and pour the water over the top
- Cover and let the mixture steep for 12 hours
- Pour through a strainer into a garden sprayer
- Lightly spray your lawn and garden area
5 – Get After That Carpet
First of all, my biggest recommendation is to remove your carpet all together. However, if that is not in the equation, at least make sure your carpet is berber. The weave in berber deters fleas and other bugs. Other things you can do to your carpets:
- Fleas love to hide in carpet, especially around baseboards, so make sure you give the carpet a really good steam clean, at least 1-2 times during the flea season.
- Vacuum at least once a week in all areas. (At least!) If you are dealing with an infestation, do it every day. Immediately empty the canister outside.
- Once a month, spread Diatomaceous Earth; let set for 48 hours and then vacuum up. Make sure to wear a dust mask and keep your dog out of the room until the dust has settled.
6 – Apple Cider Vinegar
Fleas don’t like a dog who’s pH balanced. Apple cider vinegar is a necessity for flea season. It creates a more acidic environment outside and a balanced alkalinity on the inside.
Feed your dog ½ teaspoon of ACV per day per 25 lbs. ACV contains important nutrients, vitamins, minerals, vital acids and potassium.
Dogs should have a pH between 6.2 and 6.5. Use pH urine testing strips to check! Here is a great coat spray that I found:
Apple Cider Vinegar Coat Spray Recipe
- 4 oz warm water
- 6 oz apple cider vinegar, unfiltered & organic
- ¼ tsp of sea salt
Mix the ingredients in a small spray bottle and spray your dog’s coat and underbelly weekly, avoiding the eyes or any open wounds.
This is one of my best ways to repel fleas and ticks on my dog. There are quite a few essential oils that are great for repelling these pests, but Young Living has a great oil blend specifically made for dogs called AnimalScents RepelAroma (distributor link) and it’s therapeutic grade & all natural. RepelAroma also works against mosquitos, ticks and many other pesty-bugs! This works so well! I would start with diluting this with a carrier oil (I use fractionated coconut oil), about 1 drop of essential oil to 4-5 drops of carrier oil in a spray bottle and lightly mist your dog. Make sure you get his/her belly and avoid the face. For smaller/petite dogs, dilute the oil even more.
Here are some other essential oils that repel fleas. Please make sure you are getting the best therapeutic essential oils, like Young Living:
- Cedar (atlantica)
- Eucalyptus (radiata)
- Clary sage
- Geranium (also repels mosquitoes & ticks!)
Making a flea collar with essential oils is another great way to ward off fleas without always having to reapply something topically, and it keeps the flea control constant and steady. Here is a great DIY recipe I found.
- 3-5 drops of Young Living AnimalScents RepelAroma, cedar oil or lavender oil
- 1-3 tablespoons of water
- Bandana or your dog’s collar
- an eyedropper (optional)
Dilute 2-3 drops of your chosen oil in 1-3 tablespoons of water. If you have a very large dog, you may not need any water. Using an eyedropper or other similar means, apply 5-10 drops of the mixture to the bandana and rub the sides of the fabric together, and then tie it about your dog’s neck. Reapply oil mixture to the collar once a week. You can also apply 1 or 2 drops of oil diluted with at least 1 tablespoon of olive oil can be placed at the base of your dog’s tail.
8 – Lemon Comb
Lemon contains limonene, which is a chemical that kills and repels fleas but is harmless to us and our dogs.
Slice up one lemon and boil them in a pot of water. Turn off the heat once there is a boil and let the mixture steep overnight. The next day, dip a comb or your pets brush in the liquid and run it through their hair. A sponge works as well for very short haired dogs.
9 – Flea Spray Recipe with Apple Cider Vinegar and Essential Oils
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 quart fresh water
- 2-3 drops of Young Living AnimalScents RepelAroma, lavender or cedar oil
- a decent sized spray bottle
Fill your spray bottle, and mist your dog, avoiding their face. To get up around the neck and behind the ears/their chin area, dampen a soft cloth with the mixture and wipe it on. Spray your pets bedding and around it with this mixture lightly as well.
Wash your pup with this weekly to deter fleas.
- A half a cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 ½ – 2 cups of fresh water
- 1/4 –1/2 cup of mild pet-friendly soap or shampoo or Castile soap
Stir together into a bottle and bathe weekly to keep fleas away.
11 – When it’s Time to Go All Out
Okay, say you are beyond the preventative stage and you are in full combat. Here are the steps to start right away.
- Wash your dog with citrus Castile soap each week followed bya final rinse with an apple cider vinegar rinse (1 part vinegar to 10 parts water).
- Use a flea comb from top of head to the underside of the tail, neck, underbelly and legs, using the lemon comb recipe above.
- Once a week, wash all of your dog’s bedding in hot water with a natural, unscented detergent. If your dog sleeps with you, make sure you throw your own bedding in the washer once a week, too.
- Every day, vacuum your carpets and floors, paying special attention to baseboards and any places your dog hangs out. Treat carpet with diatomaceous earth and sprinkle around baseboards.
- And I’m sorry to say – you’ll need to repeat this for several months, because you will want to tackle all of the fleas’ entire life cycles, from egg to adult.
Now that you are armed and ready for flea season, get out there and enjoy!