Don’t Risk Harming Your Dog With Chemical Flea And Tick Products: Do This Instead To Keep Your Hound And Home Flea And Tick Free
Yuk! Your lovely fur baby has started to scratch and you’ve spotted a flea… Act quick with these simple tips which explain how to get rid of fleas on your dog and avoid using chemical flea treatments that can cause health problems in dogs.
Isn’t it awful, that moment when you realise you’re sharing your bed with your mutt… and its fleas. Well that happened to us this week. My dogs rarely get fleas, but a couple of days ago my lovely fur daughter started scratching and upon inspection, there it was: I immediately saw a flea crawling along her thigh. Dobermanns are short haired so it was easy to give her a quick inspection, but it can be trickier to spot fleas in a long-haired dog.
And don’t think that the only downside to your dog having fleas is that there are nasty little insects running all over the place. Apart from the irritation and skin allergies that fleas can cause, fleas can transmit tape worm. And just imagine how quickly your home can become infested, given that a female flea can lay 50 eggs a day.
So what to do? I avoid using chemical treatments as there have been cases of the harsh pesticides in flea treatments causing serious – even fatal – problems in pets (source). If you’re not convinced, see this.
Clean your dog
The first step is to bath your dog. Unlike ticks, fleas don’t grab on to your pup’s fur, so many of them will simply fall off into the water. This simple step will get rid of many of the fleas off your dog.
Make this step even more efficient by adding a couple of cups of apple cider vinegar (ACV) to the water. If, like me, you only have a shower and no bath, clean your pooch in the shower then make a final rinse of 1 cup ACV to 4Lts (approx 1 gallon) of water. Pour this solution over your dog but don’t rinse it off: just towel dry your pup. The ACV won’t kill the fleas, but it repels them as they dislike its smell. Since fleas prefer dirty dogs, keeping your mutt clean will help deter fleas from making their home on your fur kid.
If YOU don’t like the smell of ACV, try adding a few drops of dog-safe essential oils to the rinse solution: my favourite would be geranium . See this list of other dog-safe essential oils you could use. Towel dry your pup down afterwards – don’t rinse off the ACV solution.
There may be some fleas still hiding away on your dog, so after you’ve got Fido smelling beautiful, stand him on a light-coloured surface (white towel, old shower curtain) and comb him down with a flea comb. Why the white towel? If any fleas fall off, you should see them more easily and can kill the little critters straight away.
How to get rid of fleas using home remedies
Use apple cider vinegar (ACV)
A topical spray
We’ve already seen that we can add ACV to the bath water or use it as a shower rinse. In addition, you could make a topical spray for your pooch with 1 part ACV, 1 part water. Mix it up in a spritz bottle and spray away!
In your dog’s food
In the past I tried adding ACV to my dogs’ water bowl, but they didn’t like the flavour. I don’t want them to stop drinking water, so now I add it to their food. They don’t seem to notice and eat it all up. I add 1 tsp to each meal, and they get fed twice a day. I use ACV ‘with the mother’ for this, since ‘the mother’ has more health benefits.
Use lemon juice
But what if you REALLY don’t like the smell of ACV? Try lemon juice instead, or any other citrus fruit juice. It’s the citrus element that the fleas dislike. Use it in the same way you would the ACV bath / shower rinse and the spritz bottle – just be aware that lemon juice can lighten dark dog fur.
Use essential oils
Essential oils can be mixed with a carrier oil to make an effective anti-tick or anti-flea formula. If you live in an area where bugs are a real problem, you might need to apply the formula daily, especially if your dogs spend a lot of time outside.
You can also use certain essential oils in an oil burner or diffuser to repel ticks and fleas.
How to get rid of fleas in the house
Of course, getting rid of fleas on your dog isn’t the only step: it’s estimated that only 5% of the flea infestation is on your dog. The rest is hiding under your bed, the sofa, in the carpets and on the floor… Once you’ve done all the above actions to treat your pooch, get started on the house:
How to get rid of fleas using DE
I love DE (diatomaceous earth). For years I, like so many others, used to use it as part of a natural deworming program for my dogs and goats. Sadly however, there isn’t one clinical study that shows efficacy for its use as an internal dewormer. Thankfully though, its use externally is excellent. Be sure to buy food grade diatomaceous earth if you do buy it!
I fill a flour shaker with DE and sprinkle it in the dog bed areas, the floors, the dogs themselves and my bedding. I leave it like that for a day even though it’s a little unsightly having white powder all over the house – just don’t do it the day your in-laws are due to come and visit! Then I vacuum and it disappears.
If you don’t have a flour shaker, you can easily make up a shaker from a small plastic container with tiny holes drilled into the lid.
Make sure that you and your pooch aren’t breathing in DE when you apply it and don’t get it in your dog’s eyes. I sprinkle it over my dogs’ backs and then gently brush it through. It does temporarily dull that lovely sheen on their coat for a while. It also dries your hands, so either use gloves or grab that pot of hand-cream for yourself afterwards.
Avoid flea infestations
Treating fleas naturally is a slower process then simply squirting some nasty chemicals on your dog, and you’ll have to repeat some of the steps several times until your home and pooch are flea-free, but isn’t a little bit of extra work preferable to risking your pup suffering from some nasty pesticide side-effect?
By regularly washing your pet’s bedding, sofa covers, bed linen etc, and by keeping your dog clean, you will already be doing a lot to avoid major flea problems in the future. Regular snuggles on the sofa are a great moment to do a quick flea check too, so it’s not like all the ‘work’ in keeping fleas at bay is unpleasant!
Checklist to de-flea your hound and home:
- Bath or shower the pooch
This will get rid of many fleas from her fur
- Rinse with apple cider vinegar and towel dry
This will deter fleas from coming back
- Comb with flea comb to remove remaining fleas
Remove any fleas still clinging to her fur
- Vacuum the house
- Wash bed linen and sofa covers
Include any other washable fabrics where there might be fleas
- Sprinkle DE around the home and brush onto your pup
Leave it on the floor surfaces
Commercial, natural flea and tick solutions
You might love the idea of ditching the chemicals and treating your dog naturally, but you worry that you don’t have the time for the DIY route. No problem! There are some fantastic products on the market that come ready made and will do the same job. Yes, it will cost more than preparing it yourself, but it is a very convenient time saver.
I love Dr Dobias’ philosophy on life and on dog care – he really strives for excellence in looking after dogs naturally. His Fleahex natural products to control fleas come in different formats – something for everyone!
Dr Dobias’s products were developed in high-density flea and tick regions and they come with a 100% money-back satisfaction guarantee.
DoTERRA anti-tick blend
DoTERRA make a blend called Terrashield which is designed to help protect you against the outdoor beasties. It’s dog-safe and you can add some anti tick oils to it, such as geranium essential oil, lemongrass essential oil, rosemary essential oil and clary sage.
Mix the Terrashield, a teaspoon of water, a tablespoon of carrier oil (such as Castor / hazlenut / sweet almond / coconut oil), and 3 drops of each of the essential oils in a spray bottle. Shake it before using it. Spritz it on your dog (be careful to avoid the eyes/ nose/ mouth!) and rub it on. If your dog dislikes the sound of the spray bottle, apply it to your hands and wipe directly onto your dog. The idea is to spritz your dog, not soak it! You can also spray the same formula onto your dog’s collar or bandana.
There are lots of ways we can manage fleas and tick on our dogs by using only natural products. It’s easy to make these up yourself at home, but there are also some great commercial, natural products available. We don’t need to put our dogs at risk by using harsh, chemical products.