Just do a quick Google search for home remedies for fleas on dogs and you’ll find endless results. It’s like everyone and their mothers has a natural, cheap, miracle solution for your itchy pooch.
The problem, of course, is that the vast majority of those flea remedies don’t work. And when it’s your little guy suffering like that, you really – really – need an effective remedy. Stat.
Why Use Home Remedies for Fleas on Dogs?
A dog can add a lot to your life. Sloppy kisses. Companionship on long walks. Endless cuddles. And all these things have a way of overcoming the more negative aspects of dog ownership. No one likes picking up poop, but we do it because we have to.
Likewise, fleas are one of those unfortunate facts of life that come with pet ownership. These bloodsucking creatures lurk outside, where they can easily jump onto our pets and hitch a ride.
And once they get inside the house, fleas have the perfect environment in which to raise their little flea kids and build a tiny flea community.
They don’t even have the decency to ask permission – maybe because they know what the answer would be. They simply move in, and won’t leave no matter how many hints you drop.
These parasites are the insect equivalent of that deadbeat cousin who shows up from time to time with a tearjerking story to borrow money and sleep on your couch. Or is that just me?
Anyway, fleas are bad news. These bloodsuckers can drive both you and your dog crazy. So if you’re infested with these pests, it’s tempting to go straight to the most potent pesticide you can get your hands on.
But fleas present a challenge from a pest control perspective because they spend so much time on your beloved animal. Adult fleas don’t ever want to leave their host if they don’t have to, and will do everything in their power to cling on.
Meanwhile, you don’t want to treat your furry friend with something that will make them sick. And that’s where natural, home remedies for fleas come into the picture.
Which Home Remedies for Fleas on Dogs Actually Work?
It can be tricky finding that balance between what’s effective and what won’t harm your pets. But here are a few tried and tested home remedies you can use to get the fleas off your dog – safely.
Keep in mind that some work well for killing fleas and some are flea repellents only. Mix and match as needed.
Have you ever wanted your dog to smell like a delicious lemonade? Now is your chance. Citrus juices, like that from oranges and lemons, can kill fleas on contact.
Simply squeeze out some of the fruit and pour the juice into a spray bottle, then spray it on your pet’s coat and rub it into the fur. Make sure to get the juice deep into the hair to kill fleas that hide inside. And be careful not to get any of the liquid into your dog’s eyes.
Be careful, however. While citrus works to kill fleas, citrus extracts can actually be harmful. Extracts often come from the rind of the fruit, which contains a chemical called d-limonene. D-limonene is harmful to dogs, so you should avoid it and any products that contain it.
This method may make you feel a little like you’re preparing your dog for Thanksgiving dinner, and not in a good way. Hopefully, they won’t think anything strange is going on as you dust them with a selection of aromatic herbs.
Rosemary is especially good as a flea repellent. The tiny creatures hate the stuff, which is why you rarely see them sitting down to a Sunday roast. However, eucalyptus, fennel, and wormwood are also useful. Use any or all of them together in equal measures.
You can apply these herbs by grinding them up into a fine powder and then using a shaker, like a saltshaker, to administer the product to your dog. It’s going to smell great, and it’s going to seem weird. But as with the citrus juice, make sure you get this mixture deep into the animal’s coat to reach all the fleas hiding inside.
Apple cider vinegar
If you’re the kind of person who often looks for home remedies and non-toxic solutions, you’ve no doubt come across the billion uses of apple cider vinegar before. And you probably also already have some in your house. This product is fantastic for cleaning all kinds of household objects. And I’m told you can even use it in cooking!
Well, add one more use to the list. Vinegar kills fleas with its acidity.
To prevent your dog from smelling too strongly of vinegar, mix it half-and-half with water into a spray bottle, then spray your puppy down.
Coconut oil contains lauric acid, which both repels and kills fleas. And it’s completely harmless for dogs. You can rub the oil into your dog’s fur, and it will not only kill fleas but will also help to improve the animal’s skin and soothes existing flea bites.
Some people also recommend feeding some of the oil to the dog, at a rate of 1 teaspoon per 20 pounds of body weight mixed with their regular food. The idea is that as your dog digests the oil, the active ingredient will be absorbed in his bloodstream and kill any fleas that take a bite.
Is that true? The science is still out on this one. But at least it won’t do any harm.
Comb and bathe
Sometimes, the most obvious solutions are the best. As far as home remedies for fleas go, they don’t come much simpler or more effective than this. Bathing your dog, even in nothing but water, will help to dislodge and kill a lot of fleas.
And a fine-toothed flea comb is an excellent weapon to remove fleas and their eggs. Yes, it’s time-consuming. But it’s infinitely preferable to the itchy bites caused by having fleas. Besides, there’s something viscerally satisfying about physically killing the fleas yourself.
Which Home Remedies for Fleas on Dogs DON’T Work?
Home remedies can be a bit of a minefield online. A product that some people swear by will be labeled as sheer poison by somebody else. It’s hard to know who to trust.
Before beginning any course of treatment on your pet, talk to a qualified veterinarian first and tell him what you’re planning to use. Since they know your dog, they should be able to give you the best advice on his treatment and care.
However, there are some remedies you will hear about online that you should definitely stay away from.
Garlic and related plants, like onions, are toxic to dogs. Now, it’s true that the dose makes the poison, and small amounts of garlic aren’t going to harm your pet, as you may know if your dog has managed to get into your leftover pasta.
However, numerous laboratory studies, including this one, have found garlic to be ineffective against fleas anyway.
Essential oils can make your pet sick. While you will hear lots of people touting their benefits, it’s better to stay away.
Although essential oils can be effective against many insects, it’s not worth risking your pet’s health to get rid of fleas when there are other, less harmful options available.