It’s one of those things I thought would never happen to my dogs…they got fleas. And we ran out to buy them those synthetic flea treatment collars just to realize that these are simply pesticides. We take care not to use pesticides in our yard or home, but ironically, we’d just invited them in! Because we didn’t like the idea of tying poison around our pets’ necks, we decided on another course. Here’s what we learned about natural flea treatment ideas for dogs and cats.
First, you have to get rid of adult fleas and their larvae and eggs on your furniture, pet bedding, and carpets before you should even bother treating your pets themselves. I know, ew. But cleaning your home of fleas isn’t as difficult as it sounds. In fact, you’re probably already taking care of the problem with general cleaning measures. Here’s what to clean before treating dogs and cats for fleas:
1. Vacuum all carpets, couch cushions, or mattresses that your dogs or cats use. Don’t think they sneak up onto the bed while you’re not looking? If not, your pets are better trained than mine. (Of course, that’s not saying much. Mine pretty much have the run of the place.)
2. Wash all pet bedding. Strip pet beds and machine wash with hot water, then tumble dry. Don’t air dry: you need the heat to kill the fleas and larvae.
3. Sweep any other pet traffic areas that are not carpeted. You’re probably already doing most of this on a daily or semi-regular basis.
Now you’re ready to address the flea problem on your pets themselves. Amid all the synthetic solutions for fleas on your grocery store shelves are three natural remedies:
Natural flea treatment remedies:
1. Organic pyrethrin: Derived from the flower heads of Old World chrysanthemums, pyrethrin has been used for centuries to fight fleas. If it’s hard to find, you can more readily find d-Limonene, which is a by-product of the citrus industry, and smells like grapefruit. While in the pet aisle, look for ‘natural’ or organic flea treatments containing one of these ingredients.
2. Diatomaceousearth: Much safer than pyrethrin (though even harder to say three times fast), diatomaceousearth is a form of dust-like algae. According to Mother Earth News, it can be sprinkled on pet bedding and carpet, where it attaches itself to the waxy coating of a flea’s shell, dehydrating it. Find it at a home and garden store under natural or organic agents.
Natural flea preventative measures:
Better yet is to not have a flea problem in the first place, right? The following natural remedies go a long way toward keeping fleas at bay (though every pet’s general health and skin condition also play a role).
1. Brewer’s yeast: add one small tablet to your dog or cat’s food. The yeast will excrete through the skin, making the animal less attractive to fleas.
2. Apple cider vinegar: add a spoonful to your dog’s water to make their skin more acidic. If they balk at the taste, you can dilute it 50/50 with water and use it in a spray bottle as a repellent.
3. Rosemary flea dip: steep a few cups of rosemary in boiling water, strain it, and add a gallon of warm water to the liquid. Give your dog a bath in it, pouring it over him, then allowing him to dry naturally. He’ll smell great, too!
Fleas are both an incredible nuisance and incredibly unhealthy for your pets. Preventative measures go the furthest. Before trying any flea treatments, organic or otherwise, consult your veterinarian, who can assist with the right dosage for the size of your pet.
Photo credit: AlyssssyLA