There are many flea control products on the market today, but most of the products are harmful to both the pet and the people around them. However, there are ways to control these pests without poisoning pets, people, plants and the environment. Here are some steps you can take:
- Stop the flea population from growing. The backyard is one place where fleas thrive. There’s a natural way to eradicate fleas; apply nematodes to your lawn via a sprayer. A nematode is a tiny worm that preys on flea larvae. This biological type of pest control has no adverse effects. Once the entire flea population is gone, the nematodes will naturally die from lack of food. It is recommended to wet the soil prior to application to give the nematodes a good start.
- Be sure to keep your pets healthy. What they put in their mouths is important for flea control. Flaxseed oil, available in most health food stores, is a good way to maintain your pet’s healthy skin. You can also buy whole flaxseeds, grind them, and add to food. Vitamin C and B-complex are also important to keep your pet healthy. Nutritional yeast adds B vitamins to your pet’s diet and may help repel fleas due to the B-1. As with all parasites, the healthier the animal, the less attractive it is to the flea. To repel fleas, very small amounts of garlic may be added to food (from one small to several large cloves of garlic daily, depending on the weight of the animal). Many treats contain garlic and yeast. However, dogs and cats are sensitive to foods in the onion family, and there are many reports of illness and even death resulting from over-use of garlic or onion. Since it is impossible to know how much garlic is “too much,” for your pet, it may not be worth the risk.
- If your pet already has fleas, use a fine-toothed comb. When combing your pet, keep a bowl of soapy water nearby. Dip the comb in the water after each sweep through your pet. Once you’re done, put the water into a container and freeze it to kill the fleas.
- Food-grade diatomaceous earth is a powder you can rub onto your pet and sprinkle on bedding and carpets to kill existing fleas. Sprinkle the powder on your pets and on your carpets. The silicon-based microskeletons of tiny dead critters rub the exoskeletons of the fleas and go into their respiratory holes, blocking and damaging them, so the fleas can’t breathe. It also works by damaging the exoskeletons so that they lose water and die of dehydration. If you mix a little with food, this also works on worms in the digestive tract.
- During flea season, vacuum the rugs and furniture often. Flea eggs are gathered by vacuuming but they will still hatch in the bag. The bag must be sealed immediately and thrown away or frozen. Also, wash your pet’s bed covers at least once a week.
- There are gentle herbal shampoos specially formulated for flea control which can be used as often as once per week. (Shampooing too often will dry out your pet’s skin.) Anything that makes lather will drown fleas if you leave the lather on for three to five minutes. So you don’t need to use a toxic shampoo! When shampooing your pet, it is best to use warm water and start with a rich lather around the animal’s neck. That way, fleas can’t go up the face.
- Herbs that repel fleas are St. John’s Wort, rue, neem, basil. Use these externally. External applications of the essential oils of rose geranium, eucalyptus and tea tree may be sprayed on the fur and bedding of dogs, but not cats.
- If you want to give your pet herbs in their food, to help repel fleas, the result may be that their little bodies will start to eliminate parasites, such as roundworms, hookworms, heartworms, tapeworms, etc. One way the dead parasites will exit the body will be by way of the kidneys and bladder, so these must be kept in good working order with fluid flowing freely. For this purpose, Hulda Clark recommends that you feed your pet parsley water for a week before starting a parasite program. Just cook a bunch in a quart of water for three minutes and throw away the wet parsley. Pour the resulting parsley water into ice cube trays and freeze, then store in zip-lock bags in the freezer. Thaw out a few cubes each day and feed to your pet, who will probably come to love it.
- Once your pet has had his parsley water for a week, you can start feeding him a supplement of (green) black walnut hulls, which will repel fleas due to the tannic acid juglone. This is available in liquid tincture or capsule form. Be sure it is pale green, not black, to be sure the hulls were harvested at the right time. Be sure to give only the minimum effective dose , since too high a dose is toxic. Cats should get 1/2 to 1 drop, twice a week, depending on size. For dogs, start with one drop each day. Work up to 2 drops a day if the dog weighs twice as much as a cat, and so forth for larger dogs. If a dog weighs ten times as much as a cat, work up to 10 drops. Your pet may vomit or have diarrhea with worms in it. If so, disinfect the mess before cleaning it up. You can pour salt and iodine on it and let stand for 5 minutes. Wash your hands carefully, preferably with food-grade alcohol, and scrub your nails.
- As part of an overall parasite-ridding program, you can add the smallest pinch possible of wormwood and clove to dry food, after your pet has had walnut for a week.
- These are just some of the methods of non-toxic flea control. Pesticides commonly used by humans may be hazardous to pets. With these methods you can be sure that you are not adding a toxic load to your beloved dog or cat.
Thanks for you flea control tips! Diatomaceous earth for pest control works wonders. We sometimes even use it for wasp nest control near aquatic environments, as chemical pesticides are extermely toxic to aquatic life. The only disadvantage is that it is slow, but it does work!
I commend you, this is one of the best articles on natural flea prevention I have ever seen. I had not even tried St. John’s wort for fleas. But you cover so many other treatments that it’s hard to find info on. Just another helpful one … a few drops of lavender essential oil added to water and used to rinse a dog’s coat can be very effective. It should NOT be used on cats, of course. Great article though. 🙂
Thanks for the tip, Trishanna! I wonder if Lavender essential oil can also be used on a dog’s pillow to help him or her sleep, as it can be used that way for humans.
Using natural pest control has great advantages, like that you can save your money and keep safe your family’s health and also that of your pets.
Great ideas for safe elimination of fleas. It seems to have been a particularly bad year for them this year. If you use the nematode method of reducing fleas, will the nematodes harm any of the plants or garden in the yard? Thanks.
@Rachel – The nematodes you put in the lawn don’t harm the plants. Apparently, there are all kinds of different nematodes in the world!
Our vet has told us that garlic is toxic to dogs. I have also seen this warning in many other places- none of which are trying to promote their own flea treatments- point being that there is no conflict of interest.
@ Kristian – Heinz-body anemia, affecting red blood cells, can reportedly be caused by too much garlic over an extended period of time. I have seen recommendations not to give garlic to puppies at all, not to give garlic to toy dogs (who may be more susceptible), only to give a clove per day for flea control, and not to give garlic at all because the risk is not worth it. When researching this topic, you might use this type of anemia as the search term, to get more specific data. I found this article about the dangers of garlic to pets (http://www.petsbynature.com/Garlic-Can-Be-Deadly.html ) to be useful. Thank you for bringing this up!
I believe there were yucca roots in that recipe along with a mix of aloe vera. I just remember the long walks to the marketplace on weekends to get the ingredients we didn’t have. Must have been 5 or 6 back then 🙂
It’s amazing that remember that much! The yucca root and aloe were probably both for soothing the skin irritation caused by flea bites. Aloe also is useful for helping carry herbal constituents deeper down through layers of skin.
My mother used to use a natural dog shampoo made from the bark and roots of indigenous trees. Some of these used to grow in our backyard. The rest would be sourced from the herbal market.
I’d love to know what was in the natural dog shampoo your mother made!
Awesome Cheryl, thanks.
You mention spraying the lawn with nematodes…is that the same kind of nematode that attacks plants? I have fig plants and they are susceptible to root damage by nematodes.
There are harmful nematodes and beneficial nematodes. Beneficial nematodes help control harmful nematodes, similarly to the way beneficial bacteria help control harmful bacteria. The type of nematodes that kill fleas are Orcon FD-C7M Live Flea Killing Nematodes, 7 Million Count
How can I help my German shepperd dogs in the summer time. We live in the bush, and there are many flies here in the summertime, like mosquitos, black flies, & horse flies. Not so much the mosquitos, but the flies sure bother my dogs, especially the tips of their ears. What can you recommend?
Care Bear. Your poor dogs! I recommend herbal essential oils that repel insects. Citronella is one of the most effective. One spray product is BuzzEnder Pet Insect Repellent Spray – All Natural Mosquito Protection For Pets – Keeps Insects Away From Your Pets Safely and Effectively
This is great. I have a really hard time with fleas because I have to bathe my dog about every 4-5 days for his dermatitis. Unfortunately, this means I am continually washing off the Advantage, and to a lesser degree Frontline. I have been sneaking him garlic pieces inside little piece of chicken and so far so good. no fleas that i can see for the whole last month. Bravo! Great idea.
Hooray! Well done, Julian. I get very excited when people get rid of fleas, however they do it. Fleas have been such a bane to the existence of pets and pet owners alike.
Good to know. Wish I knew about this when I had my cat. Oh well, at least I’ll know for future reference.
When my old cats died, I didn’t get any new kittens for years and years, because I just couldn’t face the fleas. Now we have cats and no fleas. What a pleasure!
I’ve actually got some St John’s Wort that I never use in my house. I’ll have to use this on my Golden Retriever today. Poor thing has a bad case of fleas.
I’m always pleased to find non-toxic forms of pest control. This keeps us all safe. Kids, pets, and the environment. Well done and thanks for this great information.
These are some excellent tips to control fleas without using toxic products. Another way to make sure you control them is to steam clean the carpet once a month. You will have to have a steam cleaner though. But your home will be flea-free and your carpet will be very clean 🙂
Thanks for a great idea, James. In addition to steam carpet cleaners, there are other steam devices, such as those made for clothes, that could be used on some cloth furniture.
I never knew you could use these natural products to treat fleas on your animal. It’s great, I have a tom, and he is out and about all the time so is prone to picking up fleas. I will try these tips, and hopefully they will work. It will save me a lot of money, too, and it will be nice to not use harmful products in the household! Thanks 🙂
I would love to hear how this works out for you. Our cats are indoor cats, because we are in coyote and bobcat country, but when we had outdoor cats, they too were prone to pick up fleas. At the time, I didn’t know about the lawn treatment. If you decide to treat your lawn, I’d love to hear back how it works out. In fact, it would be great if you could come back with some feedback after trying any of the tips.
I wrote an article similar to this one on my blog about industrial products and equipment. Keep up the good work!
Do you want to give us the link to your article?
There is some excellent advice here, Much of it I haven’t come across before. I’m so glad I came across your site. Here is a rich source of ideas for natural and non toxic treatment of pets. Many thanks
.-= Pet @ cat urinary infection´s last blog ..Vaccinating Your Puppy =-.
Hi, Cheryl. Thanks for the advice. I had a flea infestation at the beginning of the summer with my kitten. I did try the DE powder on her and the carpet as well. It seemed to help. I let her out to play in our screened lanai and that is probably where she attracted the fleas. Any advice on how to treat out there. It has indoor/outdoor carpeting. She loves to go out there. We do not let her go outdoors and roam. I do not want to have a repeat next year.
Welcome, Vivian. Have you tried DE on the indoor/outdoor carpet, with repeated applications and vacuuming? By the way, when vacuuming, be sure you discard the bag afterward (in a closed plastic bag). If there is no vacuum bag, empty the dust container into a plastic bag (outdoors) and seal it well. Also, whenever you turn off the vacuum, put a piece of tape over the hose opening, so the fleas can’t escape. They are so tough!
Hi! My name is David. I take care of a stray dog who is suffering on a daily basis from fleas. I did know that Neem oil is great for treating fleas but did not know about St John’s Wort and Basil. I’ll definitely try these out and I’m sure the dog will appreciate it a lot! -david 🙂
Hi, David. Thanks for visiting. Good luck with your dog! I’d like to hear about any success you have with any of the non-toxic flea-control methods. In my experience, when people are used to using chemical means, they might not be aware that you need to do everything you can when you are going non-toxic. The more of these methods you can use, the better! Since a dog goes outside, I think it’s especially important to try the lawn treatment, to avoid constant re-infestation.
Great list! When we treat homes, everything on the ground that the pet has gotten near must be washed in addition to the pets blankets and such
We have pets and they got a lot of fleas. The one that we are using to kill the fleas can poison the pets. So now I know what to use the next time they get fleas. Thank you for sharing this info.
I am very happy to learn that you have a new, safe way to deal with fleas. I grew up with cats, and my skin always had little scars from scratching flea bites. I grew adept at catching the pesky things and killing them with two fingernails, but that was just a drop in the bucket. These safer ways makes it possible for me to enjoy cats again!
Thanks for the great advice about non-toxic flea control! We are so used – almost addicted – to chemicals for cleaning, but there are always natural ways and organic products for anything that one could ever need!
That is so true, Vass. Thinking about what I saw around the house when I was growing up, the cleaners under the sink and the chemicals in the bathroom medicine cabinet all seemed normal. Last night, we called the vet because a kitten had eaten a little of a daylily flower. Not being sure how toxic this was, we asked his advice. He said, “Give the kitten some Pepto-Bismol”. We said we didn’t have any, but had given him charcoal. The vet said that was fine; he just hadn’t thought we would have HAD any charcoal. Once you get used to using non-toxic and natural products, you have them around the house and you think of them in an emergency.
Excellent advise! No need to use toxic products that harm our precious companion animals, the environment and us.
Marisa, what you’ve said here is very important. There is no NEED to use toxic products. When I had cancer, I had to examine all my household products, body products, and foods for toxins. I found that, surprisingly, I didn’t actually HAVE to even clean my oven with oven cleaner or the sink with standard cleanser. There were non-toxic alternatives. Sometimes, the results were not as clean-looking as with the chemicals. But how can something be “clean” if it is coated with poison? If you “clean” an animal with toxic shampoo; the dirt is gone, the fleas and flea eggs and flea dirt are all gone, but invisibly left on the skin is poison. Not really clean, after all.