We’ve never had issues with fleas, ticks, or any other bugs on our dogs until we moved to California. Being in the concrete jungle of NYC kept us far away from these problems for years. I actually freaked out a bit (okay, a lot.) when I saw tiny fleas jumping from my dogs’ skin for the first time, and soon realized that this is a common everyday reality living in a suburb.
Why I Refuse to Use Commercial Spot-on Flea Treatments
Frontline, Advantix, Advantage, and other chemical treatments may work well to kill fleas, but the active ingredient in commercial spot-on flea treatments is either a form of pesticide or insecticide that may cause various health issues. There are some scary stories out there about how dogs have experienced seizures or behavior changes after using these products (Thank you, internet). Even if your pets seem fine after using them, the ingredients in these products are less than ideal and may be causing long-term damage after cumulative use.
Just like how I refuse to put anything on my skin that’s toxic or poisonous, the same goes for my dog babies as well. The chemicals in these products (which also include flea sprays, shampoos, dips, and powders) also affect the people who own pets, especially children and pregnant women. After a lot of research and consideration, we decided to experiment with natural and safe methods. After a year of testing different sprays, creams, soap, and diet, I have found 5 most effective ways to keep fleas and ticks at bay:
**Please note that these methods are intended for dogs. Some may apply to cats as well, but do your own research before trying them out for your specific pet.
5 Natural Flea Repellants
1. Brewer’s yeast. Brewer’s yeast is a type of yeast used in beer and bread making. It is actually quite nutrient-dense with vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin B, chromium, and selenium. When using it for flea treatment, you sprinkle some on your pet’s food everyday. After regular use, you dog will excrete an odor (humans can’t smell it) that repels fleas. This has worked especially well for our dogs, and they seem to like the taste of brewer’s yeast. Of course, if you dog’s a picky eater, he or she may not like it but I think it’s worth a try. This is the brand we use that we have gotten great results from.
2. Garlic. Contrary to popular belief, a small dose of garlic is safe for dogs, even beneficial! The studies that show that garlic can cause toxicity in animals was done with unreasonably high dosage of garlic extract, which isn’t a realistic serving. The Natural Vet’s Guide to Preventing and Treating Cancer in Dogs recommends a clove of fresh garlic per 10 to 30 lbs of weight a day for cancer prevention. When given in small doses, garlic can help boost the immune system, fight bacteria and fungal infections, and prevent fleas! Just like brewer’s yeast, fleas hate the smell of garlic.
For maximum benefit, crush garlic clove and let it sit for 10-15 minutes before adding it to food. I would start with 1/2 of clove for 10-20 lb dog, and a full clove if heavier than that. You can do this 2-3 times a week to get the benefit of repelling fleas.
3. Betadine solution bath. If you’ve never heard of it before, betadine is an antiseptic iodine solution useful for cuts and wounds. It also has the added benefit of soothing flea bites and skin allergies, as well as killing fleas for dogs! I love this stuff. I’ve actually seen dead fleas in the sink drainer after bathing the dogs with it. This is what I use.
4. Lemon juice or vinegar. This is also a solution you can use during bath time or even make a spray with. Both the smell of lemon juice and vinegar deter fleas and ticks so it is an effective preventative treatment. If using at the end of a bath, you can use half of a lemon to massage and squeeze it into the dog’s skin. For best result, do not wash off. You can do the same with a half-water, half-vinegar solution.
To make a spray, you can mix lemon juice or vinegar with water, then spray the dogs before going outside. I have also heard of others adding apple cider vinegar to their dogs’ food to help with fleas as well.
5. Essential oils. Essential oils are a powerful and effective way to get rid of fleas. Some of my favorites are cedar, lavender, peppermint, citronella, lemon, and clove. I actually use peppermint castile soap to shampoo the dogs to help with fleas.
When using essential oils, make sure you buy quality oils, and to dilute it when using it on your pets. You can make a spray by adding several drops to water, add a few drops to their collars or harnesses, or my favorite method: add 2-3 drops to coconut oil and massage into their skin before going outside. I do this before going on a long walk or hiking, and our dogs haven’t brought home fleas or ticks for a very long time!
Just like humans, our pets need quality food and care to live a long, healthy life. I love my dogs more than most humans I know (just being honest), so I will no doubt make sure that I provide them with the most natural and safest methods when it comes to things like flea treatments. If you have any questions, leave me comment below or contact me. Also, please don’t hesitate to mention any other natural methods you’ve used on your pets that has worked well for you!
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