Hi stranger! Signing up for MypetMD is easy, free and puts the most relevant content at your fingertips.

Get Instant Access To

  • 24/7 alerts for pet-related recalls

  • Your own library of articles, blogs, and favorite pet names

  • Tools designed to keep your pets happy and healthy



or Connect with Facebook

By joining petMD, you agree to the Privacy Policy.

Natural Pet Remedies for Flea and Tick Control

 

While we may not be able to roll back the global warming trend, there are easier, softer ways to treat parasites, and ways in which we can avoid some of the pests.

 

A lot of people are reluctant to use chemical flea treatments because of the possibility of a toxic reaction with the skin. "If it isn't safe for my children, how can it be safe for my pet," they ask. Unless it is a full blown flea infestation, you may have good results by using gentler and safer methods for flea eradication and control.

 

1. Juice 'Em Away

Fleas are known to be repelled by citrus. A freshly squeezed orange or lemon can be rubbed onto your pet's fur, with no harm to your pet if it is licked off, and fresh smelling fur to boot.

 

2. Rub-a-Dub Tub

Remember the old cartoons where dogs would jump into water to relieve themselves of fleas? Water really does work. Since fleas do not grasp onto the hair shafts, they fall off in the water and drown. A good dip in a tub of water will wash away most, if not all of the fleas on your pet. Using a gentle shampoo, or a little bit of dish liquid, perhaps one with a citrus base (fleas are repelled by lemon and orange), along with thorough and regular brushing, will go a long way toward ridding your pet's body of fleas.

 

3. A Clean Home is a Happy Home

Around the house, vacuuming, laundering, and disinfecting the floors and your pet's living spaces will help to control the population of fleas (just make sure you do not use products with volatile organic compounds). In the yard, you might consider adding a natural predator of fleas. Nematodes are small worms that feed off of flea larva, and are easy to find at garden stores or pet shops. Keep in mind that the type of nematode that is being recommended here is termed a "beneficial" nematode. It is not the type that is known for infecting animals as heartworm.

 

4. Blades of Fury

Ticks hang out in tall grass and use the opportunity to grab on to passersby when they feel body warmth. If you are going to be spending time in wooded or grassy areas with your dog, you might want to fashion some cover-up clothing for your dog to avoid ticks. An old t-shirt can be altered to fit your dog's body, and old socks can be cut to make "leg warmers." This may not entirely prevent ticks from making their way onto your dog, but it keep most of them off since they have nothing to latch onto, and will slow the rest down so they do not spend as much time on your dog's skin.

 

5. Essential Oils

Because ticks carry dangerous bacteria, repelling them is a priority. One of the natural repellents that a lot of people have success with is rose geranium oil, which can be applied to your dog's collar. Do NOT use this on your cat, though. They can have a bad reaction to essential oils. With ticks, the best thing you might do it to check your pet a few times a day when you are in an area that has ticks, and remove them promptly. Proper technique is important for removing ticks and fleas, so make sure that you consult a veterinarian before doing it yourself.

 

Now that you have a few alternate means of combating fleas and ticks, you can feel confident that your pets will remain bug-free throughout the year — especially in the summertime, when there are plenty of nasty critters to worry about.

 

Image: Melody.loves.you / via Flickr

 

 

Comments  13

Leave Comment
  • Diatomaceous earth
    05/17/2012 11:30am

    Here is another non-toxic way to combat fleas that I am surprised to see omitted from this article since it is so effective:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diatomaceous_earth

    "Diatomite is used as an insecticide, due to its physico-sorptive properties.[8] The fine powder absorbs lipids from the waxy outer layer of insects' exoskeletons, causing them to dehydrate.[9] Arthropods die as a result of the water pressure deficiency, based on Fick's law of diffusion."

    I use it around the outside of my house, and on my lawn and garden.

  • 08/13/2012 11:01pm

    I use DE also put it on your Dogs coat and rub it in lightly put in on their dry food depending on the size a table spoon for large dogs and I use it for myself once a week I drink a Tablespoon in 4 Oz's of water then another glass of water to get rid of the chalky taste

  • 03/13/2013 12:01am

    I'm in vet school so I asked my professor about using DE. They weren't too enthusiastic because there has been some link to DE use and mesothelioma-like symptoms. I wish I had more details to share. There might not be the same ill effects when ingested, but they were concerned that that the DE would irritate the GI tract as it was killing the parasites. I've used DE around the house when I lived in Houston and fleas seemed to be coming up through the floor boards (feral cats lived under the house). I think it helps to have it dusted in the cracks of thresh holds as well to keep ants out and rubbed into carpet to kill the flea larva that live there. If you go to the Comfortis website, there is a video that explains the flea cycle. It was made by my professor, Dr. Dryden who is a flea expert. It's pretty useful in understanding their lifecycle as a way of helping to reduce the parasite load.

  • 03/24/2014 03:08pm

    Thanks so much for sharing. I've used DE some, but not often. I was first told that DE was inhaled by the fleas and it's coarse texture would damage the lungs. I did try it a couple of times but I did think that if it harmed fleas lungs, would it do the same to my babies? I've since research and found out that it causes dehydration in the flea...but still......not comfortable with it's use

  • 05/28/2013 10:12pm

    Just remember when using this to sprinkle it on the lawn and garden and water it in first to kill off the pests.

  • 08/13/2014 02:43am

    Thank you so much for bring up food grade DE, I have used it for flea control in my home and on my dog, "Peanut". From time to time I include a pinch in his food, it seems to help if he is losing weight. Being my constant companion and on my arm or shoulder so much of the day, I have become so intone to his weight I can tell when he needs to relieve himself by his weight. But, that is beside the point of what I wanted to comment on. I first heard of DE, on the internet when I had my last dog, "Zody" a female pit. who now lives with a good friend of mine. Zody was showing signs of illness and after researching the benefits of DE, I decided to give her some it was unclear to me how much should be given for deworming, but from what I read, with in reason it would not harm her. For at least 5 days I gave her about a Table spoonful or less each day. I wish I had paid more attention now, to the exact amount. I had had Zody about 6 yrs. and had lost my job right before she was abandoned as a puppy at my house. I struggled to feed her and myself, there was no money for heartworm treatment or vet care. I scraped together $25 and got a 5 gal. bucket of DE, for fleas and she was very healthy until she became so sick 6 yrs. later that I began to beg for help from friends and family for her to be seen by a vet. I was told her uterus must come out and I was honest with the doc. about her lack of care. I live in middle Ga. without prevention heartworms here are going to be found, a blood test was taken on Zody and I was told she may need to be put down if it came back that she had them. To the shock of myself and the vet. she came back neg. not a small amount, but completely neg. She had her operation and is still doing well to this day, at the age of almost 9. I have wondered if the DE could have been the reason for this. What is your opinion? A side note, I still have about 1/5 of that same bucket of DE I bought going on 4 yrs. ago. It has served me well and what a cheap harmless remedy for heartworms, if it could be true but I don't know.

  • fleas
    08/02/2012 06:01pm

    A friend of mine puts garlic in her pet's food and says she never has had any trouble with fleas...don't know about ticks, we don't really have a big problem here with them.

  • 10/09/2012 12:08pm

    Why would you ingest the DE?

  • 03/13/2013 12:06am

    Some people find that by ingesting DE, the internal parasites are abraded and thereby killed. There are conflicting thoughts on this because the safety hasn't been tested sufficiently. I did read one research paper that said that DE that was used in poultry operations led to increased weight gain and better egg production. Presumably this is because the animal could use more of their energy for themselves instead of sharing it with the intestinal worms. However, if the DE is strong enough to scratch up the worms (which are much tougher than the GI tract lining), then they are possibly irritating the lining of the dogs intestines. I wouldn't recommend doing it every day, and would still take the dog to the vet for yearly fecal exams. However, this is all probably not necessary for intestinal parasite though since the monthly heart worm preventative also kills most intestinal parasites.

  • Parasites - external
    04/15/2013 01:11pm

    Animals are caught between a rock and a hard place. Unprotected they get
    serious parasitic diseases, tapeworm, Lyme disease & anemia from fleas
    ticks, other parasites; whereas, if they use parasite medications, they can
    get horrendous side effects like seizures, violent vomiting and death.
    I'd like you to take look at an innovative technology that could replace
    dangerous flea medications and protect our precious pets from the ravages
    of fleas, ticks & other external parasites. This technology has swept Europe.
    The company has sold 20 million discs in 10 years, with not a single solitary
    return! And there is no ongoing expense as with Frontline, Hartz etc. that
    cost a few hundred dollars a year.
    This product has just been introduced to America and Canada & is
    spreading like wildfire to replace dangerous medications. You can not only
    protect your own pets, but choose to help others prevent the heartbreak of
    losing their pets by spreading the word.

    http://www.petprotector.org/?ID=24319
    http://www.petprotector.org/PetProtectorLP.aspx?ID=24319

    Sincerely,
    Jo Roark
    Senior Representative
    360-840-8964
    petprotectnow@Gmail.com
    Skype: jo.roark2

  • Garlic and Onions
    06/23/2013 10:52am

    Here the pet section of webmd say garlic and onions are toxic to dogs - so why would I feed them that for fleas? Probably shouldn't be telling people to do this.

    http://pets.webmd.com/dogs/ss/slideshow-foods-your-dog-should-never-eat

  • HOMEOPATHIC APPLICATIONS
    09/17/2013 08:41pm

    For centuries several natural remedies such and citrus, D.E., garlic, and Neem oil have been used for a variety of ailments for both humans and our pets. Any of these things CAN be used responsibly with taking into account the size and weight of your animal. You can't give a doberman the same dose as a small maltese and you certainly need to be more aware of cats as they're very different from dogs and much smaller. By taking these things into account and doing research ie; not only quoting things from web md you can find several articles related to the uses of these natural products on animals and in your household. For instance essential oils must be diluted when using them on our animals, there are some that are safer than others but if your not sure then dilute them with good oils such as olive oil (evoo) especially for cats this will keep the hair balls down too, or making them into a spray using the essential oil and water. Annicillin that is the naturally occuring volitile oil in garlic has antiviral, antiseptic, and antibiotic properties AND shouldn't be overlooked. It can be highly beneficial for both animals and humans and has been used for hundreds of years. It is only safe to use on your pet in SMALL QUANTITIES with care again to the size and weight of your pet. I cannot give my cat the same dose as myself or my dogs and the fresher the garlic the better but in small doses otherwise it can upset the stomach just like adults take pills with meals NOT without.
    I have found food grade D.E. to be a useful product it is safe to use in small doses and responsibly. If your going to use it on your floors and in your pets bed let it sit there for hours or overnight if possible while you and your pet are somewhere else then come back and vacum it up. It CAN be irritating to the airways if your not careful, remember our animals are not 5ft tall so there air is usually our foot traffic area and we need to keep that clean. There are several places to find researched articles on the subject but this is one link that has references to a couple others if you want more information. http://www.cherylsherbs.com/many_uses_of_diatomaceous_earth.htm
    Neem oil can be used for household insect control but NOT USED FOR DIRECT APPLICATION TO PET. A household insect spray with a high quality therapeutic grade neem essential oil and water (approximetly 12 drops to a 1oz spray bottle of water)can be used but keep in mind essential oils and water do not stay mixed so frequently shaking it during and before use is the only way to re-mix the ingredients. It can be used on bedding, floors and even the essential oils can be ADDED (DILUTED) to natural shampoos to deter further insect growth keeping in mind that less is more and smaller dilutions are safer. Diluting the essential oils is and knowing the properties and health warnings of any herbal product is always recomennded before use because after all, its your pet.

  • Wondercide
    01/29/2014 10:41pm

    I have found great success when using the all-natural "Wondercide" product on my golden, Bosco. No harmful toxins, and it has a nice scent, too.


Related Articles

Hiking With Your Dog
Before heading out to your favorite hiking trail, make sure you pack all the right...
READ MORE
A Cleaner, Greener Home for You and Your Pet
Out of all the toxic environments that your pet will be exposed to in its lifetime,...
READ MORE
Herbal Remedies for Dogs
Herbs have long been used to treat and prevent ailments in people, and apart from...
READ MORE
  • Lifetime Credits:
  • Today's Credits:
Hurry Before All Seats are Taken!
Enroll
Be an A++ Pet Parent! Take fun & free courses to earn badges & certifications. Choose a course»
Around the Web

MORE FROM PETMD.COM