3 Natural Flea Treatments That Vets Say DON'T Work on Pets

PetMD Editorial
Published: January 25, 2016
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3 Natural Flea Treatments That Vets Say DON'T Work on Pets

Fleas are a real nuisance, so it's not a surprise that we will stop at nothing to eradicate them from our pet’s life. Unfortunately, you may have been provided some bad information on how to best prevent fleas and handle flea infestations. Here are some popular flea treatment myths (e.g., dishsoap dipping, garlic, homeopathic) and why they don't work.

1. Garlic

According to Marty Becker, DVM “there's no evidence that garlic will control fleas on pets — although a lot of people seem to think it will.” Dr. Becker also notes that, if consumed in large enough quantities, garlic can be toxic to cats and dogs.


Click here for more foods to avoid feeding pets.


It’s also important to note that garlic can be toxic to pets. Check out the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center’s list of foods to avoid feeding pets.

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2. Brewer’s Yeast

Dr. Becker also states there is no evidence brewer’s yeast controls fleas on pets. In fact, a study released in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association1, when given as a dietary supplement to dogs at a rate of 14 grams/day, active and inactive brewer’s yeast failed to repel or kill fleas.


1 Failure of brewer's yeast as a repellent to fleas on dogs

Image: Toni Genes / Shutterstock

3. Dish Soap

“A bath with dish soap would likely remove any fleas that are currently on your pet,” says Abby Bowers, DVM, a veterinarian at the Risius Family Veterinary Service in Iowa. “Unfortunately, there are two big problems with the dish soap method of flea treatment.” The dish soap will dry out your pet’s skin and will only remove the fleas currently attached to your pet (at best).


“The problem here is that adult fleas (what we see on your pet) are only 5% of the flea population in your house,” says Dr. Bowers. “The other 95% is in the environment (carpet, bedding, furniture) as eggs, larvae, and pupae… This means that the dish soap won’t do anything for 95% of the flea population in your house.  It’s impossible to get ahead of fleas with baths.” 

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So What Kills Fleas on Dogs, Cats?

“The best advice I can offer when it comes to flea control,” says Dr. Becker, “is to ask your veterinarian for one of the newer flea-control products.” There are many different types to choose from, including oral, spot-ons and flea collars. Some medications are even effective at protecting pets from fleas for up 12 weeks. According to Dr. Becker, new flea control products are “safe when used as directed on healthy pets…and they're very effective.” 

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