Dogs attract fleas. It’s an unfortunate fact of life. You’ll find no shortage of flea control products at your local grocery or pet store, but how can you sure they’ll be safe? Is there a way to get rid of dog fleas naturally?
Here’s some information on why you need to eliminate a flea infestation as fast as you can, and some safe, natural methods to go about doing just that.
Fleas – The Basics
Fleas are nasty little critters. They not only drive pets crazy with itching, they can also lead to other issues. One of the most common is flea dermatitis. This occurs when pets are allergic to the saliva that fleas produce when they bite. Flea dermatitis makes your pet scratch constantly. This, in turn, can lead to scabs forming, and possibly skin infections.1
But that’s not the only danger a flea problem can pose.
Fleas can carry tapeworms that they pass to pets.
Tapeworms can grow as long as a foot and rob your pets of vital nutrients, leading to substantial weight loss.2 A flea infestation can be especially troublesome for young pets. They can cause a problem known as flea bite anemia, a condition that robs them of red blood cells. Flea bite anemia can be fatal in some instances if not promptly treated.3
Fleas can cause issues with humans as well. A flea bite can cause a tapeworm infestation in people. It could also result in serious illnesses, such as “murine typhus.” This disease is characterized by a rash that spreads from the chest to the arms and legs. While it can be treated with antibiotics, hospitalization may be needed if you wait too long to see a doctor.4
Fleas… and Ticks
By the way, ticks can be extremely dangerous to humans as well. They can carry Lyme disease, which affects tens of thousands of people in the U.S. each year.5 If this disease isn’t treated properly, it can cause an infection that can affect the nervous system and heart. Rocky Mountain spotted fever is another disease ticks can spread. People bitten by ticks can develop fever, rashes, and an overall feeling of being unwell.6
Natural Methods to Get Rid of a Flea Problem
Thankfully, there are many natural remedies for infestations caused by fleas and ticks. These remedies are not only safe for you and your pets, they’re also effective.
1. Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) won’t kill fleas, but it will cause them to jump off of your dog’s body. ACV makes your dog’s coat and skin slightly acidic. And fleas don’t like an acidic environment. Talk to your veterinarian first before applying ACV to your dog. But if you get the OK, you can easily make a spray.
You’ll need a spray bottle, four ounces of warm water and six ounces of ACV. You’ll also need a quarter tablespoon of sea salt. Combine the ingredients in the spray bottle, and spray the mixture on your dog once a week. Just make sure you keep it away from your dog’s eyes as well as any open wounds they may have.7
2. Using Water and a Lamp
This is a very interesting solution if you have a flea infestation in a certain room that you can close off for the night. Put a small lamp on the floor, and place a shallow pan next to it. Partially fill the pan with water, and add a small amount of dishwashing soap. Turn on the lamp, and close the door. Fleas will be attracted to the heat of the lamp, and then they’ll fall into the water, where they’ll drown. Since there’s a danger of the lamp being knocked into the water, don’t try this method if you have small children or pets who could enter the room.8
3. Diatomaceous Earth
You can find diatomaceous earth at just about any home and garden store. It’s basically crushed rocks that contain fossilized diatoms. Diatoms are microscopic organisms that once lived in rivers, lakes, and streams. Their skeletons are made of a rough substance known as silica.9
When you spread diatomaceous earth throughout your yard and fleas rub up against it, they die. Simply sprinkle the diatomaceous earth in the areas of the yard your dog frequents.
Note: You’ll need to be careful when using diatomaceous earth, however. Inhaling the dust could irritate your lungs. Wear a mask when applying.
4. Vacuum, Vacuum, Vacuum
One of the best ways to get rid of fleas in your home is to vacuum the floors regularly. Not only will you be eliminating the adult fleas, you’ll be eliminating their eggs as well. Just make sure you change out the bag each time you vacuum and take the used bags to your outside trash. Otherwise, the fleas will continue to roam through your house.10
5. Take Care of Your Dog’s Bed
You’ll need to make sure you thoroughly clean your dog’s bed once a week. If you can, wash your dog’s bed in hot, soapy water. Do this twice a week during the spring and summer, which are the worst months for fleas. You might even consider adding a small amount of apple cider vinegar during the rinse cycle to help keep new fleas from accumulating on the bedding.11
The rosemary herb could help prevent fleas from infesting your home, and you can easily make a rosemary dog rinse. Mix one teaspoon of chopped rosemary with one pint of water that’s almost at the boiling point. Let the mixture simmer for a few minutes and then wait until it cools to room temperature. Give your dog a bath using your regular shampoo, and then rinse with the rosemary/water mixture. This will do a great job of keeping fleas from getting on your pup’s coat.12
Spreading nematodes throughout your yard could be a very effective way of keeping fleas off of your pet. Nematodes are very similar to worms. They live in the soil and feed off of many kinds of insects, including ants and fleas.13 You can find packages of nematodes at your nearest garden store. Simply follow the directions on how to apply them throughout your yard.
The Last Word
There are several very effective ways to control a flea problem that don’t require the use of potentially dangerous chemicals. However, always talk to your vet before trying these methods to stay on the safe side. This will be especially important if you have very young or very old pets, or if they are taking any kinds of medications.14