5 1/2 Tips to Beat Fleas Naturally
By the end of the summer, fleas often become a nuisance for our pets. Sometimes, the situation can become life threatening. One important principle to understand is that in temperate climates the problem really begins in the spring, when the fleas first emerge. They reproduce during the warm months and are at peak population in the fall.
Flea bite dermatitis is the most common allergy in dogs. The bite of just one flea can make your pet itch for 2 weeks. Often a rash will break out on the tail base or groin area. Don’t be too sure that your pet does not have fleas.
Topical, chemical flea treatments only kill the fleas after they bite. That is too late if your pet is allergic, although these medications do help stop flea infestations. I have many concerns about products to be applied topically on pets when the label warns against skin contact for you.
There is no silver bullet for flea prevention from a holistic standpoint. A multi-pronged approach is necessary. Here are 5 steps to help keep your pet comfy.
- Keep your pet healthy. Flea prevention begins with a truly healthy pet. A strong pet with a vigorous constitution is less susceptible to any parasite. Of course the foundation for a healthy pet is a balanced, raw diet. (There are some who will tell you that a healthy pet never gets parasites, but in my experience, that often is not the case.) Some people have had success with supplementing their pets with garlic and/or brewer’s yeast. Remember that even a little garlic can be toxic to cats. Dogs can handle about a clove per 50 pounds.
- Treat your yard with nematodes. Ultimately, our pets contact fleas from the out of doors, so this is an obvious place to begin flea control. Even if your pet roams far and wide, setting up a buffer zone right around the house will help stop a problem.For the treatment of your yard, I recommend the use of beneficial nematodes. This natural flea control is safe and effective. Nematodes are microscopic worms that feed on the larvae of fleas and other insect pests. They are totally harmless to people, animals, and insects that are not harmful to the lawn and garden.The best part is that these nematodes cause no problems of their own. If there are no insects for them to eat, they die off. You don’t have to worry about the toxic effects that chemicals can have on animals, well water, and the environment.
- Treat your pet with essential oils. Another means of keeping fleas off your pet is to use a natural, topical treatment that repels fleas. There are many flea sprays available made with essential oils such as citronella, pennyroyal, and others that give off a smell that repels insects. As a bonus, this flea product actually smells nice, unlike many chemical dips and sprays. The down side is that if you can’t smell it, it isn’t working, which means these sprays need to be applied frequently.
- Treat your house with diatomaceous earth. For every flea you find on your pet, there are 10 more in the immediate environment. These prolific creatures lay hundreds of eggs each day. If your pet has fleas and comes into your house, then there are flea larvae in your carpet and furniture. A natural way to combat fleas in the house is to sprinkle diatomaceous earth into the carpeting to desiccate (dry out) the flea larvae and eggs.
- Use a flea comb. A final natural flea tip is to get a flea comb and use it daily on your pet. A flea comb has finely spaced teeth that can pull the fleas and loose fur off your pet. This technique can serve as an early detection method allowing you to really jump on a flea infestation before it gets out of hand.
Make Your Own Natural Lemon Flea Dip
Here is a simple safe formula to make your own natural flea dip. Thinly slice one whole lemon, peel and all. Add it to one pint of near-boiling water and let steep over night. The next day, sponge the solution onto your pet’s skin and let it dry. You can repeat the procedure daily for severe flea problems.
Lemons are a source of natural flea-killing substances such as d-limonene plus other healing ingredients. Be careful not to get the solution in your pet’s eyes and do not apply to irritated skin.
What natural remedies have you found that really work against fleas?
Where can I buy the worms?
We have them at our office. The brand name is “Scan Mask.” Otherwise check organic gardening stores or web sites.
Great topic. None of want fleas around and none of us want to be using something potentially toxic to our animals. As Dr. Doug says, building health is the most important and effective way to prevent fleas, even for people living in the south, or on my Maryland coastal areas (lots and lots of fleas there). I do have some more tips for you in a kindle book, FLEAS BE GONE: A Holistic Veterinarian’s Guide to Natural Flea Control. (You do not need a kindle reader to get it!)
Thanks Dr. Christina – I bet you have some great ideas!