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5 Ways to Get Rid of Fleas Without Chemicals


Dr. Mark is a veterinarian. He also trains dogs, mostly large breeds and those that suffer from aggression problems.

Living on the beach and owning a dog, I was reluctant to put chemicals on my dog that might affect her health and damage our environment. According to the distributors, fipronil (Frontline) is not soluble in water and should not wash off. Really? Even with daily swims in the ocean?

I have never been a big proponent of subjecting my dog to fleas, but I'm also reluctant to subject her to the “safe” chemicals—which are often applied much more frequently than the labels recommend. (The ASPCA has even issued a warning about overusing the spot-on treatments.)

I can’t just get rid of the fleas in the environment, because every time she plays with the neighborhood dogs on the beach she gets infested again. Even if I had trusted those chemicals on my dog, the cost was still unreasonable. I wanted, and she needed, something different.

I wanted a non-toxic method of flea control that would provide her with some relief. Here are a few of the best.

Non-Toxic Methods of Flea Control

  1. Comb
  2. Bathing and Vinegar
  3. Garlic
  4. Diotemaceous Earth
  5. Nematodes

1. The Flea Comb

This is natural, simple, cheap, and easy to use, but if you do not like dealing with fleas and are upset when you notice even a few, this is not your best choice.

If you do not choose to go the more expensive route of natural control, getting control of fleas is a lot of work. (That is why there are so many flea control chemicals on the market! Dog ownership prior to the spot on-drugs was a major challenge.)

If you choose not to use those chemicals the first step in getting control of the fleas is a good flea comb. You can run the comb through her hair several times a day and remove almost all of the adults. I like to drop them in dishwashing soap as I comb them out so that they cannot jump off and get on to her later. If you can keep the teeth of the comb moist as you run it through the hair you will have a lot better “catch”.

(Some clients hate the sight of fleas, so this method does not work for everyone or all types of dogs.)

2. Bathing and White Vinegar

You can control the flea population (but not totally eliminate it) by bathing your dog. There are several reasons that this only helps.

How Bathing and White Vinegar Help Eliminate Fleas

  • Adult fleas only spend part of their lives on the dog, and the majority of fleas out there are still eggs, larva, and pupae. If she has a special place she likes to lie you can try washing it with hot water every week.
  • You can also try vacuuming her bedding or wherever she sleeps to pick up eggs and larva.
  • Try keeping the grass short and if it is dry and bright fewer fleas will survive.
  • You can try to spray her down with vinegar after shampooing to provide a more long-lasting deterrent.

Unfortunately, the adults only spend a small portion of their lives on the dog, jumping on and sucking blood whenever they feel the need. One female lays between 400-500 eggs where your dog likes to sleep. Those larva develop and can pupate and be around for a year so it is really impossible to get rid of this problem with just a comb, bathing, or a natural flea spray like vinegar.

Even Dr. Bruce Fogle, a veterinarian who writes about natural dog care, recommends cleaning with a borate solution to reduce the flea population in the carpets. (Don’t use laundry grade borax though because it can cause poisoning.)

3. Garlic

Feeding garlic may also be helpful and, if given with Brewers yeast, works even more effectively.

Unfortunately no one can tell you the exact amount to give, and since no one can patent garlic no big pharmaceutical companies are doing research in this area. A clove of garlic is enough for a 10 to 30 pound dog but larger dogs can eat more safely.

Several web sites out there claim that garlic is toxic. They are not correct. It is helpful, not harmful, but will probably not eliminate your flea problem by itself.

4. Diotemaceous Earth

Another alternative is diatomaceous earth. It is actually made up of tiny skeletons that dry out the outer layer of the fleas so that they will die from dehydration. It is a natural product but can still cause problems if it is inhaled so you have to be careful when applying it.

The product is spread around the yard like a chemical flea powder and here in the tropics, where it rains almost every day, I have not had good results. It is a lot more appropriate for people who live in an arid area or have their pets confined to the house; some owners even put it right on the dogs skin, like a chemical flea powder.

It can irritate the eyes so be careful!

5. Nematodes

If you have tried several of these procedures and nothing has worked there are also nematodes for sale that will eat the young fleas before they ever develop and jump onto your dog. Nematodes are tiny round worms and, although some types are parasites, there are others that eat fleas and the other bugs in your garden. Nematodes are a great option for an outside dog that spends time in the yard but the nematodes need to be sprayed (reapplied) periodically because they die off.

Other Alternatives

Are you amazed at all the choices? There are more products available but these are 5 of the best and most effective.

Like most things in life, a lot of things are available when no one thing works well. If you can live with the problem, and want to subject your dog to the itching, a flea comb is the easiest and cheapest method to control these bugs. If you can´t even stand the idea of a flea being on your dog, the chemical flea control products are most effective, but also the most dangerous.

If you want to fight, these are a few of the alternatives. Some dogs are really miserable when they have this problem, so go ahead and get started today.

Questions & Answers

Question: What is the water-vinegar ratio for flea repellent? Will the vinegar mix work for cats too?

Answer: I use a 50% solution (half water, half vinegar) because it is mild enough to be used in the ears for cleaning. If the dog has open sores on the skin from scratching it will burn, so be careful.

I do not use it on cats. Cats lick themselves, and the ingestion of too much vinegar will affect the bodies pH.

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on March 14, 2020:

Hi Mary, even with the guinea fowl I have a lot of ticks here so I am using Topline too. It is okay with fleas but may or may not clear up a bad infestation.

The best thing is to bathe often but I realize that is a problem. If you can do so for two or three times a week, and then use a vinegar spray on after, the problem will clear up pretty fast, in a few weeks.

If you use the topline and bathing, just do not bathe for a few days after the topline. It will wash off.

I hope all else is well up in Ceara. We never did find the Hus. rototiller so ended up getting a Toyoma. So far so good.

Mary Wickison from Brazil on March 11, 2020:

Hi Dr. Mark,

My vira lata has a problem with fleas. I have put in the lake washing her with a flea soap, dusted her with flea powder, used talfon, and brushed her. I have tried vinegar water although she gets sores from scratching and I don't want it to burn her.

Perhaps I am just not keeping up with the program. How often should I be washing and using a vinegar rinse?

Also would using Top Line help? She doesn't have ticks, only fleas (maybe mites from the chickens) but I only see fleas on her.

Teresa on May 28, 2019:

Vinegar works

Victoria Lynn from Arkansas, USA on July 21, 2013:

I need to try spraying vinegar to help with fleas! I had never heard of that! I like trying natural products.

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on July 21, 2013:

Sheila, thanks again for sharing. I have heard some good things about the apple cider vinegar too, so you may want to give that a try. It is not available where I live so I made organic cashew vinegar, still awaiting results!

Becky, thanks for sharing your experience. I understand about the flea comb on your Sheltie--I run a comb through my Pit Bulls coat every night but it will not work on my Havanese.

Becky Katz from Hereford, AZ on July 21, 2013:

Interesting, as my dog has had a really tough time with fleas this last two years. I have used all of the methods you mentioned and none of them have worked. I even used them all at once. I finally found something that has worked and for the first time in two years, he is not scratching. His hair is growing back in and we are highly pleased. Concertis is what we used and I know it is not natural but neither is a miserable dog. The Advantage and Frontline made no difference at all, and they did make him sick, so they stopped soon.

I would give him brewers yeast and it contains garlic, I powdered him with diatomaceous earth (that is what killed my father, so I had a hard time doing that). I treated the yard and sprayed/vacuumed the whole house. I washed his bedding in hot water and sprayed him with vinegar water. I combed him, which got easier when his hair fell out; he is a sheltie. Nothing helped and my poor baby was miserable. Now he is starting to play again, he didn't have time too because of the scratching.

Sheila Brown from Southern Oklahoma on July 21, 2013:

I'm so glad I found this hub. Living in the country, both of my dogs have problems with fleas. I don't like using the strong "spot on" chemical alternatives and they really don't seem to work well anyway. I didn't know how much garlic to give my dogs, so I do have an idea now. I will also try the vinegar and water spray. Voting this up, useful, interesting and sharing! :)

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on July 18, 2012:

Do you mean the stalk of the garlic (as the green part)?

Cat R from North Carolina, U.S. on July 18, 2012:

I also heard that a fly light/buzz (those electric things you plug into an outlet to attract flies) may work. Supposedly the fleas are attracted by the light and get 'buzzed' just like flies would. Never tried it, tough.

Somebody told me it's actually the green part of the garlic that is dangerous. I always added garlic to my dog's food and will definitely try the brewer's yeast. Living in the country I am VERY interested in anything that will work against fleas and ticks.

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on June 23, 2012:

Actually I have heard of both so maybe that indicates none of them are perfect. One speaker (I think he has a video on Youtube) recommends adding a little vinegar to water, and I talked to a girl from Britain that uses apple cider vinegar in the same way and she said it works really well. I have used it as a repellent after a bath. You put it in a spray bottle and just coat the dog. Let me know if this works on the fleas there in Florida. I hear they are especially tough to get rid of!

Melissa Flagg COA OSC from Rural Central Florida on June 23, 2012:

I love your hubs DrMark. I didn't know vinegar worked on fleas. Is it like a vinegar water mix, or straight vinegar that you spray on the dog? My poor puppy doesn't respond to frontline or advantage, and the garlic worked a bit, but it didn't get rid of them, so I'd like to try the vinegar. :D

Great hub, and packed full of awesome info, you're hubs really are awesome. So I voted it as such :D

wetnosedogs from Alabama on June 10, 2012:

Aw, that was nice of you DrMark1961.

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on June 10, 2012:

I found the avon artilce and added the link

somethgblue from Shelbyville, Tennessee on June 09, 2012:

and here I thought your dog was a metaphor for yourself and you were too embarrassed to admit you have fleas. Hey you get used to them and they actually will help you to isolate from other humans.

wetnosedogs from Alabama on June 09, 2012:

I have heard or read somewhere that some groomers use Avon Skin-So-Soft as a last rinse. Fleas don't like Avon. Use 1 part skin-so-soft to 5 parts water.

My oldest female has allergies and recently I was instructed to give her more baths. I always finish with spraying on Avon and rub it in her coat. It relieves itching(I had to change her food once again).

Hope this helps.

I did a hub on Avon skin-so-soft.

Recently PetSupermarket opened here and they even sell Avon Skin-So-Soft!

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on June 09, 2012:

Thanks for all the comments. I have heard a lot about the Avon product, is there something I can add about it for readers of this article?

Thomas Silvia from Massachusetts on June 08, 2012:

A very well written hub with lots of valuable information within it.

Vote up and more !!!

Angela Brummer from Lincoln, Nebraska on June 08, 2012:

Another fantastic hub that will be shared!

wetnosedogs from Alabama on June 08, 2012:

So much information-this is great. We've had a mild winter, so that didn't help with the fleas. But I use brewer's yeast and garlic tablets for dogs, bathe my dogs with baby shampoo(gentler,and I bathe them more often in the warm weather, so it isn't so irritating on their skin. After drying them off, I spray them with avon's skin-so-soft. But always willing to try other ways, so I enjoyed reading this.

Shared this hub.

brewskitimeguy from Maine on June 06, 2012:

VOTED UP...BATTLE FLEAS ALL THE TIME WHERE I LIVE...NEVER WIN

Joe Njenga from Nairobi Kenya on June 04, 2012:

Very interesting and well written hub. I have voted it up!

mwilliams66 from Left Coast, USA on June 03, 2012:

Really interesting information DrMark. I had no idea about nematodes. I have been using the spot on treatment and really never felt good about it. It words but I just don't like the thought of putting chemicals on my pets. Thanks for including so many alternatives.

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on June 02, 2012:

Thanks for the comment on the nematodes, I will add something--for me it is like saying "flea" or "worm". Good luck with your new puppy Pamela, they can really make life more interesting!

somethgblue from Shelbyville, Tennessee on June 02, 2012:

Good article and very helpful however being forced to google nematodes took me away from the article when a sentence explaining what they are would have been pretty easy.

Pamela Dapples from Just Arizona Now on June 02, 2012:

Excellent information. I didn't know half of it. I've been lucky with my cat because I started combing her years ago -- once a day -- and kept it up just because she liked it. Somehow or another, even though she would roll around outside in the dirt several times a week (and I'd wash her down) she didn't get fleas. Twice a year we went to the vet -- and the vet would comment that she has no fleas.

It's good to know of these other methods as I'm getting a dog (again) soon.

Voting up, useful and interesting.


Fiprofortplus

Flea infestations are one of the most common parasite problems on pets. To remove pet fleas from your pet and house completely it is very important to attack the all life stages of fleas to get rid of them.

There are a number of methods to prevent pet flea attacks on your pet. You can also take an expert advice of your known vet to get fleas off your pet.

Here are the 5 simple ways to prevent and eliminate flea infestations on your pet.

  1. Flea Sprays

You can use flea sprays to kill all life stages of fleas on your pet. There are various sprays available in the market. Choose a good quality spray such as Frontline Spray For Dogs And Cats, which kills fleas and make your furry pet flea-free.

  1. Flea Collars

You can use flea collars to eradicate fleas on your pet. There are two types of flea collars available in the market. The first type of flea collar emits gases, which are toxic to fleas and kills them on your adorable pet’s head and neck. The second type of flea collar is more effective which emits toxins and slays all fleas on your pet.

  1. Flea Shampoos

You can also try flea shampoos to get rid of fleas on your pet. Choose a quality flea shampoo carefully that will attack all life stages of fleas and kill them.

  1. Oral Medicines

It is one of the most effective pet care treatments to prevent your pet from flea infestations. If your pet has a heavy infestation, you must take your pet to a well-known certified vet. Your vet will give some oral medicines to your pet that disturb flea’s life cycle and protect it from infestations.

  1. Spot Treatments

Spot treatments directly attack the nervous system of fleas and kill them immediately. These treatments contain some chemicals which slay eggs, larvae and adult fleas and make your pet flea-free.

You may also try one of the most effective spot treatments such as Frontline Spot On For Medium Dogs to kill these annoying parasites. It is a good quality dog care treatment which controls the attack of fleas on your lovely dog and makes it flea-free without side-effects.


Fiprofortplus

Flea infestations are one of the most common parasite problems on pets. To remove pet fleas from your pet and house completely it is very important to attack the all life stages of fleas to get rid of them.

There are a number of methods to prevent pet flea attacks on your pet. You can also take an expert advice of your known vet to get fleas off your pet.

Here are the 5 simple ways to prevent and eliminate flea infestations on your pet.

  1. Flea Sprays

You can use flea sprays to kill all life stages of fleas on your pet. There are various sprays available in the market. Choose a good quality spray such as Frontline Spray For Dogs And Cats, which kills fleas and make your furry pet flea-free.

  1. Flea Collars

You can use flea collars to eradicate fleas on your pet. There are two types of flea collars available in the market. The first type of flea collar emits gases, which are toxic to fleas and kills them on your adorable pet’s head and neck. The second type of flea collar is more effective which emits toxins and slays all fleas on your pet.

  1. Flea Shampoos

You can also try flea shampoos to get rid of fleas on your pet. Choose a quality flea shampoo carefully that will attack all life stages of fleas and kill them.

  1. Oral Medicines

It is one of the most effective pet care treatments to prevent your pet from flea infestations. If your pet has a heavy infestation, you must take your pet to a well-known certified vet. Your vet will give some oral medicines to your pet that disturb flea’s life cycle and protect it from infestations.

  1. Spot Treatments

Spot treatments directly attack the nervous system of fleas and kill them immediately. These treatments contain some chemicals which slay eggs, larvae and adult fleas and make your pet flea-free.

You may also try one of the most effective spot treatments such as Frontline Spot On For Medium Dogs to kill these annoying parasites. It is a good quality dog care treatment which controls the attack of fleas on your lovely dog and makes it flea-free without side-effects.


Before you begin flea treatment in the yard

You need to get rid of fleas on your pets first before you move on to the yard. When you have successfully done that, you can start treating the yard. Keep your pets indoors when you do this, or else you risk them being attacked by fleas once more and you would have to start over again.

Start by cleaning the yard, making it easier to get to those difficult areas and ensuring that no fleas get away from you. Mow the lawn and remove organic debris. The fleas are often attracted to places near debris, like composting areas or piles of grass cuttings or leaves. Bagging and raking these areas disturb the fleas natural habitat, making it difficult for them to breed and easy for your flea treatment products to penetrate and kill the fleas. Move pet toys and all other objects lying around in the yard. They make excellent hiding spots for the fleas, and unless you want your newfound friends to stick around, get rid of the clutter once and for all.


What Are the Best Ways to Prevent Fleas on Dogs Naturally?

1. Essential Oils

There are a number of essential oils that can be used to prevent fleas on dogs. These include citronella, eucalyptus, peppermint, lavender, tea tree and rosemary.

But keep in mind that essential oils should never be used internally, nor should you ever apply them directly to your dog’s skin. Instead, mix a few drops in a spray bottle of water to dilute, and lightly mist your dog’s coat with the solution.

This can be done a couple of times per day, and you want to do this in an area where your dog doesn’t tend to lick, as some of these oils aren’t meant to be ingested.

Likewise, you can apply a few drops of the oil to your dog’s collar (or bandana) for a natural alternative to a flea collar.

2. Apple Cider Vinegar

Fleas are attracted to a certain environment, and apple cider vinegar works because it regulates your dog’s PH levels to the point where it’s optimal for your pooch’s health, yet distasteful to fleas.

Using six parts of the vinegar to four parts of water, you can make this into a spray, or use it during bath time. Interestingly, you can also incorporate apple cider vinegar into your dog’s diet to help prevent fleas.

Mix a teaspoon in with every four cups of drinking water, and the problem should take care of itself. This is a great method, because it not only helps with repelling fleas, but it has a lot of benefits for your dog’s skin and coat as well.

3. Coconut Oil

Another great addition to your dog’s diet for repelling fleas is coconut oil. This oil is so effective due to its high lauric acid content, which is a key ingredient in combatting fleas and protecting the coat from damage.

It’s also a great moisturize for dry and irritated skin, and it can even combat intestinal parasites when mixed sparingly with food. For more information, make sure to check out our post on coconut oil for fleas.

4. Brewer’s Yeast

This ingredient (commonly found in beer and bread) is a rich source of B Vitamins, which causes your dog to develop a unique smell that you’ll probably won’t notice, but fleas hate.

Either give it to your pup in treat form or add it to his food (1/2 tsp for small dogs and up to 1 full tsp for large dogs.)

Besides having other benefits, like regulating the digestive system and improving coat and skin health, it also helps with keeping your dog nourished and healthy, which makes him less attractive to fleas.

5. Lemon Juice

Fleas don’t like citrus smell. Therefore, this is an inexpensive, easy and completely non-toxic way to prevent them from jumping on your dog.

Squeeze the juice from half a lemon and mix it with two cups of water, then use it with a little bit of your regular dog shampoo during routine bath time.

You can also dip your dog’s flea comb into fresh lemon juice for the same effect.

6. Baking Soda

Regular vacuuming is one of the best ways to prevent fleas, as it helps remove them as well as their eggs, which may be burrowed in carpets or rugs. One way to greatly enhance the effectiveness of vacuuming is to integrate baking soda into the routine.

Simply sprinkle baking soda right out of the box onto the carpet or furniture, and rub with a hard brush to be sure it gets down into the fibers, then vacuum it up until there’s no residue left.

Tip: You can use salt much in the same way as baking soda. Sprinkle it onto the surface, then allow it to sit for 24-48 hours before vacuuming it up.

7. Dimethicone Earth

This is a soft, naturally occurring substance made up of fossilized aquatic organisms called diatoms. The cell walls are made up of silica, which is able to cut through the exoskeletons of fleas, drying them out rather than poisoning them.

Just be sure to purchase the food-safe quality, which is non-toxic both to you and your dog. Also, you may want to wear gloves when handling, so as not to dry your skin out.

Sprinkle the DE on your couches, carpets, rugs, dog beds, etc. and leave for 2-3 days, then vacuum the powder up. This ensures that both the fleas and their eggs have been destroyed.

Repeat as needed, and the fleas should be gone.

8. Neem Oil

Found in some pet shops and natural food stores, neem oil is a natural pesticide extracted from the neem tree.

While it’s not as well known as some of the other remedies found here, it’s highly effective when diluted in water (1 part oil to 10 part water) and made into a spray or added to your dog’s shampoo.

9. Cedar Chips

Fleas are naturally repelled by cedar, and though the oil is certainly effective, it can be toxic to dogs and other pets. The chips, however, are also highly effective at deterring fleas, and are much safer.

You can use them around the yard where your dog plays, or even put it inside the lining of his bed to help keep fleas away. But be aware that the smell can be overwhelming for some dogs, and in hunting dogs, it can temporarily confuse their sense of smell.

10. Flea Sachet

Maybe your dog is afraid of water, or otherwise doesn’t appreciate having his fur sprayed with oils. You can still utilize the flea-repelling power of essential oils and other natural remedies by making a flea sachet and replacing it once a month or so.

All you need to do is use some sort of breathable fabric, like cheesecloth or muslin, and fill it with things like lavender buds, peppermint flakes, lemon peels, cedar chips or even cotton balls saturated with the essential oils mentioned above.

This sachet can be kept near your dog’s bed or sleeping area to prevent flea infestations.

Do you know other safe ways to prevent fleas on dogs? Tell us in the comments!

Li-ran is the Founder and Executive Editor at PuppyTip. He is a holistic pet parent and believes that dogs can teach us more than we could ever teach them. He also loves cooking, especially for his dog, Richie!


Watch the video: Vinegar Kills Fleas - How To Use This Natural Flea Killer (September 2021).