Natural products that replace harsh or toxic chemicals hold a certain appeal. In fact, the best flea treatment for home use may contain only natural, nontoxic ingredients. However, even if a product is natural and safe to use on people, it is not automatically safe to use on dogs.
While lemon and vinegar products seem ordinary enough to use without concern, they might cause irritation, illness, or even death in some pets when used directly on their fur and skin. In addition, although they may deter fleas, they typically do not kill them.
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Lemon spray for fleas
Things like lemon juice itself won't kill fleas, but lemon essential oil may help deter fleas. That's because lemon essential oil, extracted from lemon and orange peels, contains d-limonene. This chemical is a terpene that helps repel and kill fleas. In fact, you'll often find this natural chemical in flea-control products.
To make an all-natural lemon spray for fleas around your home, quarter one or two fresh lemons and boil them in a quart of water for five minutes. Allow the lemons to steep overnight and pour the liquid into spray bottles. This will create a lemon-scented flea spray for house usage. Spray this around your home and on your pet's bedding to help deter fleas and add a fresh scent.
Lemon-based pet shampoo
The best way to get rid of fleas on your dog or cat is to bathe them using a flea shampoo. Look for one that contains lemon oil or d-limonene. These natural, lemon-based ingredients will help get rid of the fleas from your pet's coat when you use them to wash your pet. Plus, the scent will continue to deter the fleas after your pet is dry.
You can also purchase a dish soap that's lemon scented and use it to shampoo your pet. The lemon combined with the soap will kill the fleas on your pet and help wash them away. When washing your dog, add a few drops of lemon oil to his regular shampoo and use it as a natural way to get rid of fleas.
Vinegar-based flea rinse
While there is some anecdotal evidence that vinegar may help repel small amounts of fleas, there are no scientific studies to back this up. Vinegar does have some antibacterial properties that could help relieve the itchiness of flea bites, though, while discouraging their return.
Try making a diluted solution of equal parts apple cider vinegar and water and using this as a rinse after bathing your dog with a flea shampoo. The bath will get rid of fleas on your pet's coat, and the vinegar will sooth any irritation from their bites. Plus, the odor will likely help deter these small pests from returning.
Cats and essential oils
Lemon-based and vinegar-based products are both acidic in nature. It is possible that frequently applying these products to your dog directly might cause irritation of the skin. Always use caution when using lemon-based or vinegar-based products and increase the quantity or frequency of use gradually to ensure no damage occurs.
Note that essential oils, including lemon oil, can be toxic to cats. Never add lemon essential oil to your cat's coat or skin directly, as this could harm her. Instead, use the lemon spray for fleas in her environment and allow it to dry before allowing her back into the areas you've treated.
Many essential oils, like citrus oils, are generally safe for dogs in small amounts. If your dog shows any sensitivity to small amounts of lemon or vinegar products, stop using them. Any reaction that is greater than mild irritation is cause to bring your dog to the vet for treatment.
- Whole Dog Journal: Apple Cider Vinegar for Dogs
- Country Living: How to Get Rid of Fleas: 5 Effective Ways to Get Rid of Fleas in the House
- MDPI: Recent Advancements in the Control of Cat Fleas
- Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery: Disinfectant Choices in Veterinary Practices, Shelters and Households: ABCD Guidelines on Safe and Effective Disinfection for Feline Environments
- American Kennel Club: Are Essential Oils Safe for Dogs?
- Fox News: 5 Natural Solutions for Flea and Tick Prevention