When fleas find a good meal, they alert their pesky friends, attracting the group to their latest target. Making your pet less tasty to fleas is one way to help stave off these pests. You'll need to use flea-repelling ingredients if you want to make your pets less attractive to these pests. In addition, you will want to treat fleas that have made it onto your pet, and prevent fleas from bothering your pets and family in the first place.
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You don't need store-bought solutions with synthetic chemicals to rid your pets and home of fleas. Using a few natural ingredients to make a flea shampoo, clean your house, or add to your pet's food, you can create your own homemade flea killer with natural ingredients.
Try citrus fruit baths
One way to kill, or at least rid your pet of, fleas is to give him a citrus bath or citrus bath or dip. Fleas don't like lemons especially.
Many experts recommend citrus treatments, but the ASPCA rates lemons, limes, and oranges as toxic to pets. It all depends on the amount and size of pet you have. Many commercial flea treatments are citrus-based washes, however, so you might want to give this common and popular flea repellent a try. Talk to your vet before you use any lemon products to wash your pet.
Consider trying garlic
Many experts recommend feeding your pet garlic as a way to treat fleas. This is because fleas don't nibble at your pet's skin, they suck its blood. If the blood tastes good, fleas send "alerts" to other fleas, who then come to join the buffet. If a flea finds a bad-tasting dog or cat, it will also post a bad review of this particular dining spot, so to speak. The American Kennel Club says it takes a lot of garlic to make a pet sick, but some dogs are more sensitive to garlic toxicity than others.
One way to make your dog or cat's blood taste bad to fleas is to feed your pet garlic. You'll need to start adding just a little to your pet's food to see how he reacts. Once you get to the point that your dog or cat won't eat the food, back the addition off to where she will. Use only a small amount of the ingredient first, see how it works, then consider adding a little bit more.
Some medical experts warn that garlic can be toxic to dogs and cats. This depends on the amount you feed them, the frequency, and the size of the pet. Talk to your vet before you feed garlic to your pet for a more specific recommendation for your cat or dog.
Make a vinegar solution
Vinegar doesn't kill fleas, but some sources say it wards them off since they don't like it. Use it to clean indoor and outdoor surfaces and as a homemade flea spray using half water and half vinegar. Like other popular home remedies, some experts question its effectiveness because it doesn't kill fleas. You will most likely have to try a variety of home remedies before you hit on the one or two that work for your situation. However, this safe, natural remedy is commonly recommended, so it's worth giving it a shot. Use a flea comb before and after treatment to see the effect.
Add brewer’s yeast
Many pet food companies offer products with brewer's yeast to promote good health, such as improving digestion and skin and coat health. It's a widely recommended flea treatment as well. However, there is apparently no research to support this. That doesn't mean the research conducted found it did not work, just that the researchers didn't see any improvement in their studies. If you want to try this popular flea treatment, you'll at least get the other health benefits for your cat or dog.
Try out diatomaceous earth
Another natural remedy that gardeners also use because of its effectiveness is diatomaceous earth. This white powder is made from fossilized remains of small aquatic organisms. Look for it in the garden section of home centers. It works because the silica in the substance is sharp and abrasive. First, the silica tears the flea's hard outer shell, and then dries it out, which kills them. Sprinkle it on your carpet, let it sit for a while, and then vacuum. This is a generally safe substance, but avoid inhaling it.
One size doesn’t fit all
A flea remedy that works wonders for dogs might be toxic to cats. If you have both in your home, do your homework to make sure whatever you're using on one (including commercial products) won't harm other pets.
For example, just because you put a treatment on your dog and not your cat doesn't mean your cat is safe. If they play or lounge together and the cat licks the dog, the cat can get sick.
Don’t forget your surroundings
It's important to treat yards and houses as well as pets if you want to control fleas. The fewer fleas around, the lower the chance your pet — and your family — will be plagued by them, especially during flea season.
Ehrlich Pest Control recommends creating a natural flea spray for use around the home. First, vacuum to pick up as many fleas in your carpet as possible. Treat the contents of the bag with a flea treatment, then throw it out. Wash blankets, comforters, pillows, or other fabric-covered items your dog or cat uses. Then, use a spray made from a mixture of a half-gallon of water, 1 gallon of vinegar, 16 ounces of lemon juice, and 8 ounces of witch hazel. Spray heavily on items where your pets spend time.
You can add flea-repelling plants to your yard that irritate fleas, such as garden sage, sweet basil, rosemary, thyme, marigold, and Venus flytrap. Make sure whichever plants, flowers, and shrubs you plant in your yard are not toxic to pets.
- Cornell University College of Medicine: Fleas: A Source of Torment for your Cat
- Nationwide Pet Health Zone: Garlic Toxicity and Pets
- ASPCA: Poisonous Plants
- Erlich Pest Control: Top 8 flea home remedies
- Organic Lesson: 6 Easy-to-Grow Plants that Repel Fleas & Ticks (Safe for Pets)
- Creature Companion: Yeast in Petfood
- AKC: Can Dogs Eat Garlic?
- Bug Lord: How to Use Diatomaceous Earth for Fleas