Dogs are often said to be man’s best friend, and many people love having dogs as live-in companions. Truly, these animals are a savvy homeowner’s dream: With their protective instincts and loud barking at strangers, dogs can scare off intruders and help keep your home and family safer. And what can beat that wagging tail and welcoming canine grin when you return home after a long day?
But if there’s one thing homeowners can’t stand about their furry friends, it’s their tendency to host thriving bands of tiny, bloodsucking pests. That’s right, fleas! These irritating insects aren’t just annoying—they can actually be dangerous, since they can carry diseases and cause serious health problems for animals and humans alike. Fortunately, there are home remedies for dog fleas that can help keep both fleas and ticks at bay.
In this post, we will explore some low-impact ways to manage flea infestations in your home or on your pet. If you are safety conscious and prefer to avoid harsh chemicals when you can, these methods are for you. Many of these alternatives use simple, natural household ingredients that you probably already have on hand.
All of the following natural flea remedies are pet- and kid-friendly, so you can have peace of mind as you protect your loved ones from these parasitic pests. That being said, do use caution with the following remedies, and observe your pet carefully for any adverse reactions to the ingredients. If, after using one of the following flea remedies, you notice your dog seems ill or is behaving differently, stop using the product immediately and consult with your veterinarian to find out whether other types of intervention might be needed.
Apple Cider Vinegar for Fleas
It’s great for cleaning, hair care and skincare, and as a yummy addition to salad dressings, but did you know you can also use apple cider vinegar for fleas? That’s right: apple cider vinegar is a natural flea preventative. (Is there anything this miracle stuff can’t do?) Bonus—apple cider vinegar is inexpensive and easy to find. So how do you use it to keep fleas away from Fido or even Fluffy, if fleas bother your beloved kitty?
If you’ve ever tasted apple cider vinegar, you know it has a strong, sour flavor and smell. Those are actually the qualities that make it a good flea repellent, too, because the insects are repulsed by the vinegar’s scent and taste. There are several ways you can use apple cider vinegar as natural flea control.
In The Bath
Pour a half-cup or so of apple cider vinegar into the bath water when bathing your dog. Note that apple cider vinegar is better used as a flea preventative than as a treatment for an existing flea infestation. If you do choose to use it as a treatment for fleas, you can use up to a cup of it in your dog’s bath water. Just be sure the vinegar is well diluted, in case the bath water accidentally gets into your dog’s eyes. Undiluted vinegar can also sting broken skin, which your dog may have if he has been scratching a lot or has allergic dermatitis due to flea bites.
In A Spray Bottle
Mix equal parts apple cider vinegar and water in a spray bottle and spray the solution onto your dog’s fur, either when you spot a flea or, if you want to use it as a deterrent, before your dog heads outside. Again, be very careful not to spray this mixture into your dog’s eyes, nose or mouth, as it can be highly irritating.
In The Water Bowl
Add a couple of tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to your pet’s bowl of drinking water. The flavor of even a small amount of vinegar in water is noticeable, and many dogs won’t like the taste at first. You can start by adding a very small amount—just a teaspoon, or even less—and gradually increase the amount over time, so your dog can get used to it slowly. Many people swear by the combination of topical and oral apple cider vinegar use for repelling dog fleas.
Homemade Flea Shampoo
You can also use apple cider vinegar to make your own homemade flea shampoo. Start with one part apple cider vinegar, one part baby shampoo and two parts water. This is a gentle way to apply the vinegar directly to your pet’s fur and skin, and it will leave behind enough vinegary fragrance to repel fleas. Let the mixture soak in for up to five minutes before rinsing it away; during that time, use a fine-toothed comb to remove any dead fleas from your dog’s hair. Apple cider vinegar is also helpful in soothing skin irritations and making rough skin smooth, though it can sting raw or broken skin at first.
Using Citrus to Repel Fleas
Just as with apple cider vinegar, fleas are repelled by the sharp, pungent scent and flavor of citrus juices, especially lemon juice. That makes lemon juice one of the great natural home remedies for dog fleas. Using it to repel fleas is simple:
- Method 1: Add a cup of lemon juice, either fresh or bottled, to the bath water when you’re bathing your dog. As with apple cider vinegar, be extra careful to avoid getting any of the water–juice solution into your dog’s eyes, as it could sting. It might also sting your dog’s skin if he has sensitive, itchy areas due to flea bites.
- Method 2: Fill a spray bottle with lemon juice and spritz it onto your dog’s brush before brushing Fido’s hair. Your dog will smell wonderful to you, but not to fleas—which means he won’t make a very attractive host for any fleas that might be seeking a place to settle down.
Note: Do not use lemon or orange essential oils on your pet’s fur or skin. Many animals, especially cats, can have a bad reaction to many types of essential oil, including citrus oils. It’s much safer to use lemon or orange juice as a natural flea repellent.
Both apple cider vinegar and lemon juice are great home remedies for dog fleas, but they do have a down side, which is the simple fact that you have to reapply them frequently—sometimes multiple times a day—to keep them at their optimal level of effectiveness.
Since most natural flea remedies don’t have long-lasting effects, they’re often best used together. And any flea treatment, whether natural or chemical, DIY or professionally applied, works best when you treat your home, yard and pets all at the same time. With that in mind, let’s look at some other home remedies for dog fleas that you can use in addition to the above methods to keep fleas in your home and yard at bay.
Best Ways To Get Rid of Fleas In House
One of the best ways to get rid of fleas in your house is very simple: Keep your floors, bedding and furniture clean with regular washing, vacuuming and disinfecting. Flea eggs and larvae can live in carpet for quite a while without needing an animal host for feedings, so it’s a good idea to vacuum regularly, especially wherever Fido and any other furry friends spend time. You can also use the wand attachment on your vacuum cleaner to get into the small crevices between couch cushions and behind furniture. Steam-cleaning rugs and carpeted areas several times a year is also an effective way of getting rid of flea eggs and larvae.
As far as human and pet bedding, it’s a good idea to wash all bedding at least once a week. Be sure to use the hottest water possible when washing, and don’t skimp on dryer time, either. High temperatures along with the tossing motions encountered in the washer and dryer can kill off any fleas that might find their way into your clothes or bedding.
Home Remedies For Fleas In Yard
Rats, raccoons, squirrels and other wild animals all make excellent flea hosts, and these wild animals are often flea-infested. When it’s warm enough, fleas can also survive for quite a while in damp, shady outdoor areas, even without an animal host. This is why it’s so easy for dogs, cats and any other household pets that spend time outdoors to pick up fleas that have been living outside, and bring them back indoors.
This is why it’s important to eliminate fleas from your yard along with your pets and indoor living areas. Here are the best ways to keep fleas away from your yard:
- Clear out areas where dead leaves and undergrowth accumulate, so fleas won’t have any warm, damp, shady places to hide.
- Clear away fallen tree limbs, hollow logs, piles of branches and anyplace else where wild animals might make a nest.
- Use diatomaceous earth—a soft, powdered form of sedimentary rock that is a great, non-toxic, natural insect killer—to kill fleas in your yard. You can sprinkle diatomaceous earth around your porch and any dry areas of your yard, but avoid damp or wet areas, as moisture makes this product ineffective. Re-apply this product every week for at least a full month to increase the likelihood that outdoor fleas in all their life cycle stages are eliminated.
ABC Can Protect Fido From Fleas
When home remedies for dog fleas just aren’t enough, ABC Home & Commercial Services is here to help. Our pest control specialists are experts in flea and tick control, including managing and preventing flea infestations. We will work with you to find an effective and customized solution for your flea and tick problems—including pet- and kid-friendly solutions that work for you and your family.