Flea infestations are miserable for your dog … and a ton of work for you. So you’ll always have fleas on your radar any time you see your dog scratching.
How Do You Know Your Dog Has Fleas?
You’ll know you have a flea infestation if you see …
- Your dog scratching and biting his fur.
- Reddish-brown, thin black jumping bugs.
- Flea dirt … which looks like pepper or black specks in your dog’s fur. To be sure, brush some of the dirt off onto a moist paper towel. If it turns red or brown on the paper towel, it’s flea dirt.
- Flea eggs (little white ovals) on the rug or your dog’s bed.
- Flea bites … red pimples on your dog’s skin. These are often around the groin, belly, or base of the tail.
- Tapeworms (like grains of rice) in your dog’s poop. Dogs can get tapeworms from swallowing fleas.
When in doubt, use a flea comb to comb his hair and see if you catch any fleas (dispose of them in hot soapy water to kill them). If you find even one flea of your dog, that can rapidly become a flea infestation, One female flea lays up to 50 eggs a day!
If your dog has fleas, you want to get rid of them fast. They’re not only a nuisance for you and your dog, but they can cause worse problems … like flea allergy dermatitis (an allergic reaction to flea saliva), a tapeworm infestation, and even anemia in severe cases.
Avoid Pharmaceutical Flea Products
It’s best to avoid pharmaceutical flea treatments and preventives. These products all have risks for your dog. Most of them work by paralyzing the insects … which means they can also harm your dog’s nervous system and organs. Instead, steer clear of harmful chemical flea treatments and preventives as well as toxic flea collars.
So … here’s the best way to get rid of fleas on your dog safely.
How To Get Rid Of Dog Fleas Naturally
Fleas don’t just live on your dog … they’ll be anywhere in your home your dog hangs out. To get rid of the fleas, follow the following steps once a week until the fleas are gone. If you have other furry pets, you’ll need to treat all your animals to get rid of a flea infestation.
- Give your dog a good soapy bath with a natural shampoo, or citrus castile soap. Let the lather sit on your dog for a few minutes to kill all the fleas.
- After rinsing the soap off your dog, follow up with an apple cider vinegar (ACV) rinse made up of 1 part organic ACV to 10 parts water.
- Brush your dog from top to tail with a flea comb.
- Wash all your dog’s bedding in hot water with an unscented detergent. If your dog sleeps with you, do the same with your own bedding.
- Vacuum the entire house, paying special attention to your dog’s favorite spots, as well as gaps between floor boards.
- Sprinkle food grade diatomaceous earth (DE) on your rugs and carpets. Leave the DE down for a few hours, then thoroughly vacuum up the dead fleas.
Keep repeating this process, It can take several months because of the flea life cycle. You’ll have to keep doing it until you’ve got rid of all the flea larvae, flea eggs and adult fleas. Don’t give up!
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Get Rid Of Fleas In Your Yard
If fleas have invaded your dog and your home … they’ve invaded your yard. That means your dog can pick them up every time he goes outside. Here’s how to keep the flea population in your yard down.
- Use Nematodes
Nematodes are tiny worm-like creatures that live in soil. They help control fleas as well as other garden pests like ants, termites, and grubs. You can buy them at many garden centers or online, then just add water as directed, and spray your yard. You can add nematodes as long as temperatures are over 45 F for a few weeks.
- Mow Regularly
If you have flea infestation, it’s best to keep your lawn short and mow often.
- Grow Flea Repellent Plants
Consider growing flea repellent plants such as sage, rosemary, lemon balm, catnip, basil, lemongrass and mint. Fleas don’t like these plants, and placing some around the yard and by your doors can keep them away from your yard and your home.
- Garlic Spray
Garlic can help repel fleas from your dog (see below) and your yard. Lightly spray your yard with a garlic tea made with 8 heads of chopped garlic and 1 gallon hot water. Steep for 12 hours, strain and mist your yard. Don’t overdo it, because you don’t want to get rid of those nematodes!
As you can see, getting rid of fleas is a big job that you’ll have to do several times over. So it’s a lot easier to prevent them in the first place.
How To Prevent Fleas On Dogs
Healthy dogs aren’t attractive hosts for parasites … so keeping your dog healthy is essential. The best place to start is to feed him a whole food, raw meat based diet.
Dog Diet To Help Prevent Fleas
Boost your dog’s health and limit his flea-appeal with some of these foods and supplements …
- Sulfur-rich foods like eggs and cruciferous veggie (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage …).
- Include organ meats for a good source of B vitamins .
- Give Omega-3 fatty acids to support skin health and your dog’s immune system.
- Probiotics to support gut health and immunity.
- Garlic to help repel insects – feed fresh organic chopped garlic, giving 1/4 clove per 10 lbs of your dog’s weight.
- Apple cider vinegar – for every 25 pounds your dog weighs, give him ½ teaspoon of apple cider vinegar in his food or water.
RELATED: Why healthy dogs don’t get fleas …
Natural Flea Repellents For Dogs
Here are some things you can use on your dog to help keep the fleas away.
Apple Cider Vinegar Spray
As well as feeding your dog ACV, you can also make a spray. Mix 4 oz warm water with ¼ tsp of sea salt or pink Himalayan salt, along with 6 oz of (organic) unfiltered apple cider vinegar. Add this to a spray bottle to spray your dog’s coat and underbelly weekly. Avoid his eyes and any open wounds.
Daily Flea Repellent Spray
This DIY spray is safe to use daily on your dog. Spray your dog when he goes outside, especially around the belly, tail, legs and ears (careful spraying around the eyes).
- 1 quart of filtered water
- 1 sprig of garden sage (Salvia officinalis)
- 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
- 1 sprig of lavender
- 1 organic lemon, sliced into thin rounds
Add the water, near-boiling, to a stainless steel or glass bowl before adding the herbs and lemon. Cover the mixture and let it steep overnight before straining. Add the liquid to a spray bottle, and refrigerate.
Essential Oil Flea Spray
Canine herbalist Rita Hogan recommends some essential oils for flea prevention. To make a flea-repellent spray, mix one ounce of sweet almond oil, grape seed oil or fractionated coconut oil with 3 to 6 drops (total) of one or more of these oils.
- Eucalyptus (radiata)
- Atlantica cedar
- Clary sage
- Cedar (atlantica)
Caution: Avoid flea repellents that contain wintergreen, pennyroyal or clove essential oils. These oils are dangerous for your dog. Also, use caution with peppermint and never use it near your dog’s face. Rosemary is effective, but should not be used for dogs who suffer from seizures.
Always mix essential oils with carrier oils. Undiluted, essential oils are too strong for dogs and will likely lead to irritation.
Flea Repellent Shampoo
Instead of buying commercial flea shampoos with unsafe chemical ingredients, it’s easy to make your own. Simply add a few drops of the safe essential oils listed above to a bottle of unscented castile soap and use it when you give your dog his regular bath.
So, now you know how to get rid of fleas naturally if you get an infestation. But the best plan is to avoid them in the first place by following these flea prevention tips.