Natural Dog Flea Control Step by Step
Natural dog flea control techniques can help eliminate the seasonal itching, scratching and general misery caused by these small, blood-sucking pests.
Determine If Your Dog Has Fleas
Allergies can cause severe itching, too, so take a good look at your dog’s skin. The best place to look is at the base of the tail. Part the fur or use a flea comb. You may see adult fleas crawling on the skin or small, black particles of flea feces in the hair.
Treat Your Dog With Less Toxic Products
Now that you’ve decided that your dog has fleas, it’s time to develop a plan of attack. Most dog flea treatment techniques involve soaking your pet in toxic pesticides. The label directions give stern warnings about human skin contact—but recommend that you pour it on your dog.
Pyrethrins and D-Limonene
Less toxic options include pyrethrin, a chrysanthemum derivative and d-Limonene, a citrus industry by-product. These natural pesticides are powerful and should be used with caution, but they are far less toxic than organophosphates and carbamates found in most flea treatments.
Diatomaceous earth is another option. A chalky white powder that is simply the ground remains of fossilized algae; diatomaceous earth clings to and penetrates the flea’s exoskeleton, causing dehydration and death. Used correctly, diatomaceous earth is lethal to fleas but non-toxic to dogs.
The Neem plant (Azadirachta indica A. Juss) has been used for centuries as a mild antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and antifungal and it is now found in many natural flea remedy products. Australian researchers state “neem seed extract is a powerful insect growth regulator, a feeding deterrent and repellent with low toxicity.” Studies conducted on dogs and cats showed that “azadirachtin reduced fleas in a dose-dependent manner in flea-contaminated environments.”
Collars Make your own herbal flea collar by applying a few drops of flea repellent essential oils on a cotton collar or bandana. Try a combination of these oils:
Treat Your House
Now it’s time to clean house. Thoroughly and frequently. Vacuum everywhere but concentrate your efforts around your pet’s sleeping and living areas. Venture into the dark, damp places beloved by egg-laying fleas—particularly, the basement. Empty the vacuum cleaner bag in a sealed plastic bag to prevent any vacuumed-up eggs from hatching and reinfecting your house.
Wash your dog’s bedding in hot water and tumble in a hot dryer. Sprinkle diatomaceous earth or powdered pyrethrins on floors, bedding and carpets.
Healthy Dogs Have Fewer Fleas
Make your dog less flea-friendly by keeping her skin and coat healthy. Dry, irritated skin is more attractive to fleas. Feed your dog a good quality food and be sure it contains as few allergens as possible. Avoid foods that contain corn, wheat, soy, chemical preservatives or colorings. Add an essential fatty acid supplement to the diet to keep the skin in top shape.
Natural, non-toxic dog flea control requires some effort, but the results—a healthy dog and a flea-free home—are worthwhile.