No dog owner wants their dog to get fleas … but if it happens what’s better: chemical or natural flea control? Obviously, this is a no brainer …
While a flea infestation can be a nightmare, so can those chemical-based flea control products that are really harmful for your dog. Instead, we’re all about safe solutions for natural flea control, so we’ve got some tips on how you can fend off those pesky pests without hurting him in the process!
Why Pharmaceutical Flea Prevention Isn’t The Answer?
If you ask your conventional vet, she’ll happily sell you a spot-on or oral flea prevention products … but these products come with some dangerous side effects.
These pesticide products work by destroying the flea’s nervous system … but they also damage your dog’s nervous system! Some of the more serious side effects reported from both spot-on and oral flea preventives are neurological issues like seizures, uncoordinated movement and lethargy … and even death in the worst cases.
Don’t just take our word for it. In 2009, the EPA noticed an increase in adverse effects from spot-on pesticides so they studied thousands of 2008 incident reports and reported the following most common side effects of common flea products:
- Hair Loss And Color Changes
- Skin Ulceration
- Loss Of Muscle Control (ataxia)
While some of the incidents were classified as minor, it’s really scary that every product they reviewed caused some major incidents – including death![
Fleas are not worth dying for! So, how can you safely protect your dog?
The good news is there are many natural flea control alternatives to help you avoid these toxic products that can risk your dog’s health and even his life.
Choose Safe And Natural Flea Control
Here are 8 tips to help you find the safest and most effective natural flea control for your dog:
#1 Look For All Natural Products
But … this is really important: don’t believe the label just because it says it’s “natural.” Manufacturers know dog owners want natural products so they use that word very loosely, and some ingredients aren’t natural at all!
#2 Avoid These Ingredients
Even with products labeled “natural,” check the ingredients carefully to make sure there are no artificial additives or preservatives. Some “natural” products contain things like sodium lauryl sulfate that can irritate the eyes and skin and, if inhaled, can be toxic to your dog’s organs. If the ingredient name sounds like a chemical, look it up. Two good sources are:
- The Environmental Working Group website: EWG has searchable information on toxicity of various chemicals that are used in cosmetics.
- The National Pesticide Information Center provides information on many pesticide ingredients, including inactive ingredients.
#3 Read The Warnings
Of course, avoid any products that carry warnings in case you get the product on your own skin. If it isn’t safe for you, it’s not safe for your dog!
#4 Use Essential Oils Safely
Essential oils can be great for natural flea control … but use caution with products that contain undiluted essential oils. Essential oils should always be diluted with a carrier oil before using them on your dog. Examples of carrier oils are:
- Sweet almond oil
- Grapeseed oil
- Jojoba oil
- Coconut oil
- Apricot kernel oil
- Avocado oil
Chances are, if the product comes in a tiny bottle, the oils are undiluted so dilute them yourself before putting them on your dog. Here are some essential oils that are safe flea repellents when diluted:
- Cedar (atlantica)
- Eucalyptus radiate
- Clary sage
#5 Only Choose Water Soluble Sprays
Don’t use water-suspended essential oil products, because essential oils aren’t water soluble. You’ll end up with blobs of oil floating on the water because the oil won’t dissolve or combine with the water.
#6 Avoid Clove, Wintergreen, Geraniol Or Thyme
Stay away from essential oils like clove, wintergreen, geraniol and thyme, which are sometimes sold as flea repellents but can be potentially harmful to sensitive dogs. Citronella oil is also in many pest repellents but can cause skin irritation or gastrointestinal problems for some dogs.
#7 No Pennyroyal Either
Avoid any product with pennyroyal, which is an effective flea repellent but can be highly toxic for dogs.
[Related] Pennyroyal = good for fleas, bad for your dog! [Read more on why to stay away here!]
#8 Pay Attention To Your Dog
If she objects to being sprayed with the product you’ve chosen, stop using it. I’ve noticed my dogs get really uncomfortable if I spray them with a couple of the essential oil based sprays but they stand quietly for cedar oil based sprays.
Dogs can be sensitive to some essential oils, so it’s best to keep an eye open and if she doesn’t like it, don’t use it.
Natural Flea Control: A Healthy Dog Is The Best Defense!
Finally, remember that healthy dogs aren’t good hosts for parasites like fleas.
Feeding a raw diet full of whole foods, avoiding unnecessary vaccinations, avoiding drugs and chemicals in your dog’s environment can help make your dog much less attractive to fleas.
Getting rid of adult fleas as well as their eggs, larvae and pupae, means spending weeks bathing and combing your dog, vacuuming every inch of your home, steam cleaning your rugs and carpets, washing your dog’s bedding (and yours if he sleeps with you!) and even spraying your yard.
Obviously it’s a much better idea to avoid fleas in the first place and stop an infestation before it happens. These tips will help you prevent fleas naturally!
For more suggestions and recipes to keep fleas off your dog, read our Best Home Remedies For Fleas … and good luck!