Natural flea prevention for dogs
Fleas are a biting parasite and can cause symptoms ranging from itching and scratching to flea allergy dermatitis (FAD). Fleas also transmit parasites including tapeworms and infectious diseases to dogs. The cat flea, is the most commonly found flea in the United States.
The cat flea infested cats, dogs, and other mammals. Adult fleas live on dogs or other animals, and their diet consists of small quantities of their host’s blood. The adult female flea lays up to 50 eggs per day, and the eggs fall off the animals onto carpet, bedding, soil and other surfaces.
Flea eggs hatch into larvae 2 days to 2 weeks later. The Larvae eat organic matter in their environment for 5 to 18 days and then spin a cocoon to form a pupa.
A few days to a year later, an adult flea emerges. The complete life cycle of a flea can be as short as 2 weeks or as long as 2 years, which is why dog owners have to remain eternally vigilant against these maddening little devils.
Using Natural Flea Prevention for Dogs
Natural flea prevention for dogs approaches enable most dog owners to prevent flea infestations and maintain a healthy dog in a comfortable home.
But natural remedies are generally less effective in quickly reversing seriously infestations.
With severe infestations, dog owners may want to consider topical applications prescribed by veterinarians or a pesticide.
While effective, these high-impact approaches with heavy repeated use may negatively impact the long-term health of dogs, humans and the environment, and we believe in using them on an as needed basis with some dog owners avoid them entirely by following a year-round regiment of natural flea prevention.
Warning for Dog Owners who are also Cat Owners.
Cats are very sensitive to many other chemical and natural ingredients, used in flea killers and flea repellent.
Never use a flea product, chemical or natural, on a cat unless it’s specifically labeled for use on cats.
When to Contact your Veterinarian
See your veterinarian if you have a severe infestation that has not improved after trying several approaches for a month or sooner if your patience gives out.
If your dog has significant hair loss, bleeding or smelly skin, see your veterinarian.
If your dog vomits, drool heavily, twitch or shake, immediately call your veterinarian and strip the product off your animal by bathing with Dawn dish detergent.
Some dogs will be helped with just one, or two of the approaches listed below. Other dogs may require more changes.
Naturally Eliminate and Repel Fleas from your Dog
For the best results, all animals in the house must be treated for fleas at the same time, but these recommendations are for dogs only. Some ingredients that are safe for dogs are very unsafe for cats.
Bathe to Remove and Repel Fleas
Bathing with soap drowns adult fleas and helps remove eggs. Fleas hide in unwashed areas, so wash every part of your dog including its head.
Bathe at least once a month using a shampoo that includes a natural flea repellent.
Flea Shampoos we like are:
- Ark Naturals Neem Shampoo
- Dermagic's Flea Bar
- Wondercide's Flea & Tick Bar
- Mad About Organics Flea & Tick Shampoo
Use a Natural Flea Repellent
During flea season, use a flea repellent that includes cedar, name, geraniol or tea tree oil every 2 to 3 days or as indicated on the label.
Always double check the safety of products containing essential oils before using on very small dogs. These animals can sometimes have a negative reaction to essential oils.
Flea Repellents we like are:
Use a Flea Comb
To physically remove fleas and see how flea free or not your dog is by using a flea comb. Drown fleas you catch in your comb by dipping in warm soapy water.
How to Remove a Dog's Itchy Skin
Relieve itchy skin with a natural anti-itch spray or herbal skin supplement. Sprays that provide natural relief include:
- Mad About Organics Dog/Cat Insect Relief Spray
- Bio-Groom Lido-Med Anti-itch Spray
- Shake-Skin Spritz
Herbal Supplements that contain natural anti-itch compounds include: Animal Essentials Seasonal Allergy and Herbsmith Clera AlerQi.
Naturally Eliminate and Repel Fleas from your Home.
Vacuum your house frequently. Vacuuming is blissfully safe, and it really works.
In addition, vacuuming illuminates fleas at every stage of their life, and it eliminates the food larvae feed on. Vacuum every few days, paying particular attention to the places your dog spends the most time.
Buy a chemical flea collar from the grocery store and keep it in your vacuum cleaner bag to kill the fleas you vacuum up or empty your vacuum bag/container immediately after vacuuming.
Wash and dry bedding, clothing, and toys. Soap and water in the washer drowns adult fleas and high heat in the dryer kills fleas in all stages of life. After washing, spray bedding and dog clothing with the same natural repellent you spray with your dog with.
Treat the home and yard. Diatomaceous earth is a natural substance that acts as a desiccant, killing fleas by dehydrating them.
Sprinkle it in the house and yard, wherever your dogs and cats spend time. Pay special attention to carpet, furniture, hard to reach areas like corners and cracks and dogs and cats favorite sleeping places.
You may also work diatomaceous earth directly into your dog’s and carpet with brushing or sweeping. Although food grade diatomaceous earth is not a dangerous chemical, limit the amount of dust that you and your animals inhale. Plus you should bathe your dog within 24 hours to get the food grade diatomaceous earth off of your pup.
Use a mask when applying and let dust settle for an hour or two before you and your animals return to a treated area.
To treat the yard, try Wondercides Outdoor Spray or Yard & Garden Concentrate.
Strengthen your Dog's Skin
By helping your dog's skin and coat become ass strong and as healthy as possible, you’ll make your dog a less attractive host for fleas and reduce the secondary problems caused by flea and flea bites.
Here are some ideas on how to strengthen your dog’s coat.
Switch to a diet specifically designed to strengthen skin and coat. Raw diets are an especially excellent choice for improving skin and coat healthy.
Add Digestive Enzymes to Your Dog's Diet. Supplement with digestive enzymes to help your dog get the best possible results from whatever diet he is eating. Look for products with:
Essential Fatty Acid Supplements. Essential fatty acids supplements support healthy skin and coat as well as overall canine health. You may consider adding:
Getting the Results
You should see improvement within a day or two of treating your dog and house, but because the life cycle of a flea is measured in weeks, you’ll have to keep vacuuming, shampooing and spraying.
If you’re still having problems after a month of diligent treatment, you may need to enlist the help of a stronger product from your veterinarian.
After you get the problem under control, you can switch back to natural prevention.
Please take real care in using flea products.
The artificial, and even some of the natural ingredients used to kill and repel fleas can permanently injure or even kill some animals.
Cats are especially susceptible. If you have any doubts about whether something is safe, don’t use it until you know for sure.
Flea allergy dermatitis is the most common allergic condition in dogs. It’s caused by a reaction to flea saliva. About one in four dogs suffers from it.
A FAD can cause intense itching and discomfort for up to two weeks after a bite, long after the flea is gone.
Owners of dogs with FAD may decide that the possible negative impacts of pesticide free treatments are outweighed by the negative impacts of flea bites.
Dogs getting routine pesticide flea treatments are still likely to benefit from any other preventative measures outlined above.