When fleas attack your pet, they don't just create an unpleasant condition for your dog or cat, they also make for an uncomfortable living situation with safety risks for you and your family. According to American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) accredited Veterinarians, your pet can contract these pesky insects anywhere they come into contact with other animals. At boarding facilities, doggy day-care and even the local park, you and your pet are presented with the risk of nasty flea infestations.
Once your pet contracts fleas, their subsequent spread to your furniture and carpet is inevitable. Over the counter flea control products are often full of toxic chemicals and many lose their effectiveness after a few uses.
For this reason, natural flea remedies are increasingly the option of choice for most pet owners, and especially those with small children. Since natural remedies are often more affordable and safer, there a number of reasons why you might want to do a little investigation should fleas strike your household.
Why Do Fleas Attack Your Pet?
Any animal that has access to a natural environment of grass and plants is at risk of picking up insects of all kinds. There are several types of fleas. Dog fleas are technically called "Ctenocephalides canis" and cat fleas are "Ctenocephalides felis". Less common types of fleas attach to other animals such as rodents.
Fleas survive by sucking on your pet's blood. The fur on your animal provides an ideal living environment for fleas, given adequate shelter and plenty to eat, these insects can thrive for 3-4 month cycles, in which hundreds of thousands of fleas are born in the process. Since they feed on the blood of your animal, the unpleasant reality is that they won't go away unless you take action yourself.
In a period of just 3 months, one female flea can lay up to 20 thousand eggs. What does this mean for your unprotected ankles and feet? Plenty of unpleasant bites and just think of what that translates to for your poor pooch! Scratching and licking away, dogs and cats will resort to anything in order to relieve themselves of the itching sensation associated with a flea infestation. If things get bad enough, which they quickly do, you'll notice that abrasions and cuts can often begin to form on your beloved pets. These can then lead to infections that cannot only be painful, but also very expensive to treat.
The Top 10 Natural Remedies to Prevent Flea Bites:
To prevent flea bites, mix eucalyptus oil with with sage and citronella oil. Dip a simple piece of string or thin rope into this mixture, and tie it around your pet's neck.
The resulting magic string will not only get rid of fleas, but it provides a pleasant smelling odor for humans as well. According to a 2008 research study from the University of Sydney in Australia , adding eucalyptus oil to a final wash cycle of your home furniture coverings and carpet and you can expect to kill at least 99% of all house mites and fleas as well.
2. Orange Oil Baths Kills Fleas
This natural herb can be mixed with ordinary shampoo in order to bathe your pet regularly and get rid of fleas once they've already made their presence known. Work from the neck down and allow the substance to sit for a while before rinsing it out.
According to a February 2002 report in the Whole Dog Journal, all artificial pesticides pose some level of risk to your pet's health. Natural alternatives like Orange oil, on the other hand, pose no risk whatsoever.
3. Pennyroyal Can Help Kill Fleas--But Be Careful
Pennyroyal is also a powerful flea repellent and killer. But take care. Pennyroyal should never be used directly on your animal. Although the plant's natural properties are a strong deterrent to the invasion of pests, an October 2008 report from Mother Earth News found that the oils from this plant should never be used directly on humans or pets, as they can cause skin irritations. Rather, plant this herb in your garden and yard to help keep fleas from invading.
5. Derris Powder
This substance is available from most garden suppliers, and can be dusted over your pet's coat regularly in order to kill fleas. Let the substance sit for about half an hour before brushing back over the coat of your dog or cat with a newspaper or something that doesn't remove the product entirely.
Unlike chemical-based flea treatments, which the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have found potentially harmful if not fatal to your pet, derris powder is natural and perfectly healthy when used in the appropriate quantity for the size and weight of your pet.
By feeding your pet small amounts of garlic daily (crush some up an mix it in their food), you'll notice the fleas dropping off due to the inhospitable environment it creates. According to Dr. Larry Siegler, graduate of the Cornell School of Veterinary Medicine, in his article 'The Natural Approach to Flea Control', the taste and odor of your animal become unfavorable to fleas when an appropriate dose of garlic is integrated into their diet. (Read more about the Top 10 health benefits of garlic.)
7. Essential Oil Bath
When the situation gets out of hand, an oil bath made from tea tree, lavender oil, or even fresh rosemary leaf will do wonders to stop fleas in their path. Be sure to only use a few drops of the oils, as their odor can be very strong. Dr. Sieglar's also states that natural oil baths and powders such as these are ideal because rather than attacking fleas with chemicals that they can form a tolerance to over time, these substances act by either dehydrating the insects or killing them by other natural means.
8. Citrus Repellent
Boil lemon peels in water and let it steep overnight. This will allow the acid in the lemon to be released in the water. Then, bathe your pet thoroughly, focusing especially on areas behind the ears, at the base of the tail and in the 'armpits', where fleas tend to congregate.
9. Brewer's Yeast tablets
Brewer's yeast is another natural flea repellent that can be given to your pet as a supplementary element in their diet. The tablets are broken down in your dog or cat's digestive system, and released through their skin, repelling and killing fleas. According to Dr. Pitcairn's Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats, the favorable effects of integrating yeast tablets into a cat's diet to help combat fleas were notable. Dr. Pitcairn Founded the Animal Natural Health Center in 1986 in Eugene, Oregon.
10. Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous earth is an excellent natural substance that can be used around your home to kill fleas that may have settled in your carpets and furniture. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has determined that this substance has such a low level of toxicity that it isn't even considered a foreign substance. Similar findings have come out of Australia by both the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority. The tiny sharp quality of the substance literally cuts through the exoskeleton of fleas, causing them to dehydrate and die.
According to the Michigan Humane Society, "A complete flea control program takes time, and once you have succeeded in ridding your house, yard and pets of fleas, it's best to continue with your chosen method of flea control to keep them away."
Whatever the natural solution you choose, be sure to consult your veterinarian to ensure the proper dosage and overall use of these effective remedies.