Fleas are the bane of every dog owner’s life. Not only do they cause skin irritation and frustration for your dog, but they get into the furniture, the carpets, and even the curtains, causing endless frustration for you. If you or your canine companion are allergic to fleas or their bites, then the situation is even worse. While there are a variety of flea treatments for dogs on the market, many are chemically based and concerns over some of these chemicals are encouraging owners to look for alternative answers. However, with so many essential oils on the market, how do you know which ones will work, and which are safe to use on dogs? Our panel of dog lovers and pet experts has put together this list of the 5 best essential oils for fleas.
The 5 Top-Rated Essential Oils for Fleas
1 Radha Lavender Oil
This therapeutic grade lavender oil is perfect for repelling fleas, ticks and mosquitoes, among other insect pests. While lavender oil is a brilliant repellent it doesn’t kill the fleas so should be used as a preventative treatment. As well as helping prevent flea infestations lavender is a full spectrum oil that has antifungal, antiseptic, antimicrobial, and antibacterial properties. It also has a pleasant scent, which can be calming and relaxing.
The Radha Beauty Lavender Essential Oil comes in a large 4oz bottle complete with dropper for ease of use. If applying directly to your dog it should be diluted in a carrier oil, for use around the home it can be diluted with water and applied using a spray bottle.
2 Aura Cacia Pure Texas Cedarwood Essential Oil
Unlike some other oils, Cedarwood oil actually kills fleas on contact. Plus, it can also kill lice and mites and is known to deter ticks. Plus, it can be used directly on your pet, but as with any other essential oil it should be diluted in a carrier oil first and remember a little oil goes a long way. You can also use it to spray around furniture and dog beds to reduce the risk of new infestations. If you have multiple pets in the home Cedarwood oil is safe around cats, but care should be taken with small mammals and reptiles. The Aura Cacia Essential Oil comes in a 0.5 Once bottle with a build in the dropper.
3 NOW Essential Oils – Eucalyptus
The best way to use Eucalyptus oil is as a preventative shampoo. A few drops of the oil can be added to your dog’s normal shampoo. Shake the mixture well before use and then bath your dog as normal, paying special attention to areas that are prone to fleas. The oil can also be diluted in water and sprayed around your dog’s bed and sleeping areas.
If you have cats as well be careful using this oil as it has been shown to be toxic to cats. NOW Foods Eucalyptus Essential Oil is steam distilled from the leaves and small branches of the plant. It comes in a 4 oz bottle and one slight negative is that it doesn’t contain a dropper.
4 Sun Essential Oils – Peppermint Oil
Peppermint oil repels fleas and is effective as part of your flea prevention program. However, Peppermint is a very strong oil, and care needs to be taken to ensure it is properly diluted before it is used. It is best to start with a weak solution and build up if necessary. As with some other oils, it is unsuitable for homes with cats due to toxicity issues with cats. The Sun Organic Best Peppermint Oil is 100% pure and comes in a large 4 oz bottle with a dropper for ease of use.
5 Zongle Therapeutics Organic Basil Essential Oil
Basil is one of the essential oils recognized as safe for cats and dogs, making it the perfect choice if you have a mixed pet household. The oil is also a natural antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and diuretic. As well as repelling fleas, it can prevent their bites with topical use. As with all oils, ensure that the Basil is diluted with a carrier oil before using it directly on your pet. Zongle Therapeutics Basil Oil is USDA Certified as organic. It is naturally produced with no chemicals and contains no GMOs.
Best Essential Oils for Fleas: Buying Guide
Knowing which essential oils for fleas effectively do the job is only part of the answer. You also need to know which are safe to use, and which can be used around other pets. Knowing how to properly prepare your essential oils for fleas and the other steps you need to take to prevent infestations is also helpful. In this buying guide, we provide the answers to these and other questions to help you choose the best oil for your dog.
Benefits of Essential Oils for Fleas
Alongside the potential to cause dangerous side effects in dogs, traditional flea treatments are becoming less effective. This is because fleas are becoming immune to the chemicals that these treatments contain. Essentially, this means that you’ll constantly need to change between different types of treatments to maintain the necessary level of effectiveness. As well as time-consuming, this can be difficult if your pet doesn’t react well to specific treatments or has sensitive skin. Plus, traditional chemical-based treatments can only be given at set intervals as described on the packaging. If you use them more regularly, you may harm your dog.
Essential oils for fleas, when chosen carefully, can prevent flea infestations, reduce the effects of flea bites, and in some cases even kill the fleas on contact. One of the main benefits of using these essential oils for fleas is that you can great a mixture and treatment schedule that is right for your pet. So, if you are going somewhere, like the dog park, you can spray or rub the oil mix onto your dog to repel the fleas of other dogs at the park.
Essential oils for fleas can also be used to prevent fleas from infesting or spreading around the home. Mixed with water and placed in a spray bottle, you can easily spray your dog’s bed, furniture, and curtains.
Several of the oils that are suitable for use with dogs also have other beneficial properties. Some have anti-fungal properties, while others have antibacterial, antiseptic and antimicrobial properties. Not only can they help prevent fleas, but they are beneficial to your dog’s health in general.
Take a look at our guide on the Best Flea Collar for Dogs.
How to Use Essential Oils for Fleas
To stop fleas and ticks it is essential to treat both your four-legged friend and your home. While ticks tend to stay on the animal, fleas don’t. They prefer to get into your soft furnishing, furniture covers, carpets, and curtains. They also love your dog’s bed and sleeping area. If the tick does leave your dog, chances are it will head straight for you, and this can be very uncomfortable, if not dangerous if it is carrying Lyme disease. To properly utilize these essential oils for fleas, make sure to follow these tips:
Apply Directly on Your Dog
All of the essential oils for fleas on our list are safe to use directly on your dog’s coat. However, no essential oil should ever be used undiluted. Other than creating a shampoo with oils such as Eucalyptus, you should always use a carrier oil. There is a range of carrier oils you can choose from including:
- Coconut oil
- Olive oil
- Sweet Almond Oil
- Avocado Oil
It is important that you DO NOT use Macadamia nut oil as this has been associated with toxicity in dogs and can cause vomiting, ataxia, muscle tremors, and fever.
When mixing your essential oil with your carrier oil you should use no more than three drops of essential oil per ounce of carrier oil. As with most things it is best to start small and work up.
Ensure the oil is well mixed before applying to your dog’s coat. You can do this either by massaging it in with your hands directly or by spraying the mix onto your dog and then working it in with your hands. Don’t spray near their facial or genital area. When working in the oil mix pay special attention to the joints of the legs, underbelly and neck area where fleas like to live and lay their eggs.
Repeat as needed, taking care to treat your dog before they enter a situation that puts them at risk of contracting fleas or ticks.
Treating your home
When treating your home, you still need to dilute the essential oil that you are using. For this part of the treatment, it is best to dilute it with water. Again, start with a very dilute mixture so that it is not too strong for your dog’s delicate sense of smell.
Spray on all carpets, soft furnishing and curtains. Pay special attention to your dog’s bed and anywhere else that they like to lay. If you have multiple pets at home, check that the oil you are using is safe for them as well before spraying around the house. Dogs have different tolerances to cats and other animals.
Check out Flea Carpet Spray & Powders.
What is the Best Way to Prevent Fleas and Ticks?
As we said above, preventing fleas and ticks is not just about treating your pet. There are lots of other things you can do, besides the use of essential oils for fleas, to reduce the risk of flea infestations and tick problems. Here are some top tips for preventing fleas and ticks.
- Groom regularly
Regular grooming is key to preventing flea infestations and finding ticks quickly. Check through your dog’s hair as you comb for signs of fleas, including eggs, and the unmistakable small lump that indicates the presence of a tick. Individual ticks can be removed using special tools, or by covering in Vaseline (or similar alternative). The tick should fall off soon after being covered and should be disposed of immediately. Remove any fleas you find and again dispose of immediately. Remember fleas can jump so squashing them between your fingers or into a bar of soap is recommended. Children’s hair lice combs are beneficial for using on short haired dogs for catching eggs as well as fleas.
You may also like our article on Dog Flea Combs.
- Regular bathing
Bathing your dog allows you again to check over their coats and deal with problems quickly. Fleas can survive in water, but they are less keen on clean dogs. If you combine regular bathing with putting eucalyptus oil in the shampoo, then you can double protect your dog.
Read here our review of the Best Dog Shampoo.
- Wash your dog’s bed and bedding
While fleas can survive water, they cannot survive water at very high temperatures and neither can the eggs. Wash your dog’s bed, bedding, and soft toys regularly on a hot cycle. Anything that cannot be washed should be checked for signs of infestation regularly and sprayed with a preventative spray where possible.
Fleas especially love carpets and soft furnishings, so regular vacuuming, especially in the warmer months is essential to stop the spread of any fleas that escape your other countermeasures. Make sure you get right into all the corners of your floor and behind things like wall heaters or radiators where dog hair can accumulate.
Find out more about Vacuum For Pet Hair.
- Maintain your outdoor areas
If you have a yard, then keeping the grass mowed and any shrubs cut back is an essential part of flea prevention as it gives them fewer places to hide. Discouraging feral animals from being on your property is also vital. Something as simple as not leaving food bowls out, or trash cans open can make a big difference to the number of unwanted visitors you get. You may also like to check out our review of the best flea killers for your yard.
- Watch where you walk
Long grass is great to play in, but it is also a great place to pick up ticks and fleas, especially as the weather gets warmer. Avoid such areas at the height of tick season if you can, and if not then check your dog over before you go back home.
Unfortunately, fleas are an integral part of owning a dog, but by following the tips we have provided and finding the best essential oils for fleas, you can reduce the impact that fleas have on your dog’s fun and wellbeing.
- Wendy Newell, 5 Home Remedies for Fleas on Dogs, Belvoir Media Group
- Sandy Eckstein, How to Keep Fleas and Ticks Out of Your Home, WebMD