Getting rid of fleas on our dogs seems to be a very futile undertaking. Flea medications are rather expensive and many come with serious side effects as well as potentially harmful complications in the long run. Plus, the fact that fleas have been on this planet for millions of years, way longer than man, makes eradicating fleas completely an exercise in futility. But don’t be disheartened. You may not make fleas go extinct, but at least you can exterminate the fleas on your dog safely and effectively. Here are 5 natural remedies you may want to give a shot to control fleas on your dog.
You might not actually consider vacuuming as a ‘natural remedy’, but it is one of the most effective ways to remove these pests from your home. It is wise to remember that fleas have different life stages and that the adult stage constitutes only about 10 to 15 percent of all the fleas that we are killing with flea medications. Vacuuming all surfaces in your home will not only remove these adult fleas but also the eggs, the larvae, and the pupae.
Vacuuming is especially useful in the removal of these last 3 particularly pupae as this life stage of fleas are very sturdy even against the strongest insecticide. Your best chance of removing them is by vacuuming all floors, walls, and surfaces where your dog may have come in contact with, either directly or indirectly. Of course, you won’t be able to vacuum the fleas already on your pet, but since these comprise a fraction of the flea population you’re actually doing more good by focusing on the fleas in the environment.
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Apple Cider Vinegar
We have to make it clear that apple cider vinegar is never intended to kill fleas. Its use is primarily as a flea repellent. What apple cider vinegar does is that it makes your dog or anything else upon which it has been applied on very unappealing to fleas. Experts say that fleas do not really like the smell and the taste that is left by apple cider vinegar on the skin or coat of your dog or anywhere else, making these ectoparasites want to move somewhere else.
The question some people ask is whether other types of vinegar can have the same repellent effect on fleas. Interestingly, using other vinegars such as distilled white vinegar has yielded conflicting results. The one type of vinegar that has been consistent in repelling fleas is apple cider vinegar. Perhaps it has something to do with the additional polyphenols present in the formulation that make fleas crazy whenever they smell or taste ACV on dogs.
There is a bit of controversy in the use of diatomaceous earth especially in the management of flea infestation. This siliceous sedimentary rock in fine powdery form has excellent hygroscopic property which allows it to draw out moisture from adult fleas and larvae. Once moisture has been drawn out of their bodies, fleas undergo a series of physiologic changes that are related to their loss of cellular metabolism. You see, cells need water to provide a safe medium upon which chemical reactions take place. Since water has been drawn out, the cells in fleas are no longer able to function properly. This leads to their death.
Sadly, the very nature of diatomaceous earth makes it quite risky. Since it is technically made of silicate, these very fine particles can be inhaled either by your dog or by you. The effects may not be readily apparent but the rather rough nature of silicate can injure the alveoli of the lungs. But diatomaceous earth is a really effective way to get rid of fleas.
For the longest time, man has been using a variety of essential oils in getting rid of fleas. Lemongrass, rosemary, cedar, peppermint, fennel, and lemon essential oils are mixed with carrier oils like sweet almond oil, coconut oil, or even olive oil prior to their application. The reason why these essential oils need to be somehow diluted first is to make sure that you don’t give the full strength of the active ingredients found in these essential oils. While these may be natural, their physiologic effects can also be worrying especially when given in high concentrations.
Essential oils can be sprayed onto your dog’s coat without the need for saturating the fur. Some pet parents actually add several drops of their favorite essential oil into their dog’s shampoo. Others would put a drop or two of these essential oils on dog collars or even on bandanas to wrap around their pets’ necks.
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Your ordinary table salt has been used for millennia in preserving food so that they don’t spoil easily. In case you haven’t seen dried fish or anything that has been dry-processed the old fashioned way, salt draws out water in pretty much the same way as diatomaceous earth. The only downside is that it takes several days before you can see any results. Salt naturally attracts water molecules. This dehydrates fleas especially the adult ones. As we already explained above, cells need water to create a conducive environment for chemical reactions to take place. Without this fluid environment, chemical reactions can still proceed, but often at the expense of generating too much heat. This shuts down the cell’s physiologic functions leading to its death.
The good thing about using salt as a natural remedy for fleas on dogs is that it is readily available and cheap, too. You also don’t need to worry about irritating your respiratory passages or even your lungs. The downside? Well, it usually takes a longer time before you can actually kill fleas.
These natural remedies are just some of the safest and equally effective ways to getting rid of fleas on your canine friend. Remember, however, that these are not as potent as synthetic chemicals used as insecticides. The results you expect may come a bit longer than usual. Nevertheless, these natural remedies do work in controlling fleas on your dog.
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- Four Flea, Tick Products Linked To Seizures, Ataxia, American Veterinary Medical Association,
- Using Flea Medications Safely: Top 5 Tips for Pet Parents, ASPCA
- The ABCs of Cruelty-Free and Vegan Flea Remedies, PETA