November is here! Last week I was discussing how to select a safe Halloween costume for your dog, and now the Christmas season is creeping up on us. Before we know it winter will be in full swing. One common winter myth is that fleas and ticks die off in cold weather. Many pet parents that live in colder regions believe that they don’t need to protect their cats and dogs against these pests in months with cold weather, but that simply isn’t true. Preventative measures for fleas and ticks should be taken all year round.
As you may know, my family lives in Maine. When cold weather starts to set in many pet parents stop treating their dogs for fleas and ticks. Little do they know, these small creatures can still live inside their homes and are also living on other animals. Last year, we learned the hard way with our boxers.
We went away for a few days and left our dogs with a family friend. Her dog and cat both had preventative flea/tick topical treatments, but we had stopped treating our dogs about 8 weeks earlier. Our friend didn’t realize that there were fleas in her home because her animals showed no signs of the pests – thanks to their topical treatments.
Needless to say, both of our girls got fleas while we were gone and brought them into our home. At first it was only a few, so we didn’t notice. We also have two cats that we had also stopped treating for fleas and ticks. After about a week, we began to notice that we now had a huge problem.
It’s safe to say that we learned our lesson the hard way after bathing all four animals, giving them all a preventative topical treatment and treating our home to get rid of the fleas. We won’t be making that mistake again. We’ve since switched to using a homemade remedy for flea treatment that has worked very well, and I wanted to share a few with you all.
I like using the homemade remedies because they are all-natural. Now we don’t have to put chemicals on our dogs’ skin or into their bodies to prevent fleas. We’ve only tried two different home remedies, but I’ve been doing a lot of research on the topic lately and I’ve found a couple of new treatments that I may try. I’d love to hear about the natural treatments that you’ve used with your pets or any first-hand experience you’ve had with any of these remedies as well.
Home Remedies for Fleas and Ticks
Before you try to treat fleas and ticks you need to understand where they live and their life cycle. This knowledge will help you rid your home, yard and your pet of the tricky pests. Lynn Keiley wrote an article for Mother Earth News that not only explains ways to get rid of and prevent the infestation of fleas and ticks, as well as some great information on the bugs themselves.
- A flea’s life span goes through four stages. Research has shown about 5 percent of the fleas that infest your home are adults. The bulk of indoor flea populations are made up of pupae (10 percent), larvae (35 percent) and eggs (50 percent). Many common pesticides used to eradicate these pests kill only adult fleas, leaving 95 percent of the flea problem behind to leap up time and again.
You also need to be aware of the warning signs of fleas. Your dog may not scratch incessantly at first, but there are still noticeable signs that can alert you to fleas before your home is completely infested. This article from Grandma’s Home Remedies explains the many early warning signs if fleas.
- Becoming familiar with the following signs of a flea infestation can help you gain a quicker upper hand on fleas in your home:
- Droppings (also called “flea dirt”) on the coat of your pet
• Seeing flea eggs on pet or their sleeping quarters
• Allergic dermatitis
• Excessive scratching, licking or biting at skin
• Loss of hair
• Scabs and hot spots
• Pale gums
- Droppings (also called “flea dirt”) on the coat of your pet
eartheasy.com is a website designed to share information on sustainable living. Part of sustainable living is using natural products, and they have some great tips for getting rid of fleas naturally in this article. They give you remedies for getting rid of fleas from inside your home and tips on how to reduce the number fleas outside your home as well.
- You can trap fleas by placing a dish of soapy water under a night light near where your pet sleeps. Fleas are attracted to warm light and will drown in the soapy water. This works for adult fleas only, but with diligence, can be effective at reducing the flea population.
PetMD also weighs in on the subject, explaining that natural remedies can help to reduce your carbon footprint and may also be better for your pet in the long run. This article explains different remedies that you can use to protect yourself and your pets from fleas and ticks. I also like that they point out which remedies work for dogs but are not safe for cats.
- One of the natural repellents that a lot of people have success with is rose geranium oil, which can be applied to your dog’s collar. Do NOT use rose geranium oil on your cat, though. Cats can have a bad reaction to essential oils, primarily because they spend a lot of time grooming, which means that anything on their skin goes into their mouth.
If you’re like me, you may be interested in something that is written more casually and is based on someone’s experience in real life. I always like to read articles and blogs from real life pet parents that have tried what they are recommending. Blog author, Claire, gives some great options for topical and ingestable treatments. She discusses the treatment that we use in our house.
- For every 40 pound dog add 1 teaspoon of white distilled vinegar or apple cider vinegar to 1 quart of their drinking water. We highly recommend using Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar. Not only does it deter fleas, it improves a pups skin and coat condition from the inside-out.
This blog on treehugger.com by Melissa Breyer is also easy to read. It’s a quick blog that covers many all-natural remedies including nematodes. I know it sounds like an unlikely fix to a flea problem, but as Breyer explains, they actually eat flea larva, which will keep the outdoor flea population down around your home.
- Beneficial nematode worms, available at garden shops and pet stores, like to eat flea larva. Keeping them in the garden can help keep outdoor flea populations controlled.
I’ve heard many people say that Dawn dish washing liquid works to kill fleas, but I never knew why. According to fidosavvy.com:
- The original, blue-colored Dawn liquid actually penetrates the exoskeletons of the fleas and kills them!
The article goes on to give a list of home remedies to treat dogs suffering with fleas. Not only does this site give you the remedy, but it also explains why it works.
- Salt – Salt dehydrates the fleas, eventually killing them. Make up a 1:10 solution of salt/warm water and soak your dog with it. Rub the salt water deep into his coat and leave on for 10 – 15 minutes. Then rinse well and allow to dry.
One of the best resources for home remedies, The Old Farmer’s Almanac, has a great blog on their site that offers some unique ideas for keeping fleas and ticks at bay. They also give some pointers to help dogs with itchy skin, how to help heal scratches and abrasions, and how to cure other common canine conditions.
- Placing an open jar or two of eucalyptus stems and leaves around the house can deter fleas. Place them in rooms where your pet spends the most time (especially those with carpets- fleas love to hide in them.)
Ticks can carry a lot of diseases and it’s important to protect yourself and your pet from them. Some of these articles and blogs touched on the topic of tick prevention, but this article from the Home Remedy Shop specifically focuses on tick removal and prevention.
- Aromatherapy oils, like basil, lemon, cinnamon, cedar, lavender, and pennyroyal are the natural repellent for ticks. For removing ticks, prepare a mixture of any three oils. Mix one drop each of the three oils chosen and pure almond oil. Stir it well, and soak a cloth in it. Wrap this cloth on your pet. This remedy also helps in removing ticks from human skin. Just apply it on the skin.
Fleas and ticks are very dangerous to humans and pets. Not to mention, they can make your dog or cat very uncomfortable. Getting rid of fleas is not easy task, so it’s better to use preventative measures from the start. As I mentioned in the beginning of this blog, it is important to treat your pet for fleas and ticks all year round.
Now it’s your turn
If you’ve used a natural home remedy to get rid of or prevent fleas and ticks with your pets, please share it. Likewise, if you know of a blog or website that offers recipes for natural remedies for pets I’d love to check it out! Feel free to share your own experiences in the comments below. Let’s Talk!