There are 2,000 species and subspecies of fleas. They thrive in warm, fluid environments and can jump up to 10,000 times in a row on three pairs of powerful legs. Fleas can bite nearly any creature providing blood, but pets are particularly susceptible. For those weary of chemical treatments to kill the pests, there are natural alternatives.
Things You'll Need
- Natural flea shampoo or any other shampoo
- Bath or shower for pet bathing
- Natural flea spray
- Nylon collar or other absorbent materials
- Essential oils of rosemary, geranium or citrus
- Diatomaceous earth
- Natural borax
- Washer and dryer
Kill Fleas On Your Pet
Shampoo your pet thoroughly. The Earth Clinic website recommends shampoos that contain any combination of the following ingredients: pine cedar, geranium, bergamot, juniper, rosemary, citronella, lavender or eucalyptus. The site also recommends building a thick lather around the head and neck area before wetting the rest of the body, as it will help kill fleas trying to escape to higher ground. Cats, however, seem to be sensitive to citronella and citrus products, so avoid this ingredient for feline friends.
The Vetinfo website recommends shampoos, but states fleas drown in water, so even dousing your dog will help and that any shampoo will be at least somewhat beneficial. (ref 3)
After shampooing, apply a natural flea spray to your pet. Vetinfo recommends a spray with any combination of the following ingredients: citronella, peppermint oil, rosemary, cedar oil and wormwood. These can be found at natural health food or pet supply stores. Apply daily from this point on. Remember cats are sensitive to citronella and citrus.
Make a natural flea collar using essential oils and an absorbent material, like a heavy-duty, woven nylon collar or cotton bandana. Apply 100 percent pure essential oils of citronella, rosemary or geranium using an eye dropper. Start with one drop at a time to test your pet's sensitivity to the oils, then elevate to two or three drops once a week on the collar if your pet seems tolerant.
Kill Fleas In the Yard and House
Spread nematodes around the house and in the yard. Nematodes are microscopic worms that eat larvae. This will help control the flea population around the house.
Wash all bedding and other materials your pet frequently uses or that you are suspicious is infested with fleas. Dry on the hot setting.
Cover your carpet and other hard-to-reach areas with diatomaceous earth, a fossilized algae purchased at gardening supply stores. (Do not purchase the kind at pool supply stores.) The best thing to do is allow it to sit for two or three days before vacuuming. If this is unrealistic, proceed to the alternative in step 4.
Alternative to step 3: Cover carpets and other hard-to-reach areas with a mixture of 1 and 1/2 pounds of diatomaceous earth, 1 and 1/2 pounds of natural borax and 1 cup of salt. Leave it as long as possible, up to three days. Vacuum.
You can put powders (in steps 3 and 4) in the vacuum bag or canister itself and vacuum the house. Do this as often as possible. These powders will not kill flea eggs, so you may need to repeat this process several times over the next few weeks.
Place the vacuum outside and immediately place contents of the bag or canister in an airtight bag, as flea eggs can hatch and breed in the vacuum to reinfest your house.