Warnings such as "avoid contact with eyes, skin, or clothing" posted on mainstream, chemical-based flea control products have sent many pet parents scurrying to find natural, non-toxic control methods that are safer for pets and the surrounding environment. Natural flea repellents offer an alternative to mainstream, chemical-based flea control methods. Control fleas by reducing their outdoor population, trapping and eliminating them indoors and repelling them to prevent them from attacking your pets.
In the Garden
Repel pests before you or your pets bring them indoors by planting flea repellent plants or introducing natural enemies into the landscape, where flea larvae reside. Nematodes, for example, eat flea larvae, helping to control the population of fleas on your property. Nematodes are microscopic worms that can be purchased at pet or garden stores or on the Internet, and should be placed in shady, moist areas using a lawn sprayer. Within 24 hours of introducing nematodes to the area, the flea population is usually reduced by as much as 80 percent. Plants such as mint, lavender, rosemary, catnip, pennyroyal and rue are reputed to repel fleas outdoors. Use caution when planting pennyroyal in the garden, however, since it can be toxic to cats if ingested.
Inside the House
Regularly checking pets for fleas will go a long way to controlling fleas indoors. Trap adult fleas by putting a dish filled with soapy water near where your pet sleeps and under a night light. Fleas are drawn to the warm light and will drown in the dish. Vacuuming all carpeted areas and upholstery at least once weekly in addition to washing pet bedding sanitizes the environment and helps remove fleas from the home. Kill fleas by applying diatomaceous earth to carpeting and upholstery. Diatomaceous earth is a natural product that is lethal to fleas and other insects, but totally harmless to pets and people.
Dab flea repelling essential oils between your pet's shoulders. Lavender, lemongrass, citronella and peppermint oils repel fleas. Cedar, rosemary, eucalyptus and lemon oils also are effective in repelling pests. If your pet has sensitive skin, place a drop of flea-repelling oil on your pet's collar once a day. Make your own topical repellent spray by cutting six lemons in half and steeping in boiled water for several hours. Strain the mixture into a spray bottle and spray it onto your pet's fur, being careful to avoid spraying the face. If you do find fleas, dab them with rubbing alcohol to slow their movements, allowing you to catch and dispose of them.
A balanced diet does more than support your pet's internal health. Adding certain elements to your pet's diet will naturally repel fleas by causing your pet to exude a specific smell or by rendering the pet's taste unpleasant to fleas. For example, brewer’s yeast, which provides pets with B complex vitamins and supports healthy skin and coat, also repels fleas. Small amounts of garlic added to your pet’s food also will repel pests. For every 30 pounds of body weight, add 1 tsp. of brewer's yeast and/or one clove of garlic to food.