There are many methods of treating and preventing fleas and ticks on dogs and in your home. The most popular are the use of lemon, essential oils, or diatomaceous earth. Some methods are more effective than others. Try different ones until you find the right one for you.
Besides the fact that fleas and ticks are annoying because they bite and cause constant itching, they also pose a risk to your dog’s health. Fleas and ticks can transmit parasites and bacteria to humans too.
So, it is best to try to prevent flea and tick infestations in dogs as much as possible.
There are multiple ways to treat and prevent fleas and ticks on dogs. The most known is the application of antiparasitic substances (pesticides). But the application of more natural ingredients, such as essential oils, baking powder, salt, and others, is becoming popular too.
Always talk to your veterinarian to avoid unforeseen problems, no matter what method you choose. There are cases in which the repellents do not have the desired effect.
Here are some natural remedies that can be helpful if your pet has fleas and you don’t know how to get rid of them.
9 Best Natural Flea and Tick Treatments for Dogs
To eliminate fleas, you can use natural products that can be applied directly on your dog’s fur, in its shampoo, or around your home and garden. The most popular are essential oils, flea combs, lemon water, baking soda, and others.
Most of the solutions presented in this article are more effective for fleas than ticks. Fleas are insects, and ticks are part of the mite class. Their only resemblance is that they feed on the blood of the host they parasitize.
Commercial flea and tick products contain at least two substances, one that works for fleas and one for ticks.
The natural methods you can try at home are often recommended to keep fleas and ticks away from your pet, house, and garden.
1. Flea Comb
A flea comb is a simple tool with short, thick teeth. It is suitable for eggs and adult fleas. You should use this comb if your dog has few fleas, not a massive infestation.
This tool can be found in any pet shop. It has very thick teeth and is suitable for removing eggs and adult fleas.
To keep your dog’s fur clean, comb it twice a day or after you come home from a walk. If you comb through every part of your pet’s body, you can eliminate a large part or all of the parasites.
Flea combs should also be used after bathing, as flea eggs are not always removed in the shower.
A flea comb is also suited for unattached ticks. The ones that still roam around your pet’s fur can be caught with the comb.
Do not use the flea comb on attached ticks. You risk separating the tick from its mouthpiece, which can lead to a skin infection. Traumatizing a tick can make it pour its contents into your dog’s bloodstream faster. This can result in infections via various pathogens.
Always have a dish of soapy water on hand to clean your comb if it gets loaded with eggs, fleas, or ticks.
2. Essential Oils
Some essential oils can be used to remove and prevent fleas and ticks. Their safety has not been studied in detail for pets though. Never use highly concentrated essential oils. Always dilute them before use, as you may otherwise intoxicate your pet.
Essential oils are considered safe for dogs when used in low concentrations. To obtain low concentrations, mix the essential oil with other oils (jojoba, coconut, or olive), creams, lotions, water, or shampoo.
- Photosensitivity to sunlight
Only use essential oils on your dog on the recommendation of the veterinarian. Otherwise, you risk intoxicating your dog, which can result in severe complications.
Treating and Preventing Fleas with Essential Oils
The following essential oils are considered safe for dogs in low concentrations:
- Tea tree
Essential oils can be used in your dog’s shampoo when you bathe it, you can apply them on a textile collar, or use them around the house.
Always dilute them with water or carrier oil. Never use concentrated essential oils.
Prepare a mixture of 6-7 drops of rosemary, mint, eucalyptus, tea tree, and citronella essential oil with a cup of water. Before spraying your dog’s fur with this solution, test it on a small skin area to check if your pet is allergic. Apply the mixture every two days.
Some essential oils are strong enough to kill ticks instantly. Use it with care around pets.
Treating and Preventing Ticks with Essential Oils
For killing and repelling ticks you can use eucalyptus oil. Prepare a dilution of 4 ounces of distilled water with 20 drops of eucalyptus oil. Spray it directly on the tick.
Make sure your pet does not ingest essential oils as they can cause poisoning.
Common symptoms of essential oil poisoning in dogs include the following:
- Excessive salivation
- Muscle weakness
Contact your veterinarian immediately, if you have applied essential oils on your dog’s fur and skin and it started to behave strangely.
3. Flea Bag
Another way to keep fleas at bay is to put some natural ingredients in a bag, such as lavender, cedar bark, and lemon peel.
If you don’t already have a small bag at hand, you can make one from a piece of fabric. Add the following ingredients:
- Crushed cedar bark
- 1-2 teaspoons of dried lavender buds
- Lemon peel
Tighten the bag and place it where your pet sleeps, but out of its reach. The effect lasts for a month. Repeat the procedure once the effect wears off.
4. Baking Soda
You can sprinkle baking soda on your dog’s fur before bathing or combing it. This will make the removal process easier. Baking soda does not kill fleas but makes them detach.
Powder your dog’s fur with baking soda a few hours before bathing it. Rinse your dog thoroughly, as baking soda can irritate the skin.
Another method is to powder your dog’s fur with baking soda before combing its fur. Let the baking soda sit for a while before brushing your pet. Use a flea comb for better results.
Related: Baking Soda for Fleas on Dogs
5. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is considered a safe flea repellant that is very well tolerated by pets. It is full of lauric acid which helps kill and prevent fleas and ticks. Coconut oil is also safe if ingested, but too much can lead to diarrhea.
Coconut oil is packed with fatty acids, including lauric acid which both kills and repels external parasites.
Fleas avoid pets that have been applied with coconut oil, and covering already attached fleas or ticks in coconut oil makes them unable to move and breathe.
How to use coconut oil on your pet:
- Massage it into your dog’s skin.
- Prepare a mixture of two tbsp. of coconut oil and 30 ml warm water and spray it over your dog’s body.
Related: Coconut Oil for Fleas on Dogs
6. Lemon Peel and Water
Add lemon peels to 240 ml of water and set it aside for 24 hours. Strain the liquid and spray it on your dog’s fur, avoiding its face.
You can also heat some water and add lemon slices when it starts to boil. Let the mixture sit overnight. Spray it over your dog’s body, avoiding its face. You can use it once or twice per week.
7. Lemon Shampoo
Wash your dog with a mixture of the juice of half a lemon, about two cups of water, and about half a cup of dog shampoo. Use the shampoo weekly to bathe your pet.
8. Salt or Borax
Both salt and borax are used to kill eggs and larvae from both fleas and ticks. Salt or borax dehydrates them. Due to the absorbent qualities of sodium and borax, these two substances act as abrasive and can damage and penetrate the exoskeleton of fleas.
Sprinkle salt or borax on carpets, furniture, inside cracks, or wherever you think there are flea or tick eggs. Let it sit for at least 12 hours, then vacuum well.
Related: Does Salt Kill Fleas on Dogs?
9. Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous earth is excellent for flea eradication, as it causes them to dehydrate. It can be applied everywhere in your home.
Although it is not considered toxic to pets, you should generally avoid using it. Diatomaceous earth can cause lung damage if inhaled.
How to use diatomaceous earth in your home:
- Vacuum and brush all your carpets. Wash at high temperatures everything you can’t vacuum.
- Sprinkle diatomaceous earth in a thin layer wherever you think fleas or larvae may be hiding. You can confidently sprinkle diatomaceous earth on carpets, animal beds, etc.
- Leave the diatomaceous earth spread for about 12-48 hours to take effect. Although fleas begin to die after 4-6 hours, it is advisable to wait longer before cleaning.
- Vacuum all the powder.
You can even use diatomaceous earth in the yard, but you need a large amount for this.
How to Remove Ticks from Dogs
The safest way to remove a tick is by using a pair of tweezers or tick tools. Check your pet for ticks after each walk. The second you find one, you remove it.
Besides the tweezers or tick tool, you will need a pair of gloves (to protect your hands) and disinfectant or antiseptic (to clean the bitten area).
How to remove a tick from your dog:
- Grab the tick as close as possible to the skin, without pinching your dog’s skin.
- Slightly pull the tick up, applying a little force and pressure to the skin until it comes off.
- Do not twist or jerk the tick.
- Clean the area with antiseptic.
- Dispose of the tick by putting it in rubbing alcohol or acetone.
- Monitor the bite for the next couple of days.
Make sure you remove the tick’s mouthpiece. If you don’t get it at first, gently pull it out with tweezers or see your veterinarian.
Related: How to Remove Ticks from Dogs