If you have a dog or cat, then chances are you’ll have to deal with fleas at some point.
We found fleas on Kitty in fact the last time we lived in Rio de Janeiro. Luckily, they were easy to spot – fleas are usually brown in color, and Kitty is bright white. We saw one crawling on his face, and started parting his hair until we found more.
Discovering the fleas was the easy part. Getting rid of them was harder than we could have imagined.
Fleas are tiny, wingless insects that live off of the blood of warm-blooded hosts, like humans, cats and dogs. There are 2,500 species of fleas in the world. These small parasites can jump distances that measure more than 150 times their body length, and females can lay up to 50 eggs per day!
Flea infestations are incredibly hard to deal with because you have to kill both the fleas on your pet and the insects that have propagated in your environment. That includes bedding, carpet, the floor boards and more.
Many traditional methods for ridding your home and pet of fleas call for repeated exposure to dangerous and toxic chemicals. Luckily, there are less harmful ways to both kill and repel fleas. See below to find out what works.
Does Dawn Kill Fleas?
Dawn dish soap will kill the fleas on your pet.
To use it, wet your pet, and then use your fingers to massage the Dawn into their fur. Make sure to lather it into armpits, behind ears, on their belly and paws.
Dawn is safe and non-toxic, but in rare instances it can dry out skin. Keep a look out!
Do Essential Oils Kill Fleas?
There are a number of essential oils that kill fleas, and others that work to repel them. Some also have antiseptic properties that help with flea bites and skin irritations. The list of oils includes:
- Lemon and lemongrass
Essential oils are a great option because they’re natural and safe, when used correctly.
Research the essential oil to learn the most effective treatment options. Some methods include spraying, using a diffuser or applying directly to your pet using a carrier.
Never apply undiluted essential oils to your pet. Always use a carrier oil or liquid to blend your essential oils before applying them.
Carrier oils include:
- Coconut Oil
- Avocado Oil
- Evening Primrose Oil
- Jojoba Oil
- Sweet Almond Oil
- Castor Oil
- Olive Oil
- Grapeseed Oil
Cautionary Note: some essential oils can be toxic to animals if used incorrectly. Be sure to research your oil of choice and the best form of application.
Does Vinegar Kill Fleas?
Vinegar can treat existing flea infestations and can also help prevent new ones.
Fleas are repelled by vinegar’s strong smell. Here are four ways to use it to kill and repel fleas:
- Use a quart of distilled white vinegar when bathing your pet, and let them air dry.
- Add a few drops of vinegar to your dog’s daily drinking water. It will make their blood and skin become acidic, repelling fleas. Caution: This only works for dogs, not cats!
- Soak your pet’s bedding and linens in a water and vinegar solution for a few hours, and then dry them using the highest setting on your dryer.
- Keep a water and vinegar solution in a spray bottle, and spray it on your dog’s fur and bedding from time to time.
Does Coconut Oil Kill Fleas?
Natural, human-grade coconut oil can be used to both kill and repel fleas.
The oil coats the flea’s body, suffocating them and limiting their mobility. Plus, the anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties in coconut oil help with flea bites and skin inflammation.
Massage coconut oil into your dog’s skin and fur, and let it sit for up to eight hours. Do this outdoors, so things don’t get too messy. Be sure to coat ears, bellies, paws and armpits. You might want to put an old t-shirt on your dog too, so they can’t lick the oil or rub it off. Then, wash it off using gentle shampoo.
Coconut oil also works great when combined with essential oils.
Does Salt Kill Fleas?
Fleas thrive in warm and humid environments, and salt dries them out. It’s especially effective when sprinkled on carpets or around the house.
Some recommend giving your pet a salt bath in a solution of one part salt to every ten parts water.
Salt can be a skin irritant, and is troublesome if exposed to your pet’s eyes, ears or nose.
I don’t recommend the salt bath, but if you find it works for you, be sure to rinse very well. Be advised that if your pet has any open wounds, this bath is a definite no.
Does Baking Soda Kill Fleas?
Baking soda dehydrates and kills fleas, larvae and eggs.
There are two ways to use baking soda on your dog to rid them of fleas.
Dry method: sprinkle baking soda onto your dog’s fur, and massage it through his coat and the base of his ears. Let it rest for a few minutes, and then brush your dog.
Wet method: mix one tablespoon of baking soda with 1.5 cups of warm water. Massage it into your dog’s skin and coat, let sit, and rinse.
Make sure that you’re using active baking soda that hasn’t expired and isn’t old.
Does Tea Tree Oil Kill Fleas?
When diluted and used properly, tea tree oil can both kill and repel fleas.
However, it is toxic for pets if ingested or used improperly. And, unfortunately, it’s easy to misuse because it’s difficult to dilute properly.
I recommend using safer alternatives, like the others listed here.
Does Bleach Kill Fleas?
However, it is best used on floors, hard surfaces and in the washer. Bleach is poisonous to pets if ingested. Keep them away from areas where you are using bleach so there is no risk of contact.
Does Apple Cider Vinegar Kill Fleas?
Apple cider vinegar does not kill fleas, but it does repel them. Fleas don’t like the smell or taste of it, so they avoid it.
Spray equal parts apple cider vinegar and water on to your pet. Be careful to avoid sensitive areas, like their eyes, nose and ears.
Does Diatomaceous Earth Kill Fleas?
Diatomaceous earth, which is fossilized algae, has been used to kill a myriad of bugs, including fleas, bed bugs, parasites, cockroaches and more.
When fleas consume the powder, they die.
Lightly sprinkle the diatomaceous earth onto your pet’s fur, and either comb or massage it in. Make sure you do this outside to avoid a mess!
Make sure you use food-grade diatomaceous earth, which can be purchased online.
What’s your favorite method of tackling fleas? Let us know in the comments!
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