Not only are fleas annoying for your dog, but they can be dangerous for your family. Learning how to prevent fleas is the first step to protecting your family, including the furry members. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to naturally keep them away from your dog and your house.
Before jumping into these 5 natural strategies, keep in mind that these only work as a means to prevent fleas, and aren’t the ideal solution for full-blown infestations. If you happen to find yourself dealing with an actual infestation, be sure to talk to your vet to find the most effective and safe way to get rid of them.
1. Keep your house and backyard clean and tidy
The first step towards preventing fleas is to ensure that you don’t provide the right environment for them to easily breed and develop. This starts with keeping your house clean by regularly laundering your dog’s bed and any covers it uses and by vacuuming and disinfecting the entire floor.
That way, you’ll catch fleas as soon as they get into your house and any eggs that may be lying around. Besides vacuuming, be sure to dump any trash bags as fleas are able to continue to live and breed inside of them.
If you have a backyard, another way to prevent fleas from living and breeding is by reducing the area they have available to do that. You can do this by keeping your lawn and trees trimmed. If, after doing that, you still have an infestation, check with your local lawn spraying service if they use non-toxic, organic products that are safe for your family and dog.
2. Have a natural predator in your backyard
Another thing you can do in your backyard to prevent fleas is to add one of their natural predators. Insects such as small worms or ladybugs feed off of flea larvae. These insects are easy to find at garden stores and are a very effective way to control the flea population. Another insect that is known to eat flea larvae is fire ants. However, if you’re thinking about using them in your backyard, be sure to practice some controlled fire ant management that limits them to specific areas of your yard.
3. Create your own natural flea collar
Flea collars are a safe and effective way to prevent fleas on dogs. They start working immediately, and the active ingredients on them spread over time throughout a dog’s entire body. This allows for maximum protection. You can buy flea collars at almost any pet store, or make your own with natural ingredients.
To make your own natural flea collar, you’ll need to soak a simple fabric collar or bandana on a liquid with a mixture of oils that are safe for your dog and, at the same time, will keep fleas away. As an example, this mixture can be created with lavender essential oil, cedarwood essential oil, thyme essential oil, melaleuca (tea tree) essential oil, garlic oil, and Witch Hazel.
4. Create your own repellent spray with citrus fruits
Fleas and other parasites are repelled by citrus fruits such as lemons and oranges. Lightly rubbing freshly squeezed lemon or orange juice onto your dog’s fur can help ward off fleas. The best way to apply this is by creating your own repellent spray with citrus fruits.
To do this, start by cutting a lemon into quarters and placing it in a pint jar. Boil some water and place it in the same pint jar, leaving it overnight. The next day, pour this solution into a spray bottle and use it on your dog. Don’t forget to apply it in areas such as behind your dog’s ears around its head, armpits, and at the base of the tail.
Note that you should use freshly squeezed juice and avoid any oil extract from lemons and oranges. These oils aren’t safe for dogs as they contain limonene which is a component that is also commonly found in all-purpose household cleaning products. Limonene is irritating to the skin and, when ingested, can cause liver damage in dogs.
5. Add apple cider vinegar or garlic to your dog’s diet
Finally, another way to prevent fleas is by making your dog an unattractive target to any parasites. You can do this by adding garlic or apple cider vinegar to your dog’s diet. Simply add garlic in the form of a supplement or add 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar to your dog’s water.
Before you do this, beware that garlic contains sulfoxides and disulfides that can damage red blood cells and cause anemia. So it should be fed in small amounts. As for the vinegar, you’ll need to check that your dog isn’t allergic to it. To do this, add two drops of vinegar to your dog’s tongue and see if there is any reaction. If there isn’t any negative reaction, it’s safe to use it.
Making sense of it all
These natural ways to prevent fleas are a great way to avoid chemical products that can sometimes cause allergic reactions in some dogs and people. However, keep in mind that these are more effective when you use a combination of them. For example, it’s best to use a dietary solution and a topical product. This will provide broader protection than when using only one of them.
Keep in mind that these should only be used to prevent fleas and not for full-blown infestations. Those will need stronger products and it’s likely that you won’t be able to avoid using chemicals at that point. Always check with your vet before using anything. They’ll be able to recommend the most effective and safest solution for your dog and your budget.
The most important thing of all is that you keep your dog well fed with a balanced diet that can help keep its immune system working properly. Parasites such as fleas aren’t attracted to healthy animals and having a strong immune system will help fight off any diseases that your dog may come in contact with.