Natural Dog Flea Medicine and Products - Treatment & Prevention
Why should you use natural dog flea medicine and products? How about this for a reason...
“Caution: Hazardous to humans and domestic animals… Avoid contact with eyes, skin or clothing. Wash thoroughly with soap and water after handling.”
We found this on the label of one of the first flea control products on a major pet store’s website. Avoid contact with domestic animals’ SKIN? Isn’t that what the product is made for?
It gets worse.
Survival of the fittest applies to fleas as it does to all other living things. Those fleas that survive the poison do so because they are resistant to it. Then they give birth to more fleas that are also resistant to it.
Furthermore, the poison also weakens your dog. Since fleas are attracted to weak pets, making your dog weaker with synthetic flea products only compounds the problem.
So what should you do? This page will take you through...
- First things first - things to keep in mind during your battle
- How to tell if your dog has fleas
- Prevention: Natural flea control starts here
- Mild to moderate flea problem
- Major or chronic flea problem
- Summary of the best natural flea control treatments and products for your dog, home and yard
- Review of conventional medications: Frontline, Advantage, Program & Capstar
Natural remedies for flea control work just as well as the methods containing toxic ingredients and pesticides. This page reviews excellent combinations of natural insect repellents for use on your pet, in your home and yard.
When moving forward with your flea prevention and treatment efforts, it is important that you keep to the schedules recommended on this page (weekly, monthly, etc.) as indicated for the best (and least harmful) results.
Also note that the home mixtures and product recommendations are NOT meant for puppies. Puppies can develop more severe problems related to fleas, so if your pet is less than 4 months old you should consult your vet immediately. When using any products, be sure to follow the directions closely.
As is the case with all products, be sure to use all dog flea medicine and products as directed on the products' label.
If you are unsure whether your dog has fleas...
- Look closely at the base of your dog's hair,
especially around the neck, ears, legs and the base of their tail.
Fleas are small (about 1/8 of an inch long), blackish/brownish, quick-moving insects. They are broad when viewed from the side (see image to the right), but very narrow when viewed head-on.
- Fleas' speed can make them tough to spot, so if you don't see any, continue your search by looking for flea dirt (flea droppings). To find it, place a damp paper towel on the floor and have
your dog stand on top of it.
Then comb your dog with a flea comb – if you see small specks of black that turn red with moisture, that's the flea dirt and confirms that your dog has fleas.
As a preventive measure, consider adding garlic and yeast (brewer’s or nutritional) to your dog’s diet. There are mixed reviews about how well this works to prevent fleas, but those who support it feel that it works best on healthy dogs.
To avoid potentially serious side-effects, natural dog flea medicine and treatment should always take precedence over
chemical treatments. The easiest way to “stay natural” is to discourage
fleas in the first place by keeping your dog healthy through:
- The right natural dog food diet
- Regular grooming (following proper dog grooming instructions), bathing and exercise
- Routine check-ups with your veterinarian (ideally a holistic veterinarian - see our Dog Vet Care page to learn why)
Try planting fennel, sage or wormwood near your dog's kennel and sprinkle lavender around your dog's bedding (or use a lavender pillow).
The following are also considered effective natural flea repellents...
- Yellow Dock
The second half of flea prevention is to kill existing fleas and keep new ones away from the places where they develop and thrive... namely their host (your pets) and the areas where their host rests and sleeps.
In addition to your dog's skin and fur, favorite flea hang-outs inside the home include...
- Dog beds/bedding (that includes your bed if they ever sleep there)
- Furniture (both on and underneath)
On a weekly basis, you should thoroughly clean your dog and home to get rid of existing fleas, flea pupae, flea larvae and flea eggs.
For your dog, use a safe natural flea shampoo such as the BarkLargic Tick & Flea Pet Wash, and apply a natural flea repellant like this Flea & Tick Prevention and Treatment Spray from Wondercide (called 'Evolv').
For your home, vacuum and clean the floors, especially where your dog sleeps. To kill any unseen developing fleas, wash your dog's bed in soapy hot water, rinse it in cold water then dry it using high heat.
A Note About Stains
Before spraying any natural flea repellant on furniture or carpeting (or allowing your dog to jump on your furniture after application), do a quick spot test on a hidden portion of your furniture or carpet. The essential oils in the repellant may leave a mark on sensitive fabrics.
Spray your Wondercide Evolv or other effective natural repellant onto your dog's bed and throughout your house every couple of weeks... especially in and around your dog's favorite play area and sleeping spots.
You should also steam clean your carpets at the beginning of flea season (spring) or whenever you are starting your prevention efforts.
Outside of your home, fleas are most likely to be in and around your dog's favorite resting places. This can include their kennel, doghouse, your lawn, underneath bushes and porches or anywhere else your dog likes to laze the day away.
To keep the fleas off of your property...
- Mow your lawn to allow sunlight to reach, heat and kill flea larvae
- Water your lawn periodically to drown fleas
- Encourage ants, or at least don’t try to do away with them through pesticides, as they serve as a natural dog flea control by eating the developing fleas.
- Finally, use a natural home and yard flea protector. The Vet's Best Natural Flea & Tick Yard & Kennel Spray is a great option.
If you already have a flea problem, try these tips in addition to the dog flea prevention recommendations above...
comb your dog at least twice per week,
possibly daily, paying special attention to the head, neck,
back and rear-end.
As fleas come off of your dog and onto the comb, dip the comb in hot, soapy water then rinse it in cool, clean water.
When done, pour the soapy water down the drain (not outside).
Next, search your dog's skin for any flea bites. The skin in and around the area of a bite may have a small bump or appear red or swollen.
If your dog has been bitten, first clean the effected area with a safe and natural solution. Clenzor from Native Remedies works great.
Once the area is cleaned, observe your dog to find out if there is any discomfort around the bites. If they are scratching or biting at the area, you can ease their discomfort with a natural salve or spray such as DERMagic's Cell Restoration Creme.
To effectively fight off an existing flea problem, you'll first need to take extra measures during your weekly vacuuming. Since fleas are small enough to sometimes survive being vacuumed (tough little buggers), vacuum cleaner bags should be burned or frozen in an airtight bag before disposal.
Your second weekly to-do is to give your dog a bath with flea shampoo. Make sure that the shampoo you use is especially made for pets and contains only natural ingredients. As mentioned above, we like the BarkLargic Tick & Flea Pet Wash.
For added protection, you can add peppermint, lavender, clary sage or lemongrass to your dog shampoo if it does not already contain it (the Only Natural Pet shampoo contains two of these). The proper amount to add of each is 10 drops/100 ml.
Finally, apply a natural flea repellant such as Evolv from Wondercide.
If you're feeling adventurous, you can also make your own natural flea control for application on your dog's fur and skin...
Homemade Natural Dog Flea Medicine / Powder
- Combine one part of as many of the
following powdered herbs as possible:
- Yellow Dock
- Put mixture in shaker-top jar
- Go outside (so the vacating fleas don’t wind up on your floor) and apply the flea powder to your dog’s fur by brushing backwards and sprinkling it into the base of the hair (especially focus on the neck, back, belly and rear-end).
- Use this natural flea control recipe as frequently as necessary, up to many times per week for more serious infestations.
Note: Some herbal flea powders contain natural pyrethrins. While this is not a good flea killer, it does a great job warding them off.
About twice per year, sprinkle unrefined natural diatomaceous earth anywhere you cannot clean or the vacuum cannot reach. It is harmless to humans and pets, but it kills fleas by drying out their skin.
When using diatomaceous earth, remember...
- Do NOT use it directly on your pet. As with any fine powder, inhaling it can irritate the nasal passages.
- Do NOT use the diatomaceous earth made for swimming pool filters.
If you know your dog's heading into an area that may have fleas, consider applying a natural flea repellant beforehand. You can either use a pre-made mixture like BarkLogic's or prepare your own.
In addition to its use as a flea repellent, the renowned Juliette de Bairacli Levy recommends the following lemon dog flea medicine skin tonic for use as a treatment for dog mange and as a general skin toner...
Juliette de Bairacli Levy’s
Lemon Dog Flea Medicine Skin
- Thinly slice a lemon along with the rind
- Add it to 1 pint of near-boiling water, then let it steep overnight
- Sponge the solution onto your dog’s skin and let it dry
- Apply as frequently as daily
You may also want to consider the use of an essential oil flea collar, but their effectiveness has received mixed reviews. These collars are designed to repel fleas rather than kill them.
If a more severe infestation has occurred or if your dog has been diagnosed with flea allergy dermatitis, essential oil flea collars may not be effective.
If your flea problem is out of control - either there is a complete infestation of your home or yard or if they continually return despite your application of our recommendations above - following are some additional options to consider...
- Have your carpets treated annually with
anti-flea mineral salt. This gets away from natural flea control for
pets, so discuss the level of toxicity of individual products with the
specific service provider that you use and cross-check it with your local veterinarian. Different salts can have
different levels of toxicity.
- As a less toxic alternative, we recommend trying Fleabusters Rx for Fleas Plus before resorting to the more hardcore options.
- If the problem is totally out of control and
you have tried all of the natural options in the sections above, consider an insect
growth regulator (IGR). Send your dog away on the same day to be
cleaned to be sure that you get rid of any freeloaders.
- Even though they are not natural, IGR’s are low chemical, safe and one of the most effective products out there. They work by preventing the flea from developing into an adult.
- Parasitic nematodes are small worms that eat flea larvae. Since fleas have a very limited range of mobility, these may be a consideration if your fleas are concentrated in a small patch in the yard or garden. However, their effectiveness has received mixed reviews.
- Flea capture pads or electric flea traps emit heat to attract fleas to sticky paper and are also effective for a small, localized flea problem. Springstar's Flea Trap is an inexpensive and effective option.
As reviewed above, if you have a dog flea problem or are trying to avoid one, you need to combat the problem on three fronts. Following is a summary of our product recommendations for each...
- Flea comb: GripSoft Grooming Tools Flea Comb
- Flea bite cleaner: Clenzor - Natural cleanser for pet wounds, insect bites, skin conditions and infections
- Flea bites that itch: DERMagic Cell Restoration Creme
- Flea shampoo: BarkLogic Tick & Flea Pet Wash
- Preventive Flea Spray: Evolv from Wondercide
- Larger area treatment: Fleabusters Rx for Fleas Plus
- Smaller/specific area treatment: Evolv from Wondercide
- Smaller/specific area treatment: Springstar's Flea Trap
Is there ever a time to use conventional flea medicine?
If your dog's body isn't healthy enough to even begin to mount an effective battle against the fleas, it may be time to try the conventional route for a short period of time. Following is an overview of the big four and which are the best and safest...
- Frontline works best for ticks, NOT fleas, even though it is advertised for both. In addition, it soaks into the pores and CANNOT be washed off.
- Program is taken internally and is absorbed into the tissues. It will only work against fleas if the flea BITES your dog.
- Capstar is also internal, but very short-lived. It will only last 24 hours or so in your dog's system.
- Advantage is the least toxic and best option of the bunch as it...
- Only attaches to the oil layer of the skin. As a result, it can be washed off using Dawn or Palmolive dish detergent, which strip the oils off of the skin, similar to removing the oil off of birds caught in an oil slick.
- Can kill fleas only if they jump on your dog and come into contact with the skin. Fleas do not have to bite your dog.
In summary, if you must use a conventional medicine for flea control until your dog regains his health, then Capstar and Advantage would be the least toxic. Advantage is best for fighting fleas on contact; Capstar may be a viable option if your dog's problem is the result of flea bites.
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