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How to Get Rid of Fleas on Your Dog Without Chemicals

Updated on August 10, 2012

How do you know if your dog has fleas?

To get rid of fleas on your dog you first have to make sure that your dog definitely has fleas. My twelve year old dog and my four year old dog had never had fleas. Is wasn't until we got a new dog from the Humane Society and the battle of the fleas began. The dogs were scratching and biting near their tails. I bought a flea comb and in one swipe I found fleas.

The best way to know for sure if your dog has fleas is to use a flea comb. You will want to comb near the tail area first since that is the most likely place you will find the fleas. Scratching and biting is not a sure sign your dog has fleas because many dogs can get irritated by cleaners you use in your home or on your carpets. Dogs can also have allergic reactions. It is best if you use a flea comb for several days to determine if your dog definitely has fleas. If the flea infestation is just starting you may comb one day and find nothing. That is why if you suspect fleas you should comb for several days in all different areas of your dog's fur.

Alternatives to Commercial Flea Products

Getting rid of fleas on your dog can be done without the use of harsh chemicals and commercial products. However, it will take time and constant effort. We have three dogs that roam around on our five acres of land and last summer all three dogs had fleas. It wasn't easy but, I can happily say I defeated the fleas without the use of harsh chemicals. First, I did a lot of research on the Internet and tried a lot of different things. Some things may work better if you only have one dog, but for my three dogs the bathing and brushing method worked the best.

I would take them outside one at a time and follow these steps every night:

  • fill up a bucket with warm soapy water
  • comb the dog with the flea comb
  • after each pass with the comb, submerge the flea comb in the bucket of water and make sure all the fleas are left in the soapy bucket
  • keep repeating until all the fur is combed
  • three nights per week bathe the dog with Dawn dish liquid and warm water (if possible get a baby pool and do this outside)
  • scrub the dog's skin very well and let the soap sit for a few minutes if possible
  • rinse several times
  • after the fur dries a little, go through with the flea comb

You will also need to clean your house with warm soapy water, especially the baseboards and corners. If you have carpet, sprinkle borax powder on your rugs before you go to bed and vacuum it all up in the morning. Also, clean all dog bedding and crates frequently.

How to deal with dog fleas after the first week

After your first week of dealing with fleas you may think you won, but you will quickly find out how wrong you are! Battling fleas for good without chemicals takes a month or two and even then you still need to check your dogs every other week.

For my dogs,getting rid of fleas became a way of life. I would take them outside one by one and brush and comb them with a flea comb. I have two labs and a beagle mix so all their fur was fairly short. I always gave them a treat after the combing and after a few weeks they got better and better about it. On weeks where I combed and only saw a few fleas I only bathed the dogs once or twice and used the oatmeal shampoo since it is a little gentler on their skin.

In addition to the combing, brushing and bathing I did a lot of cleaning around my house. Most of my house is laminate flooring so I only had a very small area of carpet I had to deal with, which was a good thing. Flea eggs can live in carpets for months and can cause huge headaches. I cleaned the hard floor and molding with warm water often and also washed bedding and furniture frequently. I didn't use any special cleaners because mild soaps and hot water were enough to kill the fleas. The one thing I realized is even when I thought I was done battling the fleas, within a week or two they would come back. I would only find one or two but I learned that if I stopped my bathing and brushing routine it would get bad again. So, I quickly learned to reduce the combing and bathing and excessive cleaning but not stop it completely. Once a week bathing and combing was better, in my opinion, than using chemicals or even treatments like Frontline or Advantage. Once winter came, the fleas were gone for good outside and on the dogs but, we kept up with the once a week routine since the heat inside the house can help flea eggs thrive.

How to Prevent Fleas from Coming Back

If you are looking for safe, non-chemical ways to prevent another flea infestation follow these tips:

  1. Keep your grass cut short
  2. Clean your house at least once a week
  3. Clean your dog's bedding and crate once a week
  4. Comb and bathe your dog at least every other week
  5. Limit how much you allow your dog on furniture and in your bed (fleas can lay eggs down in your sofa and in your mattress)
  6. Feed your dog homemade garlic dog treats

Fleas can lay eggs that lay dormant for months, so it is very important to follow these tips to prevent another infestation. Many people I know who have used commercial chemical products have reported that if they miss the re-application of the flea liquid by a few days, they see fleas again. So, even if you decide to use chemicals, following these tips would still be a good idea.


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    • profile image

      Wren 2 years ago

      DO NOT use Dawn dish soap on dogs. It will take away the oils that your dog needs from their coat and make them itch and cause more harm than good. You can simply give them a bath in warm water to drown the fleas.

    • Natashalh profile image

      Natasha 5 years ago from Hawaii

      About four years ago, my dogs got a terrible feels infestation that I did my best to irradiate naturally. I was eventually forced to turn to chemicals because stray cats we living between the floors of the house (it was a multi-unit rental in one old house), but I prefer to use the natural treatments first.