- Pets and Animals
Natural Flea Treatment Ideas
Natural Complementary Flea Products
Personally, I don’t think that you can shift a heavy duty infestation of fleas without some chemical use, but I do think that natural products can play a part in complementing conventional flea treatments by repelling fleas and soothing the effects of flea bites. There is also one essential natural thing that you can’t do without if you want to rid your home of fleas: hard work!
Buying Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous earth is a powdery white substance formed from the fossilised remains of shell-like algae. It's used widely in products from dynamite to toothpaste! As an insecticide, it works by causing dehydration of the pest's outer layer.
If you want to try diatomaceous earth, look for a food grade product.
How to Use Diatomaceous Earth
You don’t need to spend a fortune on flea products for treating your home. Yes, you can go out and buy flea bombs and foggers which can help shift fleas from your carpet quickly (if used properly and effectively) but you probably have several effective flea treatments around your home already.
- Baking Soda: sprinkle it around your carpet and leave it for a few hours, then hoover up.
- Salt: use it like baking soda above. You can combine the two (this is what I do – in my opinion it works!). One caution - if you apply salt to a varnished wooden floor, don't leave it too long, particularly if the conditions are damp - it can affect the finish of the wood.
- Diatomaceous earth: Okay you may not have this around the house, but this naturally occurring rock can be sprinkled around on the carpets and pet bedding. Take care to buy the right kind (see right for advice) and keep it away from pets and children.
- Water: yes, water! Fleas don’t like extremes of temperature, so kill them with boiling or frozen water. Wash bedding at high temperatures. Freeze fabric items (eg soft toys) for 24 hours. Steam carpets, upholstery and drapes.
- Vacuum cleaner: It’s not 100% natural, but it is 100% chemical free and it is the best friend you have in getting rid of fleas from your home. Hoover every day during a flea infestation, every few days to keep them at bay. Dispose of your bags outside after each use.
Garlic, Pets and Safety
Garlic is known as a deterrent to fleas - as well as having other health benefits - yet garlic for pets is a highly controversial issue. The ASPCA and RSPCA, as well as several insurance companies and vets, warn of the dangers, yet others swear by the use of garlic - with some caveats.
Eating garlic (and indeed onions) can affect an animal's red blood cells - with cats being far more susceptible than dogs. A relatively small amount can lead to serious health problems - early warning signs include drooling, vomiting and diarrhoea.
However, small amounts can have benefits - a lot of benefits according to some.
To be safe, I would stick to using a commercially produced product. Garlic and Fenugreek tablets, for instance, are sold by the RSPCA site, as well as elsewhere.
Repel Fleas Naturally
Here are some ideas for repelling fleas from your pet, yourself and your home. I don’t claim that these ideas will kill fleas; they may help to make things less attractive to fleas.
- Garlic: eating garlic regularly can help to make you or your pet less palatable to fleas. Caution! Garlic can be toxic to dogs and should not be fed to cats. Check the information to the right on the views surrounding safety and a possible safe solution.
- Eucalyptus oil: Fleas don’t like the smell of eucalyptus, so use it to your advantage. Don’t apply the oil directly to your pet, or allow it be be ingested. However, a few drops on the carpet, near bedding or diluted in a wash (keep out of eyes) can be helpful.
- Nematodes: Use nematodes (natural predators, available from garden centres) to kill off flea larvae in your backyard. Nematodes aren’t effective in all environments – moist, warm areas are best suited to them.
- Plants: Several plants have the reputation of repelling fleas, so try planting fleabane, chamomile, rosemary and basil in your yard.
Help for Bites
- Healthy diet: Both you and your pet need a healthy balanced diet to heal bites and fight infection.
- Ice: Don’t try it on your pet, but for your skin, apply an ice pack wrapped in a tea towel to help reduce swelling and itching.
- Aloe Vera: A great natural healer.
- Tea Tree Oil: Use diluted to dab on flea bites.
- Oatmeal Shampoo: Use for your pet to soothe itchy skin.
- Neem Oil: I've used this on my dog on the recommendation of a friend. It has to be the worst smell ever, but it did appear to help.
Helping Nature Win
I started by saying that I don't think that natural treatments can beat a full-scale flea infestation. However, if you keep on top of your pet's flea treatment, you may be able to keep the fleas at bay. In summary:
- Natural treatments are great for helping to keep fleas away.
- Natural treatments can help to soothe itchy flea bites and heal marks.
- Hard work and dedication are some of the best non-chemical defences against fleas!
If you do find yourself battling fleas, or you pet develops a flea allergy, see your vet. Fleas breed rapidly, and they can quickly get out of hand.
© 2015 Judith Hancock