We are in the dead of summer and the bugs are at their fiercest! We love to take our dog Sirius (named after the constellation not Harry Potter THANK YOU VERY MUCH…can you tell that I get that a lot? lol) on hikes through the nature preserve that we live right next door to and the first thing I do before we leave the house on our family hikes, is to spray him down with my Hippy Housepets Flea & Tick spray. With frequent use of natural methods around your home, you can help keep the pests at bay without leaving a toxic trail all over your house.
Many flea & tick products contain ingredients that are toxic to dogs, cats, and your family
Many of the flea control products on the market today contain highly toxic ingredients in them. Not only are these ingredients toxic to our animals, but if brushed off onto our human family members they can be potentially dangerous. The most at risk is children as they are highly suseptible to the amount of toxic ingredients in these flea collars and sprays. According to the Peta website:
The most popular kind of flea control products on the market is the “spot-on” variety, sold under brand names like Frontline® and Advantage™. The active ingredients in these solutions include chemicals such as imidacloprid, fipronil, permethrin, methoprene, and pyriproxyfen, all of which have caused serious health problems in animals in laboratories. Even some of the inert ingredients can be hazardous to your animal companion’s health. In 2008, the Environmental Protection Agency received more than 44,000 complaints of “adverse reactions” ranging from skin irritation to seizures and death, and has since been “pursuing a series of actions to increase the safety of spot-on pesticide products for flea and tick control for cats and dogs.”
Natural flea & tick control for your dog
Flea control can be very difficult once an infestation has started to take over, but if you work dilligently and frequently you can erradicate the flea population within your home and yard. There are many natural options that are very effective in flea, tick, and pest control, some of them are:
- Apple Cider Vinegar – The smell of vinegar alone, is enough to repel a mosquito, but apple cider vinegar is more than just a repellent. It is a natural conditioner to the skin and hair. It is also great for adding shine and luster to the coat. A really great way to utilize ACV to repel bugs, is to steep apple cider vinegar in rosemary, lavender, neem leaf, and/or other bug repelling herbs for two weeks, shaking the jar daily. Strain herbs from the ACV and spray onto your dog. Allow to dry and do not rinse! Works great on people too and is safe on and around children as well.
- Essential Oils – There are many essential oils that help repel all sorts of bugs and are safe to use in dog sprays! You can substitute these essential oils into your dog’s homemade Flea & Tick spray, based off of what you have on hand. PLEASE REMEMBER – dogs should be thought of like babies when it comes to essential oils and the amount to use. Not only do they have sensitive noses but they also have smaller organs than we do. Some of the essential oils you can safely use on dogs for flea and tick prevention are: lavender, lemon, citronella, sage/clary sage, bergamot, cedarwood, lemon eucalyptus, lemongrass, peppermint, geranium, sweet orange, and rosemary.
- Herbs – There are quite a few options that you can utilize herbally for your pets. You can make a great flea dip with a strongly steeped herbal bath tea! Simply pick your bug repelling herbs, steep them until the water is cool and either pour or spray all over your dog, saturating his coat. Let air dry without rinsing! You can also steep some olive/coconut oil in these herbs just like you would for healing salves and dab this herbal oil behind the ears and on other pressure points. Some of these herbs that you can use to repel bugs from your pup – peppermint, eucalyptus leaf, clove (it is safe to use clove like this but NOT SAFE to use clove essential oil), citrus (lemons/oranges), neem leaf, rosemary, garlic (this is safe for external application when steep in oil, but not safe to give to dogs internally), sage, lavender, and lemongrass.
- Regular Baths with real soap – One of the most important steps in flea control and prevention in your own home is to regularly bathe your dogs and to use real soap when you do it, rather than synthetic detergents. Real soap, like castile soap, is made with oils and fats and when it gets on a bug (this is true in your garden and on people too!) it disrupts the insect’s cell membranes, causing then to die from dehydration. Don’t forget to dilute if using castile soap, it’s highly concentrated and shouldn’t be used straight up.
- Regular Vacuuming – Regular vacuuming helps to pick up fleas and eggs from your carpets, floors, and furniture. It is important to flea control to empty the vacuum cleaner immediately after vacuuming, and remove it from your home to prevent re-infestation. For an extra flea killing oomph (that also helps to repel them too) add a few drops of bug repelling essential oils to 2 cups baking soda and sprinkle all over your carpet before vacuuming. Let sit 15-30 minutes before vacuuming. Not only does it leave a lovely scent to your home, but it also helps to kill and repel those pesky fleas! This is also great to do all over pet bedding and furniture that your dog frequently lies on.
- Maintaining Your Yard – Flea problems outdoors can be managed by maintaining your lawn and shrubbery and keeping it short wherever your pet frequents. You can also make soap sprays
- Wash Bedding Weekly – Though you can wash some bedding in the washing machine, others are more difficult to do so frequently. I am lazy and have big dog bedding so I like to sprinkle the bedding with baking soda and essential oils at the same time that I am sprinkling my carpet, let sit 15-30 minutes, then vacuum up.
- Make your own flea collar – You can easily make your own flea collar if you get a plain cotton pet collar and add a few drops of bug repelling oil to the collar (10-15 drops any combination of bug repelling essential oils to 1 Tbsp. carrier oil. Do not apply essential oils to the collar neat as they could accidentally transfer to your dogs skin and cause irritation without a carrier oil).
Essential oils that you should AVOID using on your dogs
It is important to note that there are essential oils that are toxic to dogs. Some information that floats around the internet makes it sound like the culprit is simply the quality of essential oils that you use, but the fact of the matter is, though quality essential oils is something we should think about for ALL applications human or not, the reason is because specific chemical compounds are toxic to dogs, no matter the quality of the essential oils. According to the book Holistic Aromatherapy for Animals, some of these essential oils to avoid using on your dogs are:
|Clove Leaf and Bud||Savory|
DIY Natural Flea & Tick Spray For DOGS ONLY
- 4 Tbsp. raw apple cider vinegar
- 2 Tbsp. aloe vera gel
- 1 tsp. vegetable glycerin (optional – helps to moisturize your dogs hair and skin and to further carry the essential oils.)
- 1 Tbsp. sweet almond oil (or some other carrier oil. Almond oil is a great choice because of its sulfur content; ticks hate almond oil!)
- 4 drops sweet orange essential oil
- 4 drops lemon essential oil
- 4 drops lavender essential oil
- 6 drops geranium essential oil
- 10 drops citronella essential oil
- 10 drops Virginia cedarwood essential oil
- distilled water to fill (you could substitute lavender hydrosol for even more mosquito protection!)
- 8 oz. spray bottle
- Combine all ingredients in an 8 oz. spray bottle and store in a cool dark place.
- TO USE: Safe for dogs 12 weeks and older. Shake well before each use. Lightly spray dogs entire coat until damp, but not dripping. Brush through. Repeat if necessary. Do not spray on the face.
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