If you should find a flea (even one flea) on your dog, it is time to start killing the fleas immediately. There are many methods of killing fleas naturally. The key to keeping a flea-free home and a flea-free dog naturally is to take immediate action at the sight of even a single flea.
Killing fleas naturally is considerably more work than using chemicals. However, if you use good natural flea prevention, you should rarely have fleas.
If you should ever have fleas, you will be prepared to deal with them after reading this post.
If after reading this article, you decide that you do not want to invest the necessary time to kill fleas naturally, consider sticking with natural flea prevention at the very least! If you are committed to not using chemicals even when you do find fleas, here is a discussion of a wide variety of effective ways to get rid of fleas naturally.
Kill Fleas With a Flea Killing Bath
The first thing to do is to kill all the fleas on your dog by bathing him in Dawn dishwashing liquid. It must be done in a certain way or the fleas will hide. If you start the bath the traditional way by wetting the dog’s entire body, the fleas will run into the dog’s ears or between his paw pads until you are finished. Then, just when you think you’ve killed them all, they will come back out and re-establish residency all over your dog.
Bathe the Head First
The best way to kill fleas with a bath is to start the bath by squirting the soap on the top of your dog’s head (before wetting your dog). Then, wet your dog’s head only. Soap up your dog’s head and around his ears forming a soap barricade to keep the fleas from running into his/her ears. Once you have barricaded the ears by soaping up all around them, the fleas have no safe place to hide.
Bathe from Top to Bottom
Next, wet your dog’s back. Then, soap up the rest of your dog, starting with his/her back and working around to his/her neck. Then bathe down to the end of the tail, around to the stomach and down each leg. Don’t forget to soap up even the paw pads. If there are fleas, the Dawn will kill them on contact.
Don’t Rush the Bath
I continue to scrub for at least 5 minutes to make sure there are no places that I have missed. I use a liberal amount of soap and then make sure that I rinse well. Be careful not to get soap in your dog’s eyes and when rinsing around the ears, hold the ear flaps over the ears so that you don’t get water inside. The ears must be rinsed well. At the same time, the water should be kept out of them. Dawn is a strong soap. I would use it once at the first sign of a flea and then not use it again. It can dry out your dog’s coat and skin.
Drive the Fleas Away With Garlic
Begin adding garlic to your dog’s food if you find fleas. While some claim that garlic is not good for dogs, most holistic vets do recommend it for flea control in moderate amounts. It is safe in moderation. It requires very high dosages for garlic to be unsafe.
Use about a teaspoonful per day for an averaged sized Golden Retriever (about 60-70 pounds). I would use this from the time of the first flea until you’ve been at least a month without seeing a flea. You can buy large containers of garlic from Springtime, Inc. Garlic, in addition to apple cider vinegar, will make your dog very unattractive to fleas.
Get Rid of Fleas in Your Environment
The next thing to do is get the fleas out of your environment. There are two ways that I find that work well.
Use Cedar Oil in Your Home
Cedar oil is the most effective way but it leaves behind an odor that could linger for a couple of weeks if you spray your entire home.
Use Diatomaceous Earth in Your Home
Diatomaceous earth works also but if there are more than a few fleas, it is not as thorough at killing them all as the cedar oil. I advise wearing a yard mask when spreading diatomaceous earth as it can be irritating to your nose and throat to breathe it if it gets in the air. I would suggest spreading DE on your dog’s bedding and anywhere your dog frequently lies. It is also safe to put on hardwood and tile floors. I would leave the DE for 24 hours and then vacuum thoroughly. The same applies to cedar oil. If you have found a flea on your dog, you need to vacuum every single day until you are sure that the fleas are gone.
If you use diatomaceous earth, make sure you buy food grade as some dogs will lick it up. Try to discourage that as the diatomaceous earth only works when it is dry. The way it kills fleas is by cutting the exoskeleton thereby causing the bug to dehydrate. (Diatomaceous earth will kill any bug. As a bonus, if you buy DE, it is a safe natural ant killer.)
Again, it must be dry so make sure you use it outside when rain is not in the forecast. It is the shape of the tiny granules that cuts the bugs and when it is wet, the grains stick together and lose their effectiveness.
Don’t Use DE and Cedar Oil At the Same Time
Do not use both diatomaceous earth and cedar oil. The cedar oil will make the DE wet. Choose one or the other.
Wash anything that your dog has come in contact with….upholstery, bedclothes, pillows, dog beds, etc. If it will go in the washing machine, wash it there with hot water if the fabric will tolerate it. If it can’t be put in the washing machine, spray it with diluted cedar oil. I have used Dr. Ben’s Paws and Claws successfully on upholstered furniture. It didn’t stain or cause fading to either my fabric or leather.
However, I’d suggest using it first on an inconspicuous place before putting it on an entire piece of furniture. It does smell like cedar at first but the smell will mostly fade within a day and will fade totally within two or three weeks. This is true even if you heavily spray your entire house. I’ve sprayed furniture, hardwood floors, and carpet.
Treat Your Yard
If your yard is not too large, treat the yard with either cedar oil or diatomaceous earth. Again, I believe that cedar oil is more effective but diatomaceous earth is less expensive. I recommend the brand of cedar oil called Nature’s Defender if you are going to be spraying it outside. My yard is too large to treat. I have almost 10 acres fenced for our dogs. This makes it impractical for me.
Therefore, I cannot personally attest to the effectiveness of using these products outside other than using DE on ant beds. However, because of the success I’ve had getting rid of fleas in my home with these two cedar oils and DE, I believe that outside treatments would be helpful for someone with a normal-sized yard.
Continue Flea Combing
If you’ve seen a flea on your dog within a week, make sure that you are flea combing every day until you’ve been at least a week without fleas.
If I find fleas, I use a different type flea comb than I use for combing when there aren’t fleas. I like the kind with a single row of teeth and a plastic flea catcher on one side. It is a little more difficult to use than the kind with the double row of teeth. You have to comb slower and make sure that you are holding the comb a little more parallel to the dogs skin than you would hold the other type comb. Using this type comb is slower but more thorough.
Spray Dog With Cedar Oil
I also make sure that I have a bottle of Dr. Ben’s Paws and Claws Cedar oil handy. Sometimes flea combing will make a flea come to the surface. If you should miss it with your comb, you can spray it with the oil. The cedar oil will kill it on contact.
As long as you are continuing to see fleas, you can spray your dog directly with Cedar Oil. It will make your dog smell like cedar. However, it will kill any fleas on contact that are on him. It will also repel them for several days.
Put Out a Flea Trap
Until you are sure that all fleas are gone, put out a flea trap, the kind with a light and a piece of sticky paper that goes under the light. This will let you know if you still have a problem in your home. There shouldn’t be if you’ve sprayed with cedar oil, but continue checking just in case.
To save money, you can make your own flea trap by rigging up a night light to shine down on a flat pan of soapy water. I’ve never used the home-made kind. However, you can find information on how to make one by googling it.
The bought traps are not expensive and it was worth the lack of hassle for me to make the purchase. Place your trap in the area where you suspect there might be fleas. If you catch one, you probably have more.
Chemical Flea Products
I believe that the makers of chemical flea products are making flea problems sound worse than they are. Even a cursory reading of this article might give someone the impression that fighting fleas can be a major ordeal.
Preventing fleas with natural methods is certainly no big deal and fighting them naturally is very possible for someone with the time and inclination to follow these tips. I’ve done it during times that I’ve had 6 or 7 dogs living in my home and while taking them on frequent excursions out in woods and fields. If I can do it successfully with a house full of active large breed dogs, you can certainly do it successfully and more easily if you only have one or two dogs.
However, in all honesty, fighting fleas naturally if you should actually have them can be time-consuming. Still, at the very least, consider natural flea prevention and then if you should find a flea, fight it with chemicals at that point. Read our article on Natural Flea Prevention for more information.
Chemical Flea Control
As was discussed on our page on flea prevention, Chemical flea preventatives such as Comfortis and Bravecto are flea killers, not preventives. However, they could be a good option for WHEN you get fleas. They turn your dog into a walking flea bomb. Your dog will pick up the fleas in your home and in your yard. The chemicals in his body will kill the fleas after the flea bites him.
If you don’t want to go to the trouble to kill the fleas naturally, then use the chemicals. However, there is absolutely no need to subject your dog to these chemicals circulating in his body “just in case”. Use them sparingly, once every few years. Your dog will be healthier for it.
Again, year-round chemicals are not necessary to have a flea-free dog and home!