Does your dog scratch behind his or her ears more than usual? Maybe you hear your dog whimpering in the middle of the night and can’t seem to get comfortable. There’s a good chance that your dog has fleas.
It’s never easy to watch when your dog is feeling unwell, but you can take care of the fleas on dog with relative ease. If given the choice, most dog owners would likely prefer to use chemical-free flea treatments on their dogs. We will help you find the best flea treatment, with natural ingredients, to get rid of fleas on your dog for good.
What’s a Flea?
Before we share some of the most effective home remedies for fleas, it’s important to learn a little more about dog fleas. Fleas on dogs can be hard to detect until your dog starts showing symptoms because they are so small. You may wonder, “What do fleas look like?”
Often described as the “size of a pinhead,” fleas often go unnoticed until you have an infestation. Their color ranges from light brown to nearly black. While they don’t have the ability to fly, fleas can jump about eight inches high; this makes it easy for them to reach your dog from ground level.
A flea’s body is thin, flat, and have a hard shell. They live to feed on the blood of warm-blooded animals, and your dog is the perfect, unsuspecting host. Female fleas are known to consume around 15 times their body weight, in blood, each day.
Understanding the Flea Life Cycle
Fleas on your dog don’t suddenly appear from nowhere. Understanding the life cycle of a flea can help you be more effective at flea removal. The ideal environment for a flea to thrive is between 70 and 85 degrees (F) and with about 70 percent humidity. Depending on where you live, your dog may be at a greater risk of fleas than others.
The life cycle of a flea includes four stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. If you live in an “ideal” environment, the life cycle may take anywhere from a few weeks to several months. Now, we will discuss each stage in greater detail:
The life cycle begins with flea egg on dogs. An adult female flea will “feast” on a blood meal from your dog and then lay the eggs. The eggs are white and microscopic (smaller than a grain of sand). The eggs are laid in the host’s (your pet) fur in bunches of about 20.
A single adult female can lay about 40 eggs daily and relies on blood to lay her eggs. The eggs usually fall off your dog as he or she walks around. The flea eggs are usually disbursed in an area where your dog is likely to be infected, such as a dog bed or even on the sofa. Remember, if you live in an “ideal” environment, the eggs will hatch more quickly.
Flea larvae are what hatches from the eggs. Larvae are sensitive to light and take weeks to develop. They eat flea “dirt,” also known as flea poop, which is partially digested blood left behind by adult fleas. A flea larva grows to be about a quarter of an inch long. They appear to be almost transparent and have no legs.
Next, the larva spins a cocoon. This may take anywhere from about five to 20 days, from emerging from their eggs, depending on the environment. Once a cocoon is spun, the next stage begins.
The cocoon protects the larvae (which has turned into a pupa) for days or weeks until the adult flea emerges. Again, the speed of the life cycle is heavily dependent on climate and conditions. The flea cocoons are difficult to spot, and the outer coating sticks easily to carpeting and other areas. The cocoon also protects adults from chemicals.
The adult flea will not hatch from the cocoon until a host is available. How does it know? It can sense vibrations and body heat. As soon as an adult flea finds a host, fleas on a dog will start eating blood and laying eggs; the cycle has started again.
Why Do Dogs Get Fleas?
Many people may assume that only dirty or uncared for dogs get fleas. Dogs get fleas because they are an ideal host. Dogs aren’t the only animals at risk for getting fleas; any warm-blooded animal (even us) can end up being a host for fleas. A flea can come from anywhere.
You may be a carrier or even a mouse that hid in your cabinet all winter could be a host, too. Fleas can also be found outside or on wildlife. If your dog encounters anything or anyone (including other dogs), he or she could easily become an unsuspecting host to a flea.
How to Tell If Your Dog Has Fleas
It’s not uncommon for your dog to scratch his or her ears every so often, bite at a spot on the body, or even have some redness appear on the skin. If your dog displays any of these behaviors more than usual (almost obsessively) or acts like he or she is in pain, your dog most likely has fleas.
One of the most telltale signs of fleas on a dog is the flea “dirt” we briefly mentioned earlier. Flea “dirt” is a great way to identify a flea infestation, but many dog owners mistake the flea “dirt” as actual dirt. Check out your dog’s coat, especially if he or she is exhibiting other symptoms.
You can also wear white socks and walk in areas where your dog hangs out (like his or her dog bed). If you see specks all over your socks, there’s a good chance that it’s flea “dirt.”
How to Get Rid of Fleas Naturally
If, after reading about the symptoms, you exclaim, “My dog has fleas!” don’t worry, we will tell you how to get rid of fleas. It’s important to remember that depending on what stage the flea is at in its life cycle, one natural flea remedy may work better than another.
There are numerous dog fleas prevention and dog flea treatments on the market, but many of those contain chemicals that may be harmful or even ineffective. Want to know how to kill fleas on dogs? Try a home remedy for fleas that contain natural ingredients.
Natural Flea Collars
Regular flea collars are laced with chemicals, smell awful, and may leave you wondering, “Do flea collars work?” The nice thing about flea collars is that they are an effective flea treatment for dogs and you don’t need to keep applying drops and other medicines.
You can make your own natural flea killer with essential oil and your dog’s collar or a bandana (and it will smell better, too). Dilute two to three drops of cedar or lavender essential oil in one to three tablespoons of water.
Now apply five to ten drops of the mixture (an eyedropper is helpful) onto your dog’s collar or a folded bandana, which you tie around your dog’s neck. This natural flea repellent for dogs can be applied once a week.
You can also try diluting one or two drops of oil with about one tablespoon of olive oil. This mixture can be placed at the base of your dog’s tail as a home remedy for fleas on dogs.
Rosemary Flea Dip
A homemade flea dip is a great way to get rid of fleas on your dog. All you need to do is boil two cups of fresh rosemary for about a half hour. Strain the liquid, discard the leaves, and add to a gallon of warm water. After the water has cooled to a comfortable and safe temp, soak your dog in the water and allow them to air dry.
Natural Flea Repellent
An easy way to repel flea in a dog is by using spray. This homemade spray recipe calls for one lemon, two sprigs of fresh rosemary, one sprig of sage, one sprig of lavender, and one quart of filtered water.
Thinly slice the lemon and place in a large bowl with the rosemary and sage. Add a quart of nearly boiling water, cover, and let steep overnight. In the morning, strain the liquid and put into a spray bottle.
Keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks and spray on your dog before he or she goes outside.
If you have eucalyptus essential oil, this is another effective oil for getting rid of fleas. You can use this oil on a natural flea collar (as mentioned above) or add a few drops to your dog’s shampoo (three or four drops to a 16 oz. bottle of shampoo).
Apple Cider Vinegar
Adding raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar (ACV) can be effective in keeping fleas away. For every 40-pound dog, add one teaspoon of vinegar to one quart of drinking water. The ACV can also improve your dog’s skin and coat if he or she has had issues due to fleas.
Tips for Preventing Fleas in Your Yard
There are a few things you can do to keep fleas out of your yard. First, try to keep your grass mowed short. You can also plant natural deterrents like lemon balm, sage, rosemary, catnip, basil, and mint in areas where your dog hangs out.
You may also want to try lightly spraying your yard with a homemade garlic spray. Combine one gallon of nearly boiling water with eight bulbs of chopped garlic (you can skip the peeling process). Place the garlic and water in a stockpot, cover, and let steep overnight. In the morning, strain the contents and put in a garden sprayer. Lightly spray areas of the yard.
Make Orange-lemon puree
Blend Oranges and lemons to make a puree.
boil water to add to the puree it will become paste-like
Let the paste cool off
Put the paste on your dog's fur where it is scratching
let it dry naturally
1 cup of Uncooked oatmeal soaked in water
rub it on your infested pets' fur
Rinse oatmeal off your pet after 15 minutes with warm water
This takes care of most of the fleas
Regularly do this process to keep fleas off your pet
You can pick up Bay Leaves at supermarkets
crush bay leaves and rub on your pet's infected skin.
repeat every time you take your pet for a walk
Mix 2 cups of rosemary leaves with one liter of water
boil the water for at least 30 minutes let it cool off
this infusion can be rubbed into the dogs infested areas
let it dry naturally on your dog's fur
How to Naturally Protect your dog from fleas and ticks
Wash your dog with Head and shoulders Shampoo
also, a way to kill off almost all the fleas in your dog's fur
comb through tour dogs hair to remove any fleas still stuck to clean it.
A natural chemical-free, flea and tick spray for your dog
Made with essential oils, it can help prevent or relieve itching, irritation, and swelling.
Perfect for your adventurous dogs who go on hikes, parks, hunting, or just being outside. Protect your dog naturally from outside pests.
Many Essential oils like thyme, witch hazel, lemongrass, tea tree, eucalyptus, rosemary, citronella, lavender, sweet almond oil, linalool, clove, rue, neem (Indian Lilac), juniper, lemon, geranium, cinnamon, bergamot, cedar, pennyroyal are used to remove fleas
Also cedarwood, lemongrass, peppermint, and thyme are regularly used to get rid of fleas naturally.
When to See a Vet
If, after trying some of the home remedies, your dog continues to scratch or doesn’t appear to be getting any relief, it’s best to make an appointment with your vet.
In some cases, your dog’s gums may appear more pale than usual. This paleness could indicate anemia, which may be associated with a significant flea problem. If your dog starts to lose fur, it could be related to fleas, too. In more extreme cases, your dog may need medical attention.