Fleas: the dreaded pests that no pet owner wants to see on their dog. These pesky little parasites feed on your canine friend's blood, make Fido itch like crazy, and potentially lead to more serious health troubles if the issue isn't dealt with.
What's worse, fleas use their large back legs to jump around, sometimes to distances of a foot or more. They can infest other pets in your home, as well as your bedding and furniture, if you don't take steps to eradicate them.
Clearly, you'll want to identify and treat a flea infestation in your dog as soon as you can. But many pet owners worry about the chemicals in flea collars and other standard treatment options. Luckily, you can try different home remedies to get rid of these pests on your dog and around your home.
Let's take a look at some telltale signs of a flea infestation so that you know what to watch out for. Then, we'll discuss some home remedies for fleas on dogs.
Signs of a Flea Infestation on Your Dog
You can see adult fleas with the naked eye, although it isn't always easy. But most of the time, you'll notice the symptoms of a flea infestation before you notice the fleas themselves.
The common symptoms of fleas include:
- Intense itching and scratching, especially around the neck and shoulder area
- Inflammation of the skin
- Tiny red dots on the skin (flea bites)
- Scabbing on the skin
- Hair loss
Another telltale sign of fleas is flea droppings, also known as flea dirt. These look like tiny specks of black pepper on your dog's skin.
Running a flea comb through your pet's hair can reveal the flea dirt. You can also collect some of the flea dirt and wet it. If it turns red, it's flea poop (the red color happens because of the digested blood).
7 Top Home Remedies for Fleas on Dogs
You've confirmed the presence of fleas on your dog, either by symptoms, the presence of flea dirt, visible fleas in your dog's coat, or all of the above. Now what?
Here are some of the best flea remedies for you to try at home:
1. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil contains a fatty acid called lauric acid, a component that kills fleas. The fat covers the flea's exoskeleton and essentially suffocates the pest.
Only apply coconut oil to your dog's coat outdoors. Because the acid works as a natural flea repellent, the pests may leap out of your dog's fur. Work the oil through Fido's fur and on the skin, all over the body. After you’ve thoroughly coated your dog, bring them indoors and bathe them to get rid of the oil.
2. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar works as a natural flea repellent. You can use apple cider vinegar in two ways to try and kill fleas: by having your dog drink it or by applying it to your dog's coat.
For the drinking method, add a tablespoon or so of the vinegar to your dog's water bowl. (Check with your vet for an exact amount.) Keep in mind that vinegar is bitter, so your dog might not like the taste. If your pet refuses to drink the mixture, direct application might be a better choice. Make sure you apply the correct amount and concentration.
To apply it to your dog's coat, mix apple cider vinegar with water (consult your vet for a ratio of vinegar to water). Then, either add the mixture to a spray bottle and spray it all over your dog (avoid the face and eyes) or dip a washcloth in the mixture and apply it to your dog's fur.
3. Citrus Bath
Like vinegar, citrus also works well for repelling fleas. It's great for using directly on your dog as well as around your home.
Mix lemon juice and warm water and follow the process described above. Again, you’ll use a spray bottle to apply the homemade flea spray to your dog's coat and areas around your home. Or, you can mix the citrus mixture with a little pet shampoo and give your dog a bath.
4. Essential Oils
You can use essential oils to deal with a flea problem, but be careful. Certain essential oils can be toxic to dogs, including tea tree oil, pennyroyal, pine oils, and wintergreen oils.
Using a dog-safe essential oil like lavender or peppermint, however, may be a natural way to get rid of fleas and their larvae. Place a single drop of the oil at your dog's neck, or dilute the oils with water and apply to your dog's entire coat with a spray bottle. The aroma of these oils repels fleas. You can also use this method as a preventative measure.
5. Diatomaceous Earth
The diatomaceous earth method of flea control is for your home, not your dog themself. Diatomaceous earth is a powder-like substance that damages fleas' exoskeletons, drawing moisture out of their bodies to kill them. You might want to use this method in your home at the same time your dog is undergoing their own flea treatment.
Sprinkle food-grade diatomaceous earth around your home, including on bedding, furniture, baseboards, and anywhere else you think fleas might be hiding. All it takes is some vacuuming a few hours later to clean up the diatomaceous earth and, hopefully, the dead fleas along with it.
6. Baking Soda and Salt
This is another method for your home, not your dog themselves. A mixture of baking soda and salt dehydrates fleas and flea eggs. Combine equal parts baking soda and salt, and sprinkle the mixture liberally around your home or yard. After a few hours, vacuum the area thoroughly.
You can use this pest-control method in the yard. Nematodes are tiny worms that live in soil and eat insect larvae, including flea larvae. Get nematodes at your local garden center or order them online. Mix them with water, and spray the mixture around your yard. It's a great way to keep fleas away before they’re a problem, too.
When to See Your Veterinarian
If a flea infestation is severe or home remedies aren't working, it's time to visit the vet.
It's also possible that your dog has flea allergy dermatitis (FAD), a condition in which your dog is allergic to flea saliva. This causes symptoms like severe itching and inflammation, hair loss, crusting of the skin, and hot spots. Your vet can prescribe medicated shampoo. Your pet might also need antibiotics to help with secondary infections or even steroids to help the skin heal.
If your pet's itching and scratching is severe or you see inflammation, hot spots, bald patches, crusting or scabbing on the skin, or anything else that concerns you, contact your vet's office for help.
Flea Prevention Tips for Dog Owners
Just like any health problem, preventing fleas is better than dealing with them after the fact. Prevent a flea infestation in your dog by:
- Using a flea preventative: Prescribed products are the most effective and simplest way to ward off fleas before they infest your pet. Talk to your vet if your dog needs a flea preventative.
- Checking for fleas regularly: As described above, use a flea comb on your dog once every few weeks to look for fleas or flea dirt.
- Maintaining your yard: Fleas like to hide in overgrown grass and shrubs, so maintaining your yard is a good way to keep fleas at bay. You can also use the diatomaceous earth method or nematode solutions described above as preventative measures for the yard.
- Keeping your home clean: Regularly vacuum and shampoo and clean carpets and furniture. A clean home keeps fleas away.
Home Remedies for Fleas on Dogs: What to Know
It's no fun when your dog has fleas. Before resorting to flea collars and other methods, you might want to try some natural home remedies. From apple cider vinegar, citrus baths, and coconut oil to pest-control methods for the home and/or yard like diatomaceous earth and nematodes, a variety of solutions might work for you. Consult with your veterinarian to make sure these methods are safe and effective for your dog.
If a flea infestation is severe or you see symptoms like hot spots, scabbing, and constant itching, see your vet. More advanced medical treatment might be necessary.
Is your dog’s problem fleas, or are they just prone to itchy skin? Native Pet's all-natural Omega Oil may be able to help. The formula can help reduce itching and scratching and promote healthy skin and fur.
Learn more about your dog's health and wellness by visiting the Native Pet blog here.
Vinegar. Combine 1 quart of water, 1 cup of white vinegar or apple cider vinegar, and 1 cup of baby shampoo or liquid dish soap. Use this mixture to bathe your dog once or twice a month. Vinegar kills fleas and ticks on contact and can prevent future infestations.What can I put on my dog that is natural to kill fleas? ›
Vinegar. Combine 1 quart of water, 1 cup of white vinegar or apple cider vinegar, and 1 cup of baby shampoo or liquid dish soap. Use this mixture to bathe your dog once or twice a month. Vinegar kills fleas and ticks on contact and can prevent future infestations.What is the best homemade flea killer? ›
Create a flea spray by mixing 4 liters of vinegar, 2 liters of water, 500 ml of lemon juice and 250 ml of witch hazel in a large spray bottle. Before applying the product around your home, you should vacuum properly, emptying the contents into an outside bin, and wash any bedding/cushions that could be infested.Does Dawn dish soap kill fleas on dogs? ›
Although Dawn kills fleas, veterinarians say it doesn't repel them or prevent infestations. Think of it as more of a temporary fix than a permanent solution.Can I put baking soda directly on my dog to kill fleas? ›
By mixing baking soda and salt into a formula you are making a dehydrating agent. This will dry out the fleas, their eggs, and the larvae. This will kill them off so that they do not reproduce and spread. The main point of handling a flea infestation is to stop it from spreading.Can I put vinegar on my dog to repel fleas? ›
Apple cider vinegar can't kill fleas, but it can help to repel them. Fleas don't like the smell or taste of it, so they're likely to avoid your pet if they have it on their fur. Dilute apple cider vinegar in water and add it to a spray bottle.What is an instant homemade flea killer? ›
Mix 1/4 cup of distilled vinegar with 3/4 cup water in a spray bottle for a homemade flea spray. Use the spray on any water safe surfaces you've noticed fleas on. You can also add vinegar to the wash when cleaning color safe pet beds and linens.What do fleas hate the most? ›
Citronella, eucalyptus, peppermint, tea tree, and rosemary will all naturally repel fleas. If your dog doesn't mind a spray bottle, dilute a few drops of your chosen essential oil into a 300ml-400ml of water and spray directly onto your dog's coat.Can I make a flea spray with Dawn dish soap? ›
Dawn dish soap will drown fleas that are on your pet, killing them quickly. However, it does nothing to prevent reinfection with fleas, so you are likely to see an ongoing flea issue with your pet unless you switch to a proper preventative flea product.What will kill fleas on contact? ›
Any soap will kill them, so you don't have to use a flea bath. But make sure that the soap you use is safe for a cat or dog. Some people like to finish the bath with a nice-smelling essential oil that may also help keep fleas away.
Wait 5 minutes, then rinse all of the soap off of your pet's fur. Allow about 5 minutes for the dish soap to completely kill the fleas before you begin rinsing. Use a cup of water or a handheld shower head to wash the soap off. Start from the top of your pet's body and work your way down towards the tail.How do you get rid of fleas fast? ›
- Use a powerful vacuum on any floors, upholstery, and mattresses. ...
- Employ a steam cleaner for carpets and upholstery, including pet beds. ...
- Wash all bedding, including your pet's, in hot water and detergent.
Mopping and steam cleaning can help to kill flea eggs, and washing linens, bedding, and pet beds in the washing machine on the hot cycle is also advisable.Why is it so hard to get rid of fleas on my dog? ›
Getting rid of fleas is a difficult process due to the long lifecycle of a flea. Moderate to severe infestations will take months to control and require a four-step process for complete elimination: Sanitation. Thoroughly clean areas where fleas frequently breed.Will dog fleas eventually go away? ›
You might be asking yourself will fleas eventually go away? While some could last 2 – 3 weeks, they could also live for up to 12 months on the host it finds, so it is unlikely they will go away on their own. Fleas can also reproduce very quickly by laying eggs in carpet, bedding, or garden prolonging the infestation.Can hydrogen peroxide kill fleas on dogs? ›
For less severe infestations, simply fill up a spray bottle with water, 1 cup peroxide, and three tablespoons of dish soap. Spray your pet every alternate day to remove any existing fleas and kill the eggs they laid. This should keep your animal healthy and free of parasites.Can I spray my dog with rubbing alcohol to kill fleas? ›
Rubbing alcohol does kill fleas on contact. However, it's not a good way to tackle a flea infestation. Alcohol can be toxic to animals. It's easily absorbed through their skin, and if they ingest a large enough amount, it could be fatal.Can I put salt on my dog to kill fleas? ›
Salt can dehydrate fleas, and it's thought a swim in the sea, or a salty bath can kill the fleas on your dog. However, salt can also cause irritation and dryness on your dog's skin. So don't overdo it.What naturally kills fleas? ›
You can use white vinegar or apple cider vinegar, which is both effective in dealing with pests. Mixing essential oils like cedar or lavender can make the solution powerful. You can damp cloth with a vinegar solution on infested areas and on your pets to ensure that all fleas will be gone for good.What smell do fleas hate? ›
Natural flea repellents such as citronella, eucalyptus, peppermint, and geraniol may naturally repel fleas. If your pet doesn't mind a spray bottle, dilute a few drops of your chosen repellent into 10-13 fl oz of water and spray directly onto your pet's coat.
It is also an insect repellant and kills fleas," says Jose. "This is the major substance in Vicks, aside from Vicks use in upper respiratory infections, that can be used to repel mosquitoes and even fleas."Can I put lemon juice on my dog for fleas? ›
Lemons can be a safe and easy way to treat skin problems and repel fleas in dogs and cats. You can make an easy lemon rinse in a spray bottle (see recipe below) to spritz your pet to help repel fleas and soothe the skin in dogs and cats.What makes fleas worse? ›
Fleas live and breed in warm, moist places, so infestations are usually worse in the summer months. While flea activity does slow down in winter months, it doesn't completely stop. The warmth of your home provides the ideal environment for fleas during the colder months.Will vinegar get rid of fleas? ›
While Apple Cider Vinegar does not kill fleas, it may repel them because fleas dislike its smell and taste. One of the most simple ways to use this natural flea repellent is to make a solution out of equal parts apple cider vinegar and water.What kills flea eggs? ›
Hot Water. Washing linens and bedding in water that is 140 degrees or hotter will be effective to destroy most flea eggs. Steam cleaning carpets after vacuuming can also help to kill remaining flea eggs.Will baby powder kill fleas? ›
If you must use baby powder as flea treatment, then apply it on your carpets or you can create a flea trap with them. Fleas are well-known 'jumpers'. Simply keep a bowl filled with baby powder in strategic places in the house. Fleas will jump into these bowls and be trapped, thereby killing them effectively.How do you get rid of fleas fast without bombing? ›
A common recommendation to get rid of fleas naturally is to use a mixture that includes vinegar on your pets and the surfaces of your house. When you combine a vinegar-based home remedy with other natural efforts to get rid of fleas—such as vacuuming thoroughly and often—you should see results.Why do fleas jump into soapy water? ›
Fleas are so light weight that they can bounce right off the surface of the water because the surface tension of the water prevents them from breaking through. Adding the dish soap reduces the surface tension so the fleas slip through and drown.What laundry detergent kills fleas? ›
If you love giving your dog a cuddle in bed or on the couch, launder all bedding and blankets to get rid of fleas and eggs. A normal laundry detergent will be enough to kill any fleas on bedding.How many times do I wash my dog to get rid of fleas? ›
You may need to give your dog a flea bath as often as every one to two weeks, as the effective ingredients won't last as long as a topical or oral medication.
Capstar has a rapid onset of action – starts killing fleas within 30 minutes – and continues to rapidly kill fleas for 24 hours.How do you break a flea cycle? ›
Fleas cannot fly, but they move by jumping from object to object. It can take up to 3 months to break a total flea life cycle by using monthly flea treatments. For indoor flea control, vacuuming all floors, carpets, baseboards, pet bedding and furniture will help remove adult fleas and eggs.What happens if a dog has fleas for a long time? ›
Your dog's constant scratching may lead to visible patches of hair loss and reddened, irritated skin. Fleas may also cause skin allergies and can transmit other parasites, such as tapeworms, to your dog.Can fleas live on human hair? ›
Can humans get fleas in their hair? Fleas do not live on humans. They generally bite down at the feet, ankles, and legs by jumping from an infested pet or other animal, but it is most likely to be from an infested pet bed.Why won't fleas stay off my dog? ›
Not treating often enough
Fleas go through a life cycle of egg, larvae, pupae and adult. Most flea treatments just kill adult fleas, but fleas can continue to emerge for months after you think an infestation has ended. When a newly emerged female flea finds a host, she can lay eggs within one day.
Can Fleas Live in Your Bed? These pests infest multiple areas in homes, especially mattresses, cushions, and carpeting. Pets transfer fleas to the beds and furniture where they sleep. From here, the insects quickly spread around the house.Does coconut oil kill fleas on dogs? ›
It repels and kills fleas and ticks on contact – eliminating harmful side effects. Since therapeutic coconut oil is non-toxic, free of chemicals and soothing to your pet's skin, it's the perfect solution to the pest problem.Can I rub lemon on my dog for fleas? ›
Fleas don't care for the scent of lemon ,or the limonene in lemons, so applying it to your pet's coat can deter fleas. Take 6 organic lemons and chop them in half.Will bottled lemon juice kill fleas? ›
Lemon is a great way to repel and kill fleas if you have trouble with them in your home. Many natural flea sprays contain a citrus extract called D-limonene, which repels and kills these biting bugs.Does apple cider vinegar salt and baking soda kill fleas? ›
This mixture is perfect for getting rid of fleas from your house because both the ingredients are effective against them. Apple cider vinegar is more of a repellent but the addition of baking soda makes this solution lethal for fleas.
Citronella, eucalyptus, peppermint, tea tree, and rosemary will all naturally repel fleas. If your dog doesn't mind a spray bottle, dilute a few drops of your chosen essential oil into a 300ml-400ml of water and spray directly onto your dog's coat.What essential oils can I mix for fleas on my dog? ›
Make a natural flea repellent by adding six or seven drops of the essential oils of rosemary, peppermint, eucalyptus, tea tree, and citronella to a cup of water and shaking well. Use a spray bottle to apply the solution to your dog's coat every other day.How long does it take for coconut oil to kill fleas? ›
The lauric acid kills the fleas within 20 seconds, so it is a quick fix for a minor flea problem. Aside from its flea repelling abilities is the use of coconut oil for other skin conditions as well. Coconut oil is also antimicrobial and antifungal, meaning it can help to fight off bacteria and fungus on the skin.Can I rub garlic on my dog for fleas? ›
Garlic as a Chemical Weapon
Garlic is a chemical weapon against fleas. In fact, it's one of my favorite natural remedies for fleas, particularly prevention.
For minor flea infestations, washing your dog with a gentle shampoo, followed by a thorough rinse then spraying on apple cider vinegar diluted with an equal amount of warm water. Allow your dog to drip or shake dry. The vinegar rinse will acidify your pet's skin making it unattractive to fleas and ticks.What dish liquid kills fleas? ›
Dawn dish soap will drown fleas that are on your pet, killing them quickly. However, it does nothing to prevent reinfection with fleas, so you are likely to see an ongoing flea issue with your pet unless you switch to a proper preventative flea product.Will vinegar kill fleas? ›
While Apple Cider Vinegar does not kill fleas, it may repel them because fleas dislike its smell and taste. One of the most simple ways to use this natural flea repellent is to make a solution out of equal parts apple cider vinegar and water.Does peroxide kill fleas? ›
Peroxide is a common insecticide used in gardens and other agricultural sites. Not only does it kill fleas due to its toxic nature, but it can also eradicate other pests from your foliage as well.Does rubbing alcohol kill fleas on dogs? ›
Rubbing alcohol does kill fleas on contact. However, it's not a good way to tackle a flea infestation. Alcohol can be toxic to animals. It's easily absorbed through their skin, and if they ingest a large enough amount, it could be fatal.