Natural Flea Control and Killer
Eco-Friendly Solutions for Natural Flea Treatments, Control and Prevention
Fleas can be a real menace for cats and dogs and getting control of them once they’ve got a foothold in your life can be a huge challenge, especially if you want to use natural flea control methods. Unfortunately, conventional flea control products contain some nasty chemicals that are harmful to you and your pet’s health. So let’s explore some more natural flea control and prevention methods.
Why conventional flea products are unhealthy
Though the strong chemical products you’ll find on the shelf of your local pet store may do the trick of ridding your feline or canine of their flea friends, it can cause them to become sick in other ways. That is because conventional flea products contain pesticides like these:
- Carbamates (carbaryl, porpoxur, fenoxycarb)
- DDVP (Duokill™, No-Pest®, and Duravos®)
- Organophosphates (chlorphyrifos, dichlorvos, phosmet, naled, tetrachlorvinphos, diazinon, and malthion)
- Permethrin (pyrethroid or pyrethrum)
These chemicals can cause convulsions, respiratory distress, nausea and vomiting, cancer, neurotoxicity, and even death not only in your pets, but also in children. Flea collars and sprays create a cloud of these pesticides that you and your pet inhale. They’re also consumed by your pet as it licks and breaths naturally throughout the day.
Sadly, though the labels on these flea products contain warnings about safe handling for you (gloves, masks, etc), they instruct you to douse your pet with these chemicals and then rub them in! This is dangerous logic if you’re interested in having a healthy pet.
Additional health concerns related to flea sprays, foggers, sprays, and bombs include:
- Flammability - some foggers and bombs are flammable
- Inert chemicals like solvents and petrochemicals that are often not listed on products labels, including things like xylene, benzene, asbestos, methyl bromide, toluene, and DDT, all of which have adverse health impacts for your pet.
The Cancer Prevention Coalition even lists some flea treatment products on the “Dirty Dozen” list. If you’re concerned about the products you have in your cupboard, check out GreenPaws’ Flea and Tick Products Directory.
Implementing natural flea control methods
If you’ve already got a flea infestation, you’ll need to deal with it systematically with these natural flea control methods:
- Thorough cleaning: Do a thorough cleaning of your home, including vacuuming all surfaces, paying special attention to damp, dark places where eggs are laid. Throw away or burn the vacuum bag when you’re done.
- Wash bedding: Thoroughly wash all bedding where your pet sleeps (including your own sheets) and tumble them in a hot dryer to kill any leftover bugs.
- Natural flea treatments: Check out our article on DIY natural flea control sprays, bombs, powders, and more as well as our list of natural flea treatments and sprays (below).
What to look for in natural flea control and treatments
Thankfully, there are many safe, natural flea treatments and methods now available for the common pet owners - treatments that pose little risk to you and your pet and are better for the planet, too. How do you identify natural flea control products? Look for ingredients and characteristics like these:
- Pyrethrin: With two varieties, this is a natural pesticide extracted from chrysanthemum flower heads - proven to work over centuries, but should not be used around cats. It is the safest “flea bomb” treatment alternative compared to conventional alternatives. (See the difference between permethrin and pyrethrin here.)
- D-Limonene: This is a byproduct of citrus fruits and works well as a natural pesticide as well.
- Diatomaceous earth: Fleas are vulnerable in the presence of this mineral, and this is the safest option of the three listed here and can be used without caution. It is derived from fossilized algae and is much like chalk dust. It works by getting into the exoskeleton of the fleas which causes them to dehydrate and die.
- Nematodes: These are natural beneficial insects that kill fleas, their larva and pupa. These can be applied outdoors, in kennels, dog runs, near feeding bowls, and so on and won’t harm your outdoor environment.
- Neem oil: This is another flea repellent as the odor is not a favorite of these insects. You can make your own neem oil shampoo or make a spray that your spritz your pet with on a regular basis (see our article on making your own homemade tick treatments).
- Essential oils: Options include like cinnamon, rosemary, wormwood, clove, peppermint, pennyroyal (don’t use this if your pets or humans in the home are pregnant), and cedar wood.
- Resmethrin: Though this is a synthetic chemical, it is a safe alternative if you must bomb your house with a commercial insecticide and cannot find any products made with pyrethrin.
- Chemical free traps: Some flea traps use light, color, and heat to attract flees which are then killed using nontoxic ingredients they consume.
The following natural flea sprays, powders, and other control products are much safer than conventionally-made flea control products and should help you control the little biters without using harmful pesticides:
- Animals’ Apawthecary FidoDerm
- Ark Naturals Neem Protect Spray
- Doc Ackerman’s Botanical Citronella Pet Spray
- ecoPure Naturals flea and tick spray, shampoo, or collar
- Gardens Alive! Flea Control Nematodes
- HappyTails Flea the Scene
- Island Lotions Neem Oil Pet Shampoo
- Natural Chemistry Natural Flea & Tick Sprays
- Only Natural Pet Herbal Defense Spray
- Pal Dog Soothing Spot Spray
- Safer Brand Ant and Crawling Insect Killer (diatomaceous earth)
- SCANMASK Beneficial Nematodes
- Sentry Natural flea control products
- Spot Organics Bug Off Dog Flea Spray (good for ticks as well)
- Springtime Bug Off Garlic
- Vetri-Repel Flea and Tick Spray or Wipes
- Victor The Ultimate Flea Trap
GreenPaws has a great Wallet Guide that will help you find safer alternatives.
Natural flea prevention and repellent techniques
Of course, preventing a flea infestation is much simpler than treating for fleas, and it will create a lot less hassle and heartache for you and your pet, too. These natural flea prevention techniques have been used for decades to keep those pesky fleas out of homes:
- Healthy skin: A pet with healthy skin is much less vulnerable to flea infestations (ticks and worms as well). Be sure to feed your pet high-quality food that will nourish their skin. An improved diet will often help to prevent fleas getting a foothold. Adding a zinc supplement to their diet will also improve skin - 10 mg daily for cats, 20 mg daily for larger dogs for one month.
- Flea comb: Use regularly with your pet to manually remove fleas and drown them with water. Use a container of hot soapy water and use it to rinse the comb after each stroke - examine the water to see if you detect ticks or fleas.
- Launder bedding: Wash your pet bedding on a regular basis to kill fleas in that area.
- Vacuum often: If you have carpeting in your home, be sure to vacuum it at least weekly if you’re prone to flea infestations.
- Treat with lemon water: This mixture helps to repel fleas and tone skin. See our article on DIY flea treatments for relevant recipes.
- Frequent grooming: Give your pet a wash with organic lotion soap on a regular basis (once weekly), and rinse with lemon water. Don’t towel dry.
- Treat outdoors: If you treat your pet with a natural flea control product, be sure to put your pet outdoors for a few hours to make sure fleeing fleas remain outside.
- Garlic flea control: Believe it or not, adding garlic to your pet’s diet can help to prevent fleas from taking hold on your pet since they hate the smell.
- Vitamin B: Brewer’s yeast (known as thiamine, which is Vitamin B) is another great option for adding to your pet’s food. Give 1 mg daily per 5 pounds of body mass.
- Borax or diatomaceous earth: Sprinkle some of either of these products outdoors if you start to see them near your home’s entrance or where your pet plays - especially grassy and moist areas.
- Cedar chips: Place these around your home and under your pet’s bed to deter fleas.
- Pennyroyal plants: These are said to repel fleas naturally, so try having a few potted plants around your home to keep the pests away.
- Minimize watering: Fleas like dampness, so try not to overwater your lawn or garden. This will make your backyard less attractive to them as a site for laying eggs, etc.
If you want to learn more about homemade flea remedies check out our DIY Flea Treatment article.