Due to the rains this year, the spring of 2019 is starting off as an especially bad flea season in Silver Lake, Los Feliz, Echo Park, and Los Angeles. It appears that some of the topical flea treatments like Frontline and Advantage that worked well in the past are not doing the trick in some flea infested regions. Here are some natural flea remedies for dogs and cats that you can do at home to help fight these pesky critters. I am giving you two types of advice, “sprouty “and “not so sprouty.”
Here’s Jula’s Sprouty Advice for Your Yard and/or Home Infestation:
I have recently been using food grade diatomaceous earth for flea treatment.
It is very inexpensive and natural. It is a silica product from dry lake beds made of tiny hard algae fossils called diatoms. These fossilized diatoms naturally kill negatively charged pests by piercing their exoskeletons which inadvertantly dehydrates them. You can spread the food grade diatomaceous earth all over your yard and you can even dust it in your house (I don’t recommend this because it is very messy, but it’s a good solution if you have a very bad infestation. It also kills bedbugs.). You need to wear a mask when you distribute it because even though it is non toxic–the particles are so tiny that it isn’t great for your lungs to breathe when it is floating in the air like a little dust cloud. It will settle in once you put it down–but be prepared to get the stuff all over you. It is very dusty to use and can be a bit drying to the skin; but it is non toxic and washes off easily. It is very light like talcum powder and you can shake it out of a pastry shaker to get the most even coverage. You can also take an old coffee can–pour it in there and pierce the top with lots of holes so you can shake it out.
You can buy DE online or at a local feed store. Stephens Hay and Grain in Glendale sells a 40 lb bag for $21.99 and a 4lb bag for $4. http://www.yelp.com/biz/stephens-hay-and-grain-glendale. Since they use it for horse corrals and domestic animal farms, almost every feed store carries it—so you can call around to get the best price. It is better to buy it locally to avoid shipping charges. Make sure you get the food grade type and not the industrial type. Diatomaceous Earth is also an excellent dewormer for dogs and humans. For instructions on how to use this natural solution for flea abatement/pet deworming consult these sites:
A lot of gardeners use DE to get rid of aphids and unwanted pests in their garden. This is powerful stuff.
Another thing that we use at Dog Camp LA/Ventura is orange oil.
It is completely natural and is produced solely from oranges. Often referred to as cold pressed orange oil, it is the very first capture of the oil found in the peels and rind of oranges. Orange oil is comprised mainly of d-limonene, 90% or greater. The remaining components are all found in the peel naturally (see Wikipedia orange oil for more definitions.) In addition, orange oil, or more preferably, d-limonene, has natural and proven pesticidal efficacy and is used in formulating flea dips and sprays. You can buy Citrus King orange oil online from Citrus depot at http://www.citrusdepot.net/shop/orange-oil/. Buy a Hudson sprayer and be prepared to use the a full gallon of solution on your yard. The yard mix consists of orange oil, 20% white vinegar, water, and dish soap. Fleas and other pests do not dig this stuff. It is also a good weed killer if you need to get rid of some stubborn weeds naturally. If you are feeling ambitious you can spray this stuff undiluted directly onto the exterior of your wood house. (It kills termites and other wood boring pests–and I read that this is what the exterminator’s do–but they charge a pretty penny for it.)
Flea Treatment for Your Pet:
If your pet has a healthy coat and a good immune system, very often fleas will not infest them. There are many options for natural external flea abatement in books and online. Some vets will tell you about them and others will shake their heads because they aren’t all FDA approved. People like to take the easy way out when it comes to pests and unfortunately that can mean administering poisons to your pets and your environment. Some of the things you can try are:
Dusting some diatomaceous earth on your pet and your pet’s bedding -This method works, but can really dry out your pet’s skin. Only use a very small amount and wear a mask. You can cover your pet’s snout with a towel. Shampoo your pet within 12 hours and put some coconut oil on your pet’s coat afterwards to ease the drying effect.
Give your pet an orange oil bath – Fleas hate this stuff. You must dilute it in pet shampoo. When you wash your pet, the fleas will magically fall off and your pet will smell like delicious oranges. Unfortunately, the fleas will jump right back on your very clean dog unless you can get the fleas at your place under control. You can dilute the industrial degreaser in your dog shampoo for flea dips and you can add a few capfuls to your floor cleaner to kill fleas in your hardwood floors. Sometimes you can get orange oil from home depot but if you buy it online you can get it in a larger quantity for a cheaper price. This company has a good price http://www.citrusdepot.net/shop/industrial-degreaser/. Orange oil will strip the flea meds off your dog–so you will need to make sure and wait a few days for the dog’s natural oils to return if you want to dose your pet with flea meds. Also–we don’t recommend doing this bath right after applying flea meds, because it will make them ineffective. For a lighter flea bath try products with Neem oil. It is less astringent and smells good— but it is less effective on a bad flea infestation. Neem oil can be used while your pet is on flea meds if you wait 3-4 days after you dose them.
Spraying Peppermint, eucalyptus, orange, pine, cedarwood, lemongrass, lavender, and clove essential oils daily on bedding and on pets makes an inhospitable environment for fleas-Here is a good recipe from an essential oils website. http://www.experience-essential-oils.com/homemade-flea-treatment.html
1/2 cup of Distilled water
6-8 Drops Purification Essential Oil
2-4 Drops Palo Santo Essential Oil
1 Drop of Thieves Hand Soap or Castile Soap (emollient)
Place in a spray bottle and shake. Spritz daily to stay flea free!
PETA has a a great website- with some great ideas including getting nematodes that eat fleas in your yard, and more info on essential oils that fleas loathe: http://www.peta.org/living/companion-animals/abcs-cruelty-free-flea-control/
Use a fine flea comb on your pet to check and see if it has fleas or flea dirt. Keep a bowl of soapy water nearby to drown the fleas in.
Vacuum everyday to pick up fleas and eggs- If you have a vacuum that has a bag–dump it out and put it in the freezer to kill any eggs that you may have picked up.
Feed your pets high quality food with omegas 3, 6, and 9, probiotics, garlic, and B12 vitamins in it or added to it to give your pets a more flea resistant coat – Raw food is great if you can do it, and making your own fresh food is even better. For those of you who don’t have the time for that–Here is a list of the highest rated kibble. Some of them are very high in fat so make sure and read the labels and exercise your little buddy so you don’t end up with a porky little dude. You can also look into adding borage oil, flax, and salmon oil to your pet’s meal if their food is not giving them all 3 of the omegas. I give all my pets Grizzly salmon oil and Solid Gold sea meal supplement and it makes their coats nice and shiny. You can get it at Petco online but I found both for a bit cheaper on Amazon:
Not so Sprouty Flea Advice:
Even though they are not so great for your pets—Advantage and Frontline have always worked well to treat fleas. You don’t want your pets to get fleas not only because you and they can suffer from the bites—but also because the fleas can carry worm larvae so when your pet eats a flea, they can end up getting some nasty internal parasites. As prefaced earlier, in some regions there are fleas that are becoming resistant to certain topical flea med formulas. If what you are doing works for you—no need to change it up–but you might want to try other options if you are having flea trouble and the natural ways are not cutting it for you. The natural methods take diligence and patience. I personally use a combination of the natural flea remedies and the topical or oral meds because when you run a camp for dogs–you can’t really take any chances. I used to recommend Advantage and Frontline to my clients, but lately I have been recommending these other products for people who need more than the natural methods of control:
Topical solutions that seem to work well: Revolution (get it by prescription from your vet) and K9Advantix (available online and at pet stores). For cats we have been recommending Revolution and Cheristin. Both need prescriptions from a vet.
Oral meds that work fast: Comfortis and Trifexis (Only available by prescription from your vet)
Some of these treatments will also protect your dog from heartworm, ticks, and other parasites.
If the natural stuff doesn’t work—these meds will kick those fleas to the curb. Some people use these products during high flea season, and then switch to the natural remedies when it gets cold and the fleas are not a problem.
Most of the methods I have mentioned above, I have implemented myself. I am not a flea abatement specialist–just a concerned environmentalist and animal lover. Some of these treatments are potentially hazardous for dogs, cats, and humans if done incorrectly or in excess. Please use these methods with caution and do some research them before you try them. Please let us know your results. I found very little directives on the internet on how to use these remedies; but hopefully my research will benefit you and help to send you in the right direction.
For more flea remedies and tips check out: