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This blog post was originally published in May 2015. It has been updated with new information.
10 Common Flea Myths
[Originally shared by Only Natural Pet in 2015]
- Healthy dogs don't get fleas
- Fleas only live on dogs, not in the house
- Once you get rid of fleas, your good
- Keeping your home clean prevents fleas
- Topical flea and tick treatments are safe for dogs
- Veterinarians can prevent fleas
- Flea collars are safe for dogs
- If your dog only has a few fleas, no big deal
- There are no fleas in winter
- Fleas can't be treated naturally
Flea season in the Pacific Northwest lasts from May to November. And it can last longer if you are hosting generations of flea families in your carpets and furniture. In this blog post, I’m going to share how I’m able to protect my dogs (and myself) from the annoyance of flea bites without resorting to harsh chemical repellents.
Fleas and Diet
I’m very fortunate, because [knock on wood] our dogs don't get fleas for several reasons. One of those reasons is because I feed a raw diet and fleas don't like the taste of healthy, raw fed dogs; preferring dogs that eat a high carb diet (aka kibble). Feeding raw isn’t a guarantee that a dog won’t get fleas, but it’s a great first step.
I also add garlic to my dogs’ diet because, YES, GARLIC IS SAFE FOR DOGS TO EAT. It seems like anytime mentions feeding garlic to dogs, someone comments about the dangers of feeding garlic to dogs.
I would never feed my dogs the amount of garlic it would take to harm them. Instead, I add 3-4 cloves of garlic when preparing fermented vegetables and add that to their diet. That’s 3-4 cloves of garlic in an 8-quart bowl of vegetables, fermented and then shared by four dogs over a few months.
Benefits of Garlic for Dogs
- Garlic turns our dogs into natural flea and tick repellents
- Garlic helps to fight cancer by destroying cancer cells.
- Garlic acts as a natural detox.
- Garlic stops the formation of blood clots in the system.
- Garlic reduces cholesterol.
- Garlic is a natural antibiotic, anti-fungal and anti-parasitic.
Feeding Garlic to Dogs
If fleas are a huge issue for you, I recommend adding garlic to your dog’s meals. Using the serving guide below, crush the clove(s) of garlic, allow to sit for 20 minutes, then mix into your dog’s raw meal. I suggest starting once a week to see how it works for your dog.
- 10 to 15 pounds – half a clove.
- 20 to 40 pounds – 1 clove.
- 45 to 70 pounds – 2 cloves.
- 4.5 to 6.8 kg – half a clove.
- 9.1 to 18.1 kg – 1 clove
- 20.4 to 31.8 kg – 2 cloves.
These dosage amounts were derived by Dr. Pitcairn in his book The Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats.
Fleas and Sunshine
Another reason our dogs don’t have fleas is that 99% of our property is exposed to sunlight.
“Well these garden fleas love to live in damp, moist places where sunlight cannot reach them. It’s interesting to note that fleas cannot exist in broad sunlight, hence why they hide under hair, etc.”~ TheBugSquad.com
I have hayfever, which has made me exempt from yard work until now. J now has a business that takes up a big chunk of his time, so I’m now helping him maintain our property and this weekend I’ll be walking around with clippers and hedge trimmers to trim back plants and trees, exposing more of the ground to sunlight.
I also worked several weekends planting and transplanting flowers and plants that naturally repel fleas and other pests:
- Basil – repels fleas, mosquitoes, and houseflies
- Catnip – repels fleas and mosquitoes
- Citronella – repels mosquitoes
- Lavender – repels mosquitoes, fleas, flies, and moths
- Marigold – repels mosquitoes and aphids, they also discourage the deer from eating my vegetables
- Peppermint – repels fleas, mosquitoes, spiders (which I actually like), and ants
- Rosemary – repels fleas and ticks
Of course, my gardening tips fly out the window if you hike with your dogs or go to dog parks and fields. I sign my dogs up for SniffSpots around my area once a month during the summer months.
SniffSpot is a local company that allows property owners to rent their yard/property to dog parents who are looking for an alternative to dog parks. The SniffSpot I prefer is also exposed to plenty of sunlight, but there are a lot of shady areas that the dogs love to explore. Before we go to the property, I spray all of the dogs with Wondercide to protect them from fleas and ticks.
Fleas and Essential Oils
My experience with Young Living did nothing to dampen my love of essential oils. I now order my oils from Simply Earth (they also offer a subscription service) and Plant Therapy. I use the oils to make my own flea and tick repellents, dog shampoo, dog conditioner, and deodorant, and when cleaning our home.
Essential Oils that Repel Fleas
- Basil essential oil
- Catnip essential oil
- Cedarwood essential oil
- Clove essential oil
- Lavender essential oil
- Lemon essential oil
- Lemongrass essential oil
- Peppermint essential oil
- Rosemary essential oil
- Thyme essential oil
You can use essential oils to make natural flea collars (using bandanas) or you can do what I do and add 20 drops of your favorite oil to a large spray bottle and spray the dogs' bedding, the rugs, and the furniture every other day. It not only kills fleas, but it freshens the house.
To learn more about how to safely use essential oils with dogs, check out the Animal Desk Reference guide by Dr. Melissa Shelton.
Natural Shampoo that Repels Fleas
If you don’t want to go through the trouble of creating your own products, I highly recommend shampoo by 4-Legger. This is THE ONLY shampoo that I will use on my dogs because the ladies who formulate 4-Legger products care about sourcing, ingredients, and our dogs. I know that everything in their shampoo is safe for my dogs and it works. My dogs have never smelled better for longer.
I’ve been using Wondercide for years and find their spray effective. It’s not full-proof, nothing is, but it does work. A friend of mine took her dogs on a hike and picked 4 ticks off of each of them. She was disappointed because she treated the dogs with Wondercide. What she learned was that without Wondercide, her dogs would have been covered in ticks. Also, Wondercide may not repel all fleas and ticks, but it will stop or slow them down when they go to bite our dogs. Eventually, they’ll fall off in search of a better meal.
It is disappointing that they changed their formulation when they lost a source for one of their ingredients, but this change doesn’t make their product any less effective.
- Read More about Wondercide’s ingredient change
I can’t guarantee that if you do everything I’m doing that you’ll be flea free, but I think it’ll get you and your dogs on the right path.
Read More About How I Repel Fleas
- Why Flea Prevention is Necessary for Our Dogs
- Alternatives to Flea and Tick Collars for Dogs
- Essential Oil Recipes for Dogs by Simply Earth
Mind Jam about Fleas, Ticks, and Keeping Our Pets Safe