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Last year, the fleas made it onto the dogs and into the house for a couple of days and that prompted me to make a change to the products I was using to naturally repel fleas and the changes are still working. Finally! We're having a flea and tick-free summer. Even the mosquitoes are leaving us alone and we have three ponds on our property. #knockonwood
The Dangers of Fleas, Ticks, and Mosquitoes
Besides being annoying as hell, fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes can pose a health risk to our dogs. There are dogs that are allergic to fleas (their saliva, actually) and will develop skin irritations, open sores, and scabs. Ticks can pass on diseases like Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, and paralysis. And mosquitoes spread heartworm and although heartworm isn't something that we worry about in the Pacific Northwest (we don't have the environment to support the spread of heartworm), this can change.
The Risks of Chemical Flea and Tick Repellents
Reading up on products like Frontline Plus and Advantage, I learned that, if used correctly, these products won't absorb into the bloodstream. When I read this, I laughed because…WHAT??? I need more information. How are people using it that results in the products ending up in the bloodstream?
In 2019, the FDA came out with a warning about neurological issues with some products, which freaked me out as well. And then there are the individual stories of dogs that had seizures after a spot treatment was applied.
While I'm sure that a veterinarian would tell me that the benefits far outweigh the risks, or that the risks are minimal – I don't want to learn that my dogs fall into that “minimal” range. So I've been using natural products for about a decade.
Products that Naturally Repel Fleas, but Didn't Work for My Dogs
If you start looking for natural products, there is a long list of options, including the following, none of which worked for my dogs:
- diatomaceous earth
- lavendar essential oils
- apple cider vinegar
Maybe I used them incorrectly, not often enough, or just not enough – but I quickly gave up and started using Cedarcide and Wondercide, which I found effective for years. The scent of Cedarcide was too strong for one of my dogs and Wondercide changed an ingredient and people were reporting that it wasn't as effective. I didn't have this experience, but I was concerned enough to find something else instead of waiting for the inevitable flea bites.
Products that Naturally Repel Fleas, Ticks and Mosquitoes
Last year, I asked dog lovers on Facebook what they were using and found effective and three products were mentioned a lot:
So I placed a few orders and never looked back.
Kin+Kind Flea & Tick Dog and Cat Protect Spray
Kin+Kind is a pet product company that offers natural grooming products and supplements. Their flea and tick spray smells amazing without being overwhelming. I even use it on myself before heading out for a walk, to play with the dogs, or dog yard work.
I spray the dogs once a week.
animalEO Essential Oils for Pets
animalEO offers high-quality essential oils formulated by a holistic veterinarian. Dr. Melissa Shelton used to work with Young Living and, today, she has an entire line of SAFE essential oils that we can trust to work on our pets without harm thanks to her passion and high standards.
I have an entire collection of animalEO oils and the three that are effective against biting insects are:
- Away RTU (ready to use) is a blend of eucalyptus, catnip, citronella, lemon tea tree, and copaiba
- Evict RTU is a blend of cedarwood, catnip, eucalyptus, geranium, rosemary, and oregano
- Oust RTU is a blend of geranium, rose geranium, cedarwood, citronella, rosemary, basil, adn thyme
animalEO also offers straight (or Neat) formulas that can be used if you want to create your own products. Because I'm not that skilled at using essential oils with my dogs, I prefer RTU and only use the straight formulas for diffusing.
So, what's the difference between the three oils?
All three oils can be used interchangeably, with Away doubling as a product that freshens up a dog's coat and keeps away that doggy odor.
CocoTherapy Coconut Oil
Therapeutic coconut oil is my jam and I use it for many things, including repelling/killing biting insects. Not only is coconut oil natural and non-toxic, but it also freshens our dogs' coats while soothing their skin.
And one of the main ingredients in coconut oil is lauric acid, which kills fleas and other biting insects practically on contact. And because coconut oil has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, it helps to prevent bites from getting infected, healing the skin.
CocoTherapy suggests that if our dog has fleas (or we suspect fleas), we can “massage a generous amount of coconut oil onto the skin and hair of the animal, making sure to coat the skin well. Leave the oil on for at least 8 hours, then wash your pet with a natural, gentle shampoo.”
While it may be tempting to pick up coconut oil at the grocery store or buy that huge tub at Costco, repelling fleas only works with therapeutic coconut oil, which is why I now only use CocoTherapy products.
Natural Flea Repellents Don't Work for All Dogs
While these products are working great for my dogs, they don't work for all dogs. Many factors can decrease the effectiveness of natural flea repellents, including geography, diet, and health. If you have tried natural alternatives and they haven't been effective, don't beat yourself up about it. You're not alone.
Use Spot Treatments with Natural Treatments
If you find that the only thing that works is the spot treatments, then I suggest limiting the use and combining the stop treatments with a natural treatment. This is how I started years ago and it worked. Instead of using an entire spot treatment on one dog, I'd split it between three dogs once a month and then use a natural flea repellent a couple of times a week to keep the bugs at bay.
Because your dog is expensed to chemicals, I suggest starting your dog on milk thistle a couple of weeks before you start using the spot treatment. Milk thistle is most effective when it's already in the system and protecting the liver.
Create a Garden with a Mix of Plants that Repel Bugs
I have a lovely flower garden and I've planted rosemary, lavender, citronella, lemongrass, marigold, catnip, and other flowers to repel bugs. Next year, I plan to add these plants to the shady areas of the dog's yard.
Get Rid of the Carpet and/or Vacuum Regularly
We got rid of most of the carpet on the main floor where the dogs spend most of their time. I sweep, vacuum (yep, I vacuum the hardwood, tile, bedding, and sofas), and mop every other day to keep the shedded hair to a minimum. I actually don't know if this helps with the fleas, but I'd like to think it does. It definitely helps with the doggy odor and allergies.
Best Vacuum Cleaners for Pet Hair There are a lot of products out there that keep fleas and ticks at bay and I try to avoid anything that can result in neurological issues or long-term side effects. I've also learned to do my homework on natural alternatives too because some of them come with risks as well.