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 has a high pH level, and it 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.
What kills fleas on dogs instantly home remedies? ›
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar's slightly acidic pH level creates an inhospitable environment for fleas. Mix six cups of ACV with four cups of water (use a 6:4 ratio), add a pinch of salt, and spray the mixture on your dog's coat and underbelly, making sure to avoid their eyes and any wounds they may have.
The fastest options for killing fleas with prescription medication are Comfortis or Trifexis, which also work as effective preventative medications. “Both products contain the active ingredient spinosad, which will begin killing fleas within 30 minutes of ingesting the tablet,” Dr.How do I get rid of fleas on my dog when there's nothing works? ›
Just lukewarm water, or water and a mild soap, can help get fleas off your pet's fur and skin. The dish soap can help to drown adult fleas. If you're thinking about using a flea shampoo or something similar, talk to your veterinarian first. It can strip oils from your pet's fur and dry out their skin.What is the best homemade flea killer? ›
This natural powerhouse also can kill fleas! 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 household item kills fleas? ›
- Use baking soda. ...
- Sprinkle salt. ...
- Lemon spray. ...
- Wash all bedding in hot, soapy water. ...
- Use rosemary. ...
- Hire a steam cleaner. ...
- Use a powerful vacuum. ...
- Use a pet-safe flea spray.
- Try an Oral Flea Treatment. ...
- Use a Spot-on (Topical) Treatment. ...
- Use a Flea Collar. ...
- Give Your Pet a Bath. ...
- Treat Your Home as Well as Your Pet. ...
- Kick Fleas to the Curb Year-Round.
Choose an insecticide that contains both an adulticide (kills adult fleas), such as permethrin, and an insect growth regulator (kills the eggs, larvae, and pupae), such as methoprene or pyriproxyfen.What kills fleas in 30 minutes? ›
ORAL FLEA TREATMENT
CAPSTAR® (nitenpyram) oral tablets start killing adult fleas in just 30 minutes. Watch the dead fleas fall off your pet.
Isopropyl alcohol can be toxic to pets
You shouldn't spray or pour isopropyl alcohol onto your pet's fur or skin in an attempt to kill fleas. This toxic chemical is easily absorbed through the skin, and in large enough amounts it's poisonous to pets.
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. If your pet doesn't enjoy getting sprayed, dip a brush in the mixture and distribute it into their fur with a grooming session.
What smells will keep fleas away? ›
Strong odors like eucalyptus, lavender, clove, citrus, peppermint and citronella work as effective repellents. Cedar beds for dogs are so popular because of their ability to repel fleas. The scent won't kill fleas but it does effectively repel them.What do fleas hate on dogs? ›
Citrus Juice: fleas dislike citrus, so try sprinkling some fresh-squeezed lemon, orange or grapefruit juice on your dog's fur (being careful to avoid her eyes) – and remember lemon juice can lighten dark hair.What is the cheapest way to get rid of fleas? ›
Much like baking soda, salt is a great natural flea home remedy when accompanied by vacuuming. Salt acts as a dehydration agent, helping to get rid of adult fleas. To treat fleas with this natural remedy take some salt (finely ground works best) and sprinkle it all over your carpets in each room.How does baking soda get rid of fleas on dogs? ›
Baking soda does not kill adult fleas and will do nothing to protect your pets. It is excellent at absorbing smells and has been suggested by some online pet sites for use as a flea killer because it “may” dry out flea eggs and larvae. But there is no evidence that using baking soda to kill fleas is effective at all.Why won't the fleas go away? ›
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.
Citronella is best known as a mosquito deterrent, but it also repels fleas. These beautiful flowers put off a natural chemical called pyrethrum that repels fleas, ticks and other insects. This ornamental tree puts off an aroma that doesn't appeal to fleas, nor does its waxy leaves.How do you get rid of 100 percent fleas? ›
For some serious infestations, steam cleaning before vacuuming is necessary. The heat will kill almost all of the adult fleas, but may not kill all of the eggs. Continue to vacuum every other day after the steam cleaning to make sure you are killing fleas as they hatch.What is a good cheap flea treatment for dogs? ›
- Pupper Omega.
- NexGard Flea and Tick Chewables. ...
- Capstar Oral Flea Treatment for Dogs. ...
- Bravecto Chewable. ...
- PetArmor Plus Flea and Tick Prevention for Dogs. ...
- Advantus (Imidacloprid) 30-Count Chewable Flea Treatment for Large Dogs. ...
- PetArmor CAPACTION (nitenpyram) Oral Flea Treatment for Dogs.
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."
The most effective ones contain ingredients such as permethrin, imidacloprid, or dinotefuran that are lethal to the biting adult stage, and an “insect growth regulator” (e.g., methoprene, pyriproxyfen) that halts development of flea eggs and larvae.
Why does my dog keep getting fleas even after treatment? ›
If your dog is constantly being reinfested with fleas after treatment, it is most likely there is an environmental infestation in or around your house. The adult fleas we see on pets represent only 5% of the total population. The other 95% are immature stages in the environment.What kills fleas and eggs on contact? ›
Hot, soapy water kills fleas, so wash your cat or dog's bed every week. And if your pets sleep in your bed or with your kids, make sure to wash everyone else's bedding, too.Can I spray dawn on my dog for fleas? ›
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.What does lemon do to 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. Place in boiling water for 5-10 minutes.What dish soap kills fleas? ›
“Dawn (and other soaps like it) creates a kind of surfactant, or surface tension, that will compromise the exoskeleton and make adult fleas sink,” he says. So essentially, the soap drowns the fleas.Does Dawn dish soap get rid of fleas on dog? ›
No, Dawn dish soap should not be used as a regular flea treatment for pets. Although Dawn dish soap can kill fleas, it should not be used as a flea treatment for pets because it could irritate their skin and coat, or be harmful if ingested.What ingredient kills fleas on dogs? ›
The most effective ones contain ingredients such as permethrin, imidacloprid, or dinotefuran that are lethal to the biting adult stage, and an “insect growth regulator” (e.g., methoprene, pyriproxyfen) that halts development of flea eggs and larvae.What's the best flea remedy for dogs? ›
- Finding the right treatment. ...
- Frontline® Flea Spray for Dogs and Cats. ...
- Frontline® Plus for Dogs and Cats. ...
- Seresto™ Flea and Tick Collar for Dogs and Cats. ...
- Capstar® Flea Control for Dogs and Cats. ...
- Advantage® II for Dogs and Cats. ...
- Sentry Fiproguard for Cats. ...
- Effix for Dogs.
Ingredients for homemade dog wash: Water, white vinegar, and Dawn Dish Soap. Using Dawn is recommended because it works best for killing fleas where other brands may not, and it's the safest for your pet. If your dog has a strong odor, rinse him with white vinegar to remove the stink.Why do fleas go to 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.
Does apple cider vinegar work for 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.Can fleas live in human hair? ›
First, is it possible for fleas to live in human hair? The short answer is no. There are more than 2000 types of fleas around the globe. However, there is no evidence that these insects can live on the human body or scalp.Can I vacuum fleas off my dog? ›
Many a housekeeper has long wondered if vacuuming is sufficient to get rid of fleas. Finally, a study shows vacuuming is indeed an effective weapon.