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 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.
Vinegar. Combine 1 quart of water, 1 cup of white vinegar or apple cider vinegar, and 1 cup of baby shampoo or liquid dish soap. Use this mixture to bathe your dog once or twice a month. Vinegar kills fleas and ticks on contact and can prevent future infestations.What naturally kills fleas on dogs? ›
Vinegar. Combine 1 quart of water, 1 cup of white vinegar or apple cider vinegar, and 1 cup of baby shampoo or liquid dish soap. Use this mixture to bathe your dog once or twice a month. Vinegar kills fleas and ticks on contact and can prevent future infestations.What kills fleas on dogs instantly? ›
An oral fast-acting tablet that contains Nitenpyram is the safest way to kill fleas on dogs instantly. You can also bathe your dog in hot soapy water with Dawn to kill adult fleas, but this is not a good long-term solution.What can I put on my dog for fleas home remedy? ›
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.What is the best homemade flea killer? ›
Create a flea spray by mixing 4 liters of vinegar, 2 liters of water, 500 ml of lemon juice and 250 ml of witch hazel in a large spray bottle. Before applying the product around your home, you should vacuum properly, emptying the contents into an outside bin, and wash any bedding/cushions that could be infested.Does apple cider vinegar help get rid of fleas on dogs? ›
Will apple cider vinegar kill 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 I put baking soda on my dog for fleas? ›
By mixing baking soda and salt into a formula you are making a dehydrating agent. This will dry out the fleas, their eggs, and the larvae. This will kill them off so that they do not reproduce and spread. The main point of handling a flea infestation is to stop it from spreading.What kills fleas on dogs instantly dawn dish soap? ›
Yes, as with many other soaps and shampoos, Dawn dish soap will kill fleas on your pet. It works by reducing the surface tension of water, causing fleas to sink and drown. Dish soap also affects fleas by damaging their waxy exoskeletons.What kills dog fleas and eggs? ›
Mopping and steam cleaning can help to kill flea eggs, and washing linens, bedding, and pet beds in the washing machine on the hot cycle is also advisable.What kills fleas naturally? ›
You can use white vinegar or apple cider vinegar, which is both effective in dealing with pests. Mixing essential oils like cedar or lavender can make the solution powerful. You can damp cloth with a vinegar solution on infested areas and on your pets to ensure that all fleas will be gone for good.
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."What is an instant homemade flea killer? ›
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 do fleas hate the most? ›
Citronella, eucalyptus, peppermint, tea tree, and rosemary will all naturally repel fleas. If your dog doesn't mind a spray bottle, dilute a few drops of your chosen essential oil into a 300ml-400ml of water and spray directly onto your dog's coat.What smell do fleas hate? ›
Natural flea repellents such as citronella, eucalyptus, peppermint, and geraniol may naturally repel fleas. If your pet doesn't mind a spray bottle, dilute a few drops of your chosen repellent into 10-13 fl oz of water and spray directly onto your pet's coat.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.How often can I spray apple cider vinegar on my dog with fleas? ›
Once a week, spray your dog's fur with the mixture. Although not scientifically proven to get rid of flea, the acidic taste of the vinegar may repel fleas and other parasites. If your dog dislikes being sprayed, dip a washcloth into the mixture and rub your dog's coat. There is no need to rinse your dog afterward.Can I spray hydrogen peroxide on my dog for fleas? ›
For less severe infestations, simply fill up a spray bottle with water, 1 cup peroxide, and three tablespoons of dish soap. Spray your pet every alternate day to remove any existing fleas and kill the eggs they laid. This should keep your animal healthy and free of parasites.Can I rub lemon on my dog for 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.Does lemon juice get rid of fleas on dogs? ›
Using Citrus to Repel Fleas
That makes lemon juice one of the great natural home remedies for dog fleas. Using it to repel fleas is simple: Method 1: Add a cup of lemon juice, either fresh or bottled, to the bath water when you're bathing your dog.
“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.
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.How long do you leave Dawn on a dog for fleas? ›
Wait 5 minutes, then rinse all of the soap off of your pet's fur. Allow about 5 minutes for the dish soap to completely kill the fleas before you begin rinsing. Use a cup of water or a handheld shower head to wash the soap off. Start from the top of your pet's body and work your way down towards the tail.What suffocates flea eggs? ›
Hot Water. Washing linens and bedding in water that is 140 degrees or hotter will be effective to destroy most flea eggs. Steam cleaning carpets after vacuuming can also help to kill remaining flea eggs.What active ingredient kills flea eggs? ›
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 gets rid of fleas the fastest? ›
- 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.
Capstar has a rapid onset of action – starts killing fleas within 30 minutes – and continues to rapidly kill fleas for 24 hours.How do I get rid of fleas permanently? ›
- Sanitation. Thoroughly clean areas where fleas frequently breed. ...
- Pet treatment. Every pet in the home must be treated. ...
- Home treatment. Begin home treatment at the same time as pet treatment. ...
- Follow-up. Fleas have a complex life cycle.
A common recommendation to get rid of fleas naturally is to use a mixture that includes vinegar on your pets and the surfaces of your house. When you combine a vinegar-based home remedy with other natural efforts to get rid of fleas—such as vacuuming thoroughly and often—you should see results.Does Vaseline keep fleas away? ›
One of the odder uses for vaseline or petroleum jelly for dogs is to treat a flea or tick infestation. This idea probably comes from using mayonnaise, vaseline, and other greasy substances to treat lice infestations. But wherever the idea stems from, the short answer is; No!Can I put Vicks on my dog? ›
Toxicity to pets
Examples of some common trade names containing camphor include Carmex, Tiger Balm, Vicks VapoRub, Campho-Phenique, etc. Camphor is readily absorbed across the skin, and should never be applied to dogs or cats due to risks for poisoning.
Raid® Flea Killer Plus Carpet & Room Spray is designed to battle heavy flea infestations when used in conjunction with Raid® Flea Killer Plus Fogger. Raid® Flea Killer Plus Carpet & Room Spray kills adult fleas on contact and kills hatching eggs for up to four months on carpet and upholstery.What makes fleas worse? ›
Fleas live and breed in warm, moist places, so infestations are usually worse in the summer months. While flea activity does slow down in winter months, it doesn't completely stop. The warmth of your home provides the ideal environment for fleas during the colder months.What attracts fleas the most? ›
Fleas are attracted to light, movement, heat, and CO2 because these elements help them find suitable hosts to feed on. Being able to use these as tools against them is a good way to help get your flea infestation under control.Can fleas live in human hair? ›
Fleas generally cannot live in human hair. While most species prefer to live on the furs of animals, they can use humans as temporary vectors. In such cases, fleas can infest and bite humans. You may get infected if there is a serious case of flea infestation in your environment.Does vinegar get rid of flea eggs? ›
Using a DIY flea spray of apple cider vinegar on a rug or dog bed will not kill fleas of any life stage. That's because the acid in vinegar is not strong enough to penetrate the shell of flea eggs or larvae.Can fleas live in your pubic hair? ›
When fleas impact humans, they may flock to the eyelashes, the eyebrows, the head, and the pubic region. Hair loss may occur on the body where the fleas are located.Where do fleas hide on humans? ›
Can humans get fleas in their hair? Fleas do not live on humans. They generally bite down at the feet, ankles, and legs by jumping from an infested pet or other animal, but it is most likely to be from an infested pet bed.Why do fleas bite me and not my husband? ›
Possible Explanations for the Flea Biting Preference
The first and most common theory that a lot of people stand behind is the individual differences between the chemical makeups of human skins. In other words, different skin reactions, as well as the levels of gases, differs between humans depending on their genes.
Cedarwood or atlas cedarwood are incredibly effective at both repelling and killing fleas. By using a diluted form of cedar essential oil, you can revel in the knowledge that the fleas will soon be very, very dead.