30 Natural Ingredients and Remedies to Repel Fleas and Ticks on Dogs (and Some for Cats Too!)

Sisi & Floki

Cleanliness really is close to godliness. You might have gotten your pet because you found it cute, you liked the breed, you wanted to save it from an animal shelter, you thought it would make you exercise more and lose weight, you were seeking company, you wanted protection or any other valid reason, but truth be told, any living being requires our attention, care and love. It is not just sufficient to feed them or to walk them, our pets require grooming just as humans do, and in some cases even more.

If your pet looks homeless on most days, even though it sleeps on a comfy cushion, there is no miracle product out there that can replace regular hygiene. If your dog requires grooming, and you are not too much into ‘hair care’, do yourself and your dog a favor and take it to a groomer. A groomer will know how to help your dog and you out, but know that it is up to you to maintain your dog in a presentable state.

Preventive measures to keep insects away:

1.   Bathing / Washing

Keeping your dog and the environment it’s in clean is the best job you can do. Soapy water will get rid of fleas, and regularly washing beyour dog’s bedding  sleeps will eliminate flea eggs and larvae.

2.   Grooming / Combing

Dead dog hair gives birth to mats, which are a breeding ground for fleas and a hiding spot for ticks. Some breeds require more grooming than others, but regular combing is always the key. Fine flea combs are a great tool that can be used daily, and any fleas caught should be drowned in soapy water. Combing your dog will also allow you to see what’s going on closer to the skin, hence you’ll be able to spot ticks that might had just started their supper.

3.   Keeping your dog healthy and strong

Strong immune system in pets and humans keeps insects away, as they prefer to attack weaker, more sensitive animals.

Many herbs have proven results with respect to the immune system. Taraxacum officinalis (Dandelion) is a rich source of vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin A, D, C, various B Vitamins, iron, lecithin, silicon, potassium, magnesium, zinc and manganese. Echinacea purpurea is well known for its excellent benefits for immune functioning and for its antifungal, antiviral and antibacterial properties. Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) and Silybum marianum (Milk Thistle) are also beneficial, with Milk Thistle regarded as one of the most important herbal liver tonics and restoratives.  Medical use of Milk Thistle can be traced back more than 2000 years! [1]

Fur/body treatments:

4.   Apple cider vinegar

A little apple cider vinegar in your pet’s food/water helps maintain correct PH balance and healthy digestion, arthritis, alleviate allergies, maintain great skin conditions and control parasites such as fleas, ringworm, ticks, fungus, and bacteria. It is suitable for dogs and cats.

Dosage and instructions: Start with a one-teaspoon dose mixed into your dog’s food twice a day for a 50 lb (~23kg) dog (adjust accordingly by weight) and if necessary increase up to about 1 tablespoon twice a day for the same size dog. For skin application, you can spray on or rub apple cider onto the skin/fur directly, or for sore or open wounds mix the ACV with equal parts water before application to the dog’s skin. In the case of pests or parasites, bathe your dog and then apply a 50:50 mix of apple cider vinegar and water. Allow this to air dry on your pet to kill off fleas, ticks, ringworm, etc. and to prevent future infestations and/or infection. You can also spray your dog with apple cider vinegar before going out for a walk, in order to repel fleas and ticks naturally. [2]

5.   Brewer’s yeast and garlic

Along with ACV, this is another one of my favorite combos. Apparently, fleas dislike the taste of garlic and brewer’s yeast. A few years back I used to prepare homemade doggy biscuits and treats for my dogs, and I’d always add garlic. I never recall having any problems with fleas back them. Thinking back on it now, due to time constraints I stopped doing that some time ago, and I’ve had to fight fleas much harder ever since. But I was back to using this magical mix just at the beginning of summer, and I can say that my dog’s have been flea and tick free, even after daily walks in a nearby park and forest.

1tbs of brewer’s yeast or natural yeast for a 50-pound (~23kg) dog and a few cloves of garlic, or garlic powder added to food. Naturally, adjust the amounts for smaller / bigger dogs. Too much garlic can cause anemia in dogs, so as with everything, balance is the key.

6.   Oranges, lemons and grapefruit

Place orange, lemon and grapefruit peels in a blender and puree it. Boil some water and add it to the puree until you obtain a soft paste. Let it cool and rub onto your dog’s fur. It’ll make your pet smell wonderfully, and it’s an excellent natural flea repellent.

7.   Mint infusion

Mix the following ingredients:

2 lemons (squeezed into juice)

10 tsp apple cider vinegar

10 mint leaves

Warm water

Leave it to sit overnight, strain and place into a squirt bottle. Spray onto your dog.

8.   Cloves and camphor spray

33oz (1 liter) ethanol or pure alcohol

3 camphor rock crystals

3 dried cloves

1 cup of apple cider vinegar

Mix the camphor crystals in alcohol until they fully dissolve. Add cloves and ACV. Pour the mixture into a squirt bottle and spray it onto the animal’s fur, protecting its eyes and mouth. Let it sit for 2 hours, and then rinse out with water.

9.   Wash your dog with organic rose bar soap

Washing your dog with rose soap is a natural way to repel fleas invading its body, and it will leave your dog’s hair super soft. Rose bar soaps are usually easily accessible and a great low cost solution.

10. Wash your dog with organic peppermint soap

Organic peppermint soap should contain a fair amount of peppermint essential oil. This oil is deadly for insects like fleas and ticks, since it causes the insect’s nervous system to break down. It also smells wonderfully.

11. Dry pennyroyal (not as essential oil)

Dried pennyroyal can be placed around the house or dog house. It’s a biological deworming agent, as well as an excellent insect repellent.

However some caution is required. If you’re keen on using it in essential oil form, be cautious with its application. As essential oil it can never be ingested internally due to high toxicity.

12. Alcohol, distilled water and essential oils spray

3.3oz (100 ml) ethanol or pure alcohol

6.6oz (200 ml) distilled water

30 drops lemon tree essential oil

30 drops eucalyptus essential oil

60 drops lavender essential oil

Spray it onto your dog’s fur, rub it in and leave to work its magic!

13. Aromatherapy spray against ticks, fleas and phlebotomus (sandflies)

For those more familiar with aromatherapy oils, this spray is a strong insect repellent, it regenerates hair and skin, and soothes the dog. It is also recommended for dog owners. 

Base oil: Sweet almond oil (Prunus Amygdalus dulci)

Drops of:

English or common lavender oil (Lavandula angustifólia)

Geranium oil (Pelargonium graveolens)

Common myrrh oil (Commiphora myrrha)

Bay laurel oil (Laurus nobilis)

Lemon eucalyptus oil (Eucalyptus citriodora)

Atlas cedar oil (Cedrus atlântica)

14. Homeopathic remedies

Sulphur 30c in water.

Homeopathic sulphur is usually not used to repel ticks, as its potency works better for smaller parasites, like fleas (and other biting bugs). It doesn’t kill them, it simply turns your pet’s skin far less attractive to these bugs, and in that way deterring them from living on the animal.

Ledum (Marsh Tea) 12c to 30c in water.

Remedy for puncture wounds, stings, animal bites, with amazing ability to heal tissues carefully from the deepest point and working up to the surface with specific action on hematoma (bleeding under the skin).

Staphysagria 6C with water

Mixing several pellets of Staphysagria 6C with water and spraying around cracks, crevices, and furniture will kill adult fleas and prevent eggs from maturing. Repeat twice a month or more frequently to keep the house free of fleas during summer.

15. Eastern black walnut (Juglans nigra) powder / capsules

Eastern black walnut works against fleas, ticks and sand flies. It also anti-parasitic properties; commonly used to cure tapeworms and ringworms. It is poisonous to horses, so consult your vet before giving it to animals.

16. Bay leaves (crushed or ground)

Rub crushed or ground bay leaves all over dog’s hair. You’ll have to repeat this process every time before going out.

17. Rosemary infusion

Add two cups of fresh rosemary leaves (needles) into 33oz (1 liter) of boiling water. Let it sit for 30 minutes, while it cools down. Sprinkle this infusion all over your dog’s fur, rubbing it in and allowing it dry naturally.

18. Lemon, salt and vinegar spray

Boil several lemons in water with a few tea spoons of salt. Once cooled, add one table spoon of apple cider vinegar. Spray it onto your pet’s coat and leave it to dry naturally.

19. Apple cider vinegar, salt and baking soda spray

8oz (240 ml) ACV

4oz (120 ml) warm water

½ tbs salt

½ tbs baking soda

Spray it onto your pet’s coat and leave it to dry naturally.

20. Bathe your pet in a natural, herbal shampoo

Use an herbal shampoo that contains a combination of pine cedar, bergamot, rosemary, lavender, eucalyptus, citronella, juniper or geranium.

21. Coconut oil rub

Coconut oil is truly one of nature’s greatest gifts. Amazingly enough, this oil can be given to your pets to improve their overall health. In its pure, unprocessed state it contains lauric acid, which acts as a natural flea repellent, so only but pure organic, unprocessed coconut oil. Rubbing only half a tablespoon of oil on your doggy’s fur will reduce body odor, improve coat shine, and act as a flea, tick or mite repellent. When ingested, coconut oil has natural antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral properties and helps expel or kill intestinal parasites. Also, another one of my absolute favorites.

22. Essential oils

These are some of the most frequently used essential oils to treat pests:

  • Lemongrass
  • Lemon
  • Citronella
  • Tea tree
  • Eucalyptus
  • Rosemary
  • Bay
  • Thyme
  • Witch hazel
  • Clove
  • Cinnamon
  • Linalool
  • Rue
  • Neem
  • Juniper
  • Cedar
  • Geranium
  • Bergamot
  • Lavender
  • Sweet almond oil
  • Pennyroyal

As mentioned in one of the sections above, pennyroyal essential oil should be avoided. If ingested, it can cause seizures, coma and even death in animals. Preferably, use dry pennyroyal which can be placed around the house in safe places. Furthermore, not all essential oils are safe for animals. Oils such as citrus, cinnamon, clove, d-limonene, geranium, tea tree, lavender, linalool, bay, eucalyptus and rue oils should be used sparingly because they reportedly can cause allergic reactions in cats and dogs.

Some of the safest oils for pets:

  • Cedarwood
  • Lemongrass
  • Peppermint
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme

Indoor (house) treatments:

23. Vacuuming / Cleaning

Vacuum cleaners collect fleas from carpets, floors and dark shaded places underneath the furniture. If you’re facing a flea infestation, don’t forget to dispose of your vacuum bags, or preferably use water based vacuum cleaners that immediately drown fleas. If you have a bagless vacuum system, make sure to immediately splash all the dust (and fleas) with water, as you can expect the vacuumed fleas to attempt escape as soon as you open your vacuum cleaner. If the flea infestation is out of proportions, you might want to invest in a professional carpet cleaning service.

24. Salt and baking soda

Remove all furniture prior to sprinkling salt and baking soda heavily on your carpets. Once you applied both products, take a broom a sweep them from left to right so that they penetrate the carpet fibers. Leave it on for at least 12h, or up to a week, depending how severe your flea infestation is. Vacuum afterwards, but make sure to throw away the vacuum bag or to clean water vacuum cleaners well. Both salt and baking soda dehydrate the fleas, so they literally die out of thirst, or they’re just too thirsty to reproduce. Repeat the process during several days as fleas can hatch every 3 days in ‘optimal’ conditions.

Note, if you live in humid climates or it’s raining outside, the salt will absorb air moisture, so make sure to vacuum within 3-5h, instead of leaving overnight.

If you decide that your weapon of choice is only salt, you can use a squirt bottle filled with lukewarm water to dampen the carpet. Sprinkle salt heavily afterwards, and leave overnight. Vacuum in the morning.

25. Dehumidifiers, air-conditioning, vacuuming

All of these interrupt the flea life cycle. Fleas like humidity of at least 70%-75% to hatch, and larvae need at least 50% humidity to survive, they also need temperatures at 70° to 90°F / 21° to 32°C to survive. Lower temperatures slow down or completely interrupt the flea life-cycle.

According to Wikipedia, laboratory study done at the University of California showed that vacuuming catches about 96% of adult fleas. A combination of controlled humidity, temperature, and vacuuming should eliminate fleas from an environment. Altering even one of these environmental factors may be enough to drastically lower and eliminate an infestation.

26.   Boric Acid (or Borax detergent)

Boric acid is a natural insecticide and antiseptic, found in certain volcanic areas around the world. In some countries it can be purchased in grocery stores in the laundry section, in others in specialized stores. It affects the insects’ metabolism, and the dry powder is abrasive to their exoskeletons. Sprinkle boric acid on all surfaces your dog has been on (carpets, furniture, hardwood flooring), let it sit overnight, vacuum and either get rid of the bag or make sure to wash the inside parts of your water vacuum cleaner well. I found that some people spray BA or Borax directly onto their pets, but I don’t recommend that.

Backyard/garden treatments:

27. Diatomaceous earth (natural, food grade)

DE is a naturally occurring soft, siliceous sedimentary rock, crumbled into a fine whitish powder. It consists of fossilized remains of diatoms, a type of hard-shelled algae. As an insecticide, the powder absorbs lipids from the outer layer of insects’ exoskeletons, causing them to dehydrate. In order to be effective, it must be uncalcinated and have a mean particle size below about 12 microns – food-grade type. Sprinkle it on all surfaces your dog has been on, let it sit overnight, and vacuum afterwards. Some people apply it directly onto the dog or cat, rubbing it well into their fur. It’s not toxic, but both DE and boric acid are very fine powders which when applied indoors, it is best to protect your moth and nose since they can dry out your mucus membranes. “DE was the only thing I’d found that could be and was used on infant animals, was chemical-free and completely non-toxic.” ~Shaggylord, Adirondack Mountains

28. Happy gardens

If you have a backyard or garden, keep the grass and shrubbery clipped. In areas where your pet likes to spend time, you may want to refrain from excessive watering. Sun, heat and dryness can reduce flea numbers, as they prefer warm and moist environments.

29. Nematodes or roundworms

The insect-parasitic nematodes are  safe, as they are not the type that attack people, pets, or plants. They are a natural way of controlling fleas, as they act by feeding on flea larvae. They can be purchased  at some pet and garden stores, and should be placed in moist, shady spots outside the house. Initially, introduce only a small number, as nematodes have a very high reproduction cycle. Research shoes that they are

most effective against fleas in moist, sandy soil, and they won’t survive on dry, sun exposed soils, but then again, neither do fleas.

30. Plants  that act as natural pest repellents

The best way to treat pests and insects in your garden is to do it naturally by planting herbs and shrubs which act as natural repellents. Consult the list of essential oils for options, adjusting for climate, soil type and sun exposure in your garden and backyard. Once the plant is grown, you’ll be able to rub the animal’s fur with freshly cut leaves, hence reducing your expenditure in essential oils.

Some useful links for further info:

[1] http://www.nativeremedies.com/petalive/ailment/cats-dogs-immune-system-remedies.html

[2] http://www.earthclinic.com/Pets/acvfordogs.html

http://www.motherearthnews.com/nature-and-environment/natural-flea-control-zmaz95asztak.aspx#axzz2UlucxDJ3

http://oldfashionedliving.com/fleas.html

http://dogs.thefuntimesguide.com/2012/08/flea-home-remedies.php

http://www.earthclinic.com/Pets/flea-treatment-for-dogs-apple-cider-vinegar.html

http://www.earthclinic.com/Pets/fleas.html

http://jalapenogal.blogspot.pt/2013/04/home-remedy-for-repelling-ticks-fleas.html

http://blog.greenearthbamboo.com/20110805/green-is-grand/dog-days-of-summer-natural-remedies-for-fleas-and-ticks/

http://lifestyle.iloveindia.com/lounge/natural-home-remedy-tick-repellent-8180.html

http://www.treehugger.com/green-home/21-natural-home-remedies-pets.html

http://www.petremedycharts.com/Learning%20Center/Homeopathy/First%20Aid/First%20Aid/Homeopathy_for_Fleas_and_Ticks.html

http://www.greenderella.com/animals/your-dog-will-love-this-all-natural-tip-against-flees-and-ticks/

http://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/natural-solutions-tick-season/

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25 responses to “30 Natural Ingredients and Remedies to Repel Fleas and Ticks on Dogs (and Some for Cats Too!)

  1. A great article, some top tips and opened my eyes to some fantastic natural options to tackle these pests.

    Thanks for sharing these! Pinned.

  2. Thank you so much for writing up this wonderful list. I’ve been searching for healthy flea/tick alternatives online and only found single recipes for things, but I love how you’ve listed all of them together. This makes my life so much easier. Thank you again, I really appreciate it :)! I’ve been using a eucalyptus oil/vinegar/water spray on my dog and it’s working well. I’ve laid off the frontline/parastar type products forever because I don’t want to use such harmful ingredients on my pet. My only dependence is on HeartGard for heartworm because there are too many mosquitoes in FL and I haven’t seen a good natural preventative for that yet. By any chance, do you know about any heartworm natural options?

    • It makes me so happy to hear this little project of mine was helpful to you. Unfortunately, I don’t know any natural remedies for heart-worm. If you find any, please feel free to share. All the best to you.

  3. Since rosebar soap breaks down insects’ nervous systems, what would be a better soap for ticks? ( Since they aren’t insects )? And I’m sure you weren’t trying to be malicious by feeding your dogs poison…. but garlic is EXTREMELY toxic and deadly for dogs. It’s even more poisonous than onions for them. I wouldn’t recommend telling anyone to feed their dogs chocolate, onions, garlic, macadamia nuts, xilitol, alcohol, grapes, bleach, etc.
    However, I think you had some great points! Thanks for the tips.

  4. Actually you can purchase, FOR DOGS, brewers yeast WITH garlic and that helps prevent fleas and ticks on your dog.

  5. Great tips on controlling fleas and ticks. I noticed one poster asking about natural remedy for heartworms, and a few years back I read online that wormwood could be used for that. Health food stores sell it and the last one I got is a liquid which comes with a dropper. Haven’t found info about the dosing for dogs, but I put just a few drops, 3-4 for my small dog in food and a little more for the large dog. I try to do it 1 t 2 times per month instead of the treatment from the vet. So far mine haven’t shown signs of heartworms.

    • Thank you for that tip about wormwood! I’m curious to see how it works so please let us know your results in time :). I’m going to go do some research on it myself and see if it can be a good alternative for my dog. I would love to make him not be dependent on HeartGard. Thanks again for your info :D!

    • Everything natural isn’t safe – many poisons occur naturally. Wormwood can be neurotoxic, so you may be trading poison for poison. I hope that it is working for you – have you had your dogs’ blood tested? Generally, by the time dogs show signs of heartworms, the worms have already severely damaged the heart.

  6. Has anyone noticed a brand of dog food that seems to increase immunity from fleas and ticks? Several years ago I had a female Collie who had never had a serious problem with fleas until she got older and her immunity decreased. I finally found Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover’s Soul, and after having her on that for about a month the fleas and ticks greatly diminished. Only thing it did not contain treatment for hip and joint problems so I had to add that. I read where the ingredients of this food include B vitamins and wonder if this helped in repelling the fleas and ticks.

    Currently have mine on Diamond Naturals and will see if this works as well. Downside of Chicken Soup is they have decreased the volume a little but have also increased the price. GRRRRR!

  7. What kind of coconut oil do I look for at the store? I’ve looked online, but I don’t see any that say organic and unprocessed. Can you be more specific about what to buy please?

    • Hi there :), I give my dog (15lbs) about 1/2 a tsp of coconut with his breakfast everyday. He gets the coconut oil with his “The Honest Kitchen” food for breakfast and fish oil for dinner. It’s improved his coat so much. I believe the feeding ratio is 1 tsp per every 20 lbs. but double check to make sure. I buy mine from Costco and it’s called “Carrington Farms Coconut Oil” – 54oz. In Costco it’s about $16 and on Amazon it’s $25. It’s good stuff that is organic and cold pressed. Once you open it, store it in the fridge for longer shelf life. What I do is transfer some to a small jar to keep outside and keep the big container in my fridge. Hope this helps you :)!

  8. I am not sure where you are getting your info, but great topic.

    I needs to spend some time learning much more
    or understanding more. Thanks for wonderful information I
    was looking for this information for my mission.

  9. I was interested to see you mention garlic because I recently read from some “expert” a caution against giving garlic to dogs, and I knew that friends had told me that it was effective against fleas and for general health.

    My kids (Who live a couple of miles away) have dogs with severe tick problems, although I have lived in a much more natural setting and have several dogs at any time, and never see ticks on my dogs. I have tried to instruct the kids on getting their dogs tick-free, but the ticks remain. The vinegar treatment appears to be a simple solution (in both meanings of that term), so I have already called. I still don’t have confidence that they will address the problem, so I’ll take a spray bottle with the solution over the next time I go.

    I have wanted to find coconut oil for my own health, as well as that of my dogs. I live in a Central American country that produces it, but can’t find coco(nut) oil anywhere – go figure.

    • I hope at least one of all those treatments helps keep ticks away from your and your children’s dogs. I have a Filipino friend that is comes from one of the smaller islands. It’s common they don’t sell coconuts in stores and markets since almost everyone has a coconut tree growing in their back yard.

  10. Pingback: Fleas and Ticks and Mites - Oh My! - Pet Nanny·

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