Preventing Fleas, Naturally

By Paris Permenter and John Bigley

Preventing Fleas, Naturally

Chemical products to rid your dog of fleas fill the shelves, but a less-expensive and safer route is to use natural methods to prevent and remove fleas. No single method will completely rid your yard and home of these pests, but you can scratch the flea problem from your to-do list by using two or three natural flea-preventing techniques at a time.

Lather up. Although many flea shampoos are available, a great way to kill fleas is to use your dog’s regular shampoo. By leaving the shampoo on your dog for an extra couple of minutes before rinsing, the shampoo will smother the fleas. Also, if you can get your dog to sit in a bath filled with water, fleas that typically congregate in the tail area will drown -- all without the use of any chemicals.

Make a rosemary rinse. After your dog’s bath, a final rinse of rosemary tea can serve as an excellent flea preventative. Well in advance of the dog bath, make the tea with 1 teaspoon of chopped rosemary added to 1 pint of near-boiling water. Allow the rosemary to simmer, then remove it from the heat and allow it to cool to room temperature before use.

Wash your dog’s bedding. As soon as you wash your dog, clean its bedding and then continue to wash it at least every week. Laundering will kill fleas and eggs. Adding some apple-cider vinegar to the rinse water will discourage new fleas as well.

Vacuum frequently. Get in the habit of vacuuming daily during flea season to remove fleas and eggs from carpets and upholstery. Be sure to remove the vacuum bag -- or the contents of the bag-less canister -- from your home immediately so the fleas don’t jump out.

Use Diatomaceous Earth. Treat your yard with an application of Diatomaceous Earth (sometimes called DE). Diatomaceous Earth is crushed rock filled with fossilized remains of diatoms, a type of algae. The hard shell of the microscopic algae is sharp and kills the fleas mechanically. Look for “food-grade” DE in garden centers, but don’t buy chemically treated DE sold for swimming-pool use; it isn’t intended for use around pets. To apply, just wear a filter mask and sprinkle the fine powder on the areas of your yard where your dog likes to lie.

Use beneficial nematodes. Another natural yard treatment is an application of beneficial nematodes. These microscopic roundworms attack fleas and other outdoor pests. They are safe for your family and your pets. You’ll purchase the nematodes on a small sponge that contains about 1 million live nematodes. Soak the sponge in water, then spray the yard with the mixture.

With a little extra work, you can prevent and destroy fleas naturally and safely. Fido (and the environment) will thank you.

Paris Permenter and John Bigley are the founders of  and the authors of Barkonomics: Tips for Frugal Fidos. The husband-and-wife team lives with its two rescue dogs, Irie and Tiki, in Texas.

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