If your cat or dog is suffering from fleas and you're trying to avoid common chemical flea treatments, don't fret, there are options out there. Natural flea remedies are becoming more common and popular among pet parents. Here are some savvy shopping tips.
Is your pet suffering from fleas, and you’d like to find natural remedies to help relieve your cat or dog? Whether you’re worried about exposing your pet, yourself, or your family to the chemicals in flea treatments or because your pet has had an adverse reaction to traditional treatments like spot-ons in the past, there are natural ways to tackle the problem of fleas in cats and dogs. Here are some tips for using natural flea remedies and alternatives to flea treatments containing chemicals.
Alternatives to Chemical Treatments
- Groom pets using a metal flea comb: To remove adult fleas from your pet’s coat and, as a result, help prevent further flea eggs from being laid, use a specially designed metal flea comb. Dunk any fleas you find in soapy water to kill them. Comb on a regular basis to keep an eye on the flea situation and keep it in check.
- Do damage control at home: Suspect an infestation? Wash all the rugs, bedding, and towels your pets have come into contact with. Vacuum upholstery and carpets. Continue to keep vigilantly clean like this for up to two weeks to eradicate fleas—due to eggs, there may be a few cycles of flea populations to combat. Don’t forget to throw the vacuum bags away! It’s also a good idea to get in the habit of washing animal bedding on a weekly basis.
- Prevent fleas in the yard: If you have a pet that has access to the outdoors, keep in mind that fleas love shady, grassy areas. If you have a backyard, frequently mow the grass where your dog or cat likes to hang out. The more sunlight gets down to the soil, the less likely fleas are to want to hang out.
Helpful Tips for the All-Natural Shopper
- “All natural” flea products do not necessarily mean they’re safer for pets: According to a study published in the Journal of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care, pet owners should be cautious about so-called remedies made from essential oils extracted from plants that have not been regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). More than 90 percent of animals in the study who used such products had a negative side effect to using the product, including drooling, lethargy, vomiting, panting, fatigue, and even seizures. Always talk to your vet before trying out a new treatment.
- Don’t (always) buy the hype: Products marketed as “all-natural remedies,” including powders, shampoos, and alternative treatments, are not likely to have been as thoroughly vetted, and therefore may not be as effective as the product claims. Contrary to what you might read elsewhere on the Internet, studies have found that neither Vitamin B1 supplements, brewer’s yeast, herbal collars, nor ultrasonic devices really work to combat flea problems.
- Be a savvy shopper: The Natural Resources Defense Council has a flea and tick products directory that reviews the safety of both chemical and natural flea treatments, proposing safer alternatives where relevant.
No matter what kind of treatment you try, always consult with a vet first and be patient—a female flea lays dozens of eggs per day and can live anywhere from four to 25 days. Never use products intended for cats on dogs or products meant for dogs on cats, as what is beneficial to one animal could be toxic to the other.
More on Fleas
How to Kill Fleas in the Backyard
Get Rid of Fleas in 8 Steps - Infographic
How Do Cats Get Fleas?
This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.