That topical flea control between your pup’s shoulder blades packs a powerful punch—and fleas aren’t the only ones feeling the effects. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports that some dogs have experienced adverse reactions, such as skin irritation, vomiting, seizures and even death.
“While chemical preventatives can be helpful, in most cases, they’re not needed,” says Shawn Messonnier, D.V.M., author of Unexpected Miracles: Hope and Holistic Healing for Pets (Forge Books). Before reaching for a spot-on pesticide, try this two-part natural prevention approach.
Treat Your Dog
Bathe your pet at least once a week using an herbal flea control shampoo containing citrus oil, which is a natural repellent, says Messonnier. After lathering, keep the suds on for at least 10 minutes before rinsing. In between baths, repel fleas with an herbal flea spray, an herbal collar containing citronella or an herbal powder containing natural pyrethrum from chrysanthemum flowers.
Treat His Surroundings
“This is the most important part of flea control because 95 percent of the fleas you’re battling are in the environment, not on your pet,” says Messonnier. Regularly vacuum your floors and furniture and wash your dog’s bedding in hot, soapy water to eliminate any flea eggs or larvae. Apply citrus oil sprays to baseboards or sprinkle diatomaceous earth (available at garden centers) on carpets. Outside, spray your lawn with beneficial nematodes; these microscopic worms eat flea larvae and can be purchased online or from garden centers.