With flea and tick season already upon us, it won’t be long before our furry friends start itching and scratching. Most people just run to the store and pick up the usual flea and tick medicine, but if you’re not comfortable administering harsh chemicals to your pets, here are 5 natural ways to keep them bug free.
1. Buy shampoo that naturally repels fleas and ticks
There are many brands of flea and tick shampoo, but not all contain gentle ingredients. Look for shampoo that contains natural essential oils to ward off fleas and ticks rather than shampoo that uses toxic substances.
For example, 4Paws Pantry points out that neem, rosemary, mint, lavender, and cedar are natural flea repellants due to the pungent odor. 4Paws Pantry is an excellent resource for pet parents who want to give their fur babies the best life possible.
Word of caution: be careful when using essential oils for cats and don’t use dog shampoo for your cats. Essential oil shampoo for cats is specially formulated with a greater dilution to accommodate their sensitivity. Always consult your veterinarian before exposing your pets to strong oils.
2. Utilize peppermint spray for dogs (avoid peppermint for cats)
You may have seen posts about peppermint water warding off spiders and other bugs. There is truth to this claim. Peppermint has a strong odor that bugs don’t care for.
Rather than applying peppermint oil directly on your pet (this can be dangerous for some dogs), make a peppermint oil solution to spray around the house.
For the simplest mixture, get a 32oz spray bottle and fill it with water and a squirt of dish soap. Add 50 drops of peppermint essential oil and mix it all up. Spray the mixture on your dog’s collar and any areas of the carpet where fleas might be living. Peppermint oil has been shown to have anti-larval properties and will make surfaces uninhabitable by flea larvae.
If you’re being bitten by a flea infestation, dilute a few drops of peppermint oil in a coconut oil solution and apply it to your legs or arms until you get the infestation under control.
3. Use diatomaceous earth
If you’ve never used diatomaceous earth, you’re going to love it the moment you start using this amazing substance.
Diatomaceous earth is made from the fossilized remains of diatoms. Diatoms are tiny, aquatic organisms with silica skeletons. Over time, diatom remains accumulated in the sediment of bodies of water and are extracted today in the form of silica.
Pure diatomaceous earth in powder form can be used to repel fleas by sprinkling a little bit in your pet’s bed and spreading it out. It’s not poisonous, and you don’t have to worry about you or your pet touching it.
If you have a flea infestation, dust your carpet with diatomaceous earth and use a carpet rake to grind it in if you have a thick carpet.
How it works is kind of creepy, but cool. Diatomaceous earth simply absorbs the oils and fats from the cuticle of a flea’s exoskeleton until the flea dries out and dies.
4. Get a tick key or tick wrangler
They come by many names, but the products are generally the same – a small, metal key that slides over the tick’s body forcing it into a narrow end so you can pull it out without leaving the head behind.
Most tick key products come on a keychain so you can put it on your dog’s collar or your own keychain.
Want to see one in action? Here’s a video of a pet parent using a tick key to remove a tick from their dog. Overall, it’s a safer way to remove a tick since tweezers tend to leave the head behind. You can even use it on yourself if necessary.
5. Bathe your pets more often in summer months
When flea and tick season is here, bathe your pets more often than usual. Once a week is often enough (unless they’re getting really dirty and grimy). If fleas and ticks aren’t a huge problem in your area, bathing once every two weeks is probably fine.
Bathing too often will strip your pets of their natural oils, but when you’re combating fleas and ticks, you have to weigh the pros and cons. You don’t want your pets to suffer from being bitten all the time. Use your judgment and don’t be afraid to bathe them more frequently if needed.