Simple Recipes for Flea Repellents
Herbal repellents work well to repel fleas. Make an herbal infusion by adding a handful of dried herbs (available in most health food stores) to a tea pot and fill with boiling water. Let the "tea" set overnight, and then strain it into a spray bottle. Recommended herbs include southern wood, rue, rosemary, sage, cat mint, eucalyptus, and leaves from the black walnut tree. Start with just a small amount to make sure the dog/cat can tolerate the herb.
Your Own Herbal
Repeat each week. Some animals are very sensitive to the strong smell of essential oils, so start with just one drop and increase to two if they seem to tolerate the smell. If ticks are the biggest problem, use rose geranium; for fleas choose citronella if for a dog, but not for cats.
Crush your botanicals well and fill a muslin bag or use it in the cedar chip mixture of your dogs bed. The muslin bags can be placed near your dogs bedding area.
Add the essential oils and vodka in a bottle, tighten the lid and shake well. Once the mixture blended (should turn white), add apple cider vinegar. If you have some herbs mentioned above you can make an herbal tea to use in your spritzer.
Boil 2-4 cups of water and remove from heat. Add your dried herbs in the water and let is simmer for 30 minutes. Once cool, drain and use instead of plain water in your spritzer. If you are using an herbal tea, this mixture must be kept in the refrigerator as the herbal teas have the tendency to go bad faster.
Once you have your spritzer you can use this by gently spraying it in to your dog's coat, legs, tummy and back. Rub it in well and apply it as necessary. Do not use any of the essential oils on your dogs face or around nose, ears and eyes. Respect the sensitive nose he/she has and go easy when using aromatic substances such as essential oils.
also make homemade flea collars that are very simple. Find some large
gauge yarn, macrame jute, linen pillowcases (that you don't mind shredding)
or anything that is pliable and you are able to braid, is natural and
Caution, make sure you know what you are doing when working with oils ..these are extremely potent and are not for the uninitiated to use.
just saw our first flea
Rather than do what I did last year (ie., hope that he was just visiting), I'm getting started with our natural flea control program right away. A quick response plays a major role in keeping fleas from gaining the upper hand - and in keeping you from resorting to chemical warfare.
First off: A healthy, natural food diet can help to reduce the chances of infestation. If you haven't started your companion animal on a natural diet, do it now. Healthy dogs/cats seem to have a better immunity from fleas and ticks. (See the snips tips on home prepared diets and healthy kibbles.) We feed human quality ingredients, supplementing with garlic and brewers yeast. In years when the flea population is at a normal level, that may be all that's needed to stop your flea problems before they start. Unfortunately, in years when the population is extremely dense, diet alone may not be enough.
In those years, immediately after seeing flea number one, wash the dog/cat who was hosting him. I avoid flea shampoos, and just use a health store quality dog/cat shampoo. They drown the fleas living on the animal without leaving toxins behind on her skin. (Cats are also very sensitive to the fumes from flea shampoos. Mine have become extremely lethargic when I've used them in the past. I strongly recommend that you avoid using any flea shampoo on a cat!) I've never seen a flea shampoo be any more effective than regular shampoo as far as preventing fleas from re-infesting the dog/cat, so, in my opinion, the prevention aspect of those products is minimal at best.
To give an effective flea bath, an important shampoo tip is to wet and lather the animal's neck first. Once his body gets wet, the fleas will attempt to migrate to his face, where they're harder to treat. The soap lather around his neck will keep them contained. Leave the lather on your animal companion for a good five to ten minutes - which can be a really long time for some of them, I know. Keep an eye on how many fleas you see during the bath to get some idea of how bad the situation is. It's also a morale booster to watch those dead fleas go down the drain.
Next step: wash and dry every piece of bedding to kill any larvae or adult fleas harbored there. Roll the bedding tightly so that you don't leave a trail of eggs on your way to the laundry! Vacuum every nook and cranny in your home and discard the bag immediately.
To treat upholstery and hard surface floors (and carpet, if you're brave enough to have it), there is an excellent product called Rx for Fleas, or Fleabusters, available by calling the company at 800/666-3532, or visiting their website at www.fleabusters.com. It's nontoxic, immediately effective, and has long-lasting flea killing properties. Good stuff.
In addition to Fleabusters®, you can use the only Zodiac product recommended by holistic practitioners, Precor. Precor is a flea hormone that keeps immature fleas from maturing into biting, egg laying adults. It's widely available (or order-able) in pet stores.
In the yard, scatter a product called Diatomaceous Earth. (Check the weather report and make sure that there's no rain coming for the next few days before you use it.) It's available at most lawn and garden stores; be careful to buy the type used for the lawn and not the kind used for swimming pools. DE is another mechanical (non-chemical) flea killer. (It's actually the skeletons of teeny little sea creatures.)
It causes the fleas to lose their body moisture - so they dry up and die. I've also used this in the house, but it tends to be a bit messy. Though it's not toxic, if you do use it in the house, make sure the area is well ventilated. I made the mistake of breathing in DE dust, and, trust me, it really gets into your lungs and makes it difficult to breathe. That's also why I won't use DE directly on the animals, though that's recommended by some.
Even better, since they don't harm beneficial insects or earthworms, are the new flea nematode products: Interrupt, BioFlea Halt, and BioSafe. These products are available at many pet stores, vets' offices, garden centers, and organic farm and gardening supply catalogues. They are easily applied with a hose end sprayer.
Once you've covered all the bases, you can read up on the life stages of the flea, if you're so inclined. Basically, you'll learn that a flea only spends a short part of his life actually riding around irritating you and your dog/cat, and that they can hop really high. Most of the flea's life cycle is spent in the egg and larval stages. That's why you need to treat the animal and his or her environment consistently if you're serious about getting rid of them. And you do want to be serious, because, in addition to the scratching and the icky feeling of knowing that these nasty little insects are sharing your house, fleas can carry diseases. Many harbor tapeworm eggs, and any dog/cat who ingests one of them will also find himself providing a home and sustenance for those disgusting parasites.
Even after you've treated your companion animal, her bedding and her environment, you need to stay vigilant. One of the best ways to monitor the flea situation at your house is to have your dog/cat sit (or stand or lie) on a white sheet while you use a flea comb. Keep a shallow container of soapy water next to you to drown any fleas that you find. Fleas like moist areas, so check around your critter's face and genitals. Tummies are also a favorite spot. Even if you don't see living fleas, if you see black specks (also known as flea poopies) on the sheet, you've still got fleas.
Fighting fleas can be an ongoing battle - and that's true whether you use a natural or a chemical program. From my experience, using these natural products may take a little more time than dousing your companion with chemicals, internally or externally, but it's safer for your companion animal, you and your family, and for the environment. I think the trade off is more than worth the extra effort.