Written by Rose DiLeva VMD, MS, CVCP, CVA. Posted in Ask The Vet.

      I prefer not to use any of the topical and toxic flea preventatives on the market. Do you know of any natural ways I can help prevent fleas from bothering my dogs and cat?


     A successful flea control program involves treating your pet, as well as, the environment. The adult female flea can lay as many as five hundred eggs a day. That can translate into tens of thousands of fleas by the end of the month. Under ideal conditions of temperature and humidity the flea can go through its four-stage life cycle which is egg, larva, pupa and adult within three to four weeks.

     There are various methods of flea control presently on the market ranging from pesticides to insect growth regulators that can be topically or given orally by mouth. Other environmentally safe methods exist that I would like to share with you. Many pet owners have found some of these methods very beneficial and some have had exceptional results.

     Citrus is very unappealing to fleas. One tactic is to take a large lemon and slice it paper thin. Place the slices in a bowl with a tablespoon of crushed rosemary leaves. Pour a quart of almost boiling water over the leaves. Let it steep overnight. The following day strain the mixture and place the liquid into a spray bottle. It is best if this is kept refrigerated. Spray it on your pet daily during flea season.

     Another option is to take orange and lemon skins that have been sliced thin and boil them for 15-20 minutes. Strain and let cool. The mixture can be sponged on your pet and left to dry. It is an effective pet flea rinse that is non-toxic and all natural. Also, slicing citrus such as an orange, lemon or lime and rubbing it against the grain of the fur is a very good repellent to fleas.

     If you have a flea collar that is currently being utilized by your pet, you can cut it into smaller pieces and place it in your vacuum cleaner bag. In this manner, any eggs or adult fleas that are picked up in the vacuum will be eliminated. The suction from the vacuum kills the fleas.

     Historically, cedar and sassafras wood shavings, as well as, fir and pine needles have been utilized to eliminate fleas from dog kennel and sleeping areas.

     The additional of brewers yeast to food has also had some positive effects and adversity to fleas. There still seems to be some controversy over the use of brewers yeast against fleas, however, it is a wonderful source of B Vitamins and a great supplement indeed. Recommended dose is between half and one teaspoon of nutritional brewers yeast for cats and up to two teaspoons daily for dogs depending on their size.
     Additionally, dried or powdered pennyroyal or common table salt can be sprinkled on your carpets and left overnight. Vacuuming the following day will help remove fleas and their eggs.

     Ideally, the best way to protect pets against flea infestation is to keep them as healthy as possible by first providing them with the best possible health care and diet. My recommendations for diet begin with an all natural diet or any number of pet foods which do not contain BHA, BHT or ethoxyquin as any of its preservatives.



Dr. DiLeva is a 1987 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s school of veterinary medicine. She practices alternative and conventional veterinary medicine. Dr. DiLeva is a certified veterinary acupuncturist and a certified veterinary chiropractitioner. She can be reached at her Animal Wellness Center in Chadds Ford, Pa at 610-558-1616 for appointments, speaking engagements and telephone consultations. Her web site is www.altpetdoc.com

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