natural remedies for fleas

Guidance for Natural Remedies for Fleas and Ticks

Even as we welcome the changing of the leaves and a cooling down of the temperature outside, I am reminded that so many of us are still dealing with that dreaded pest… Spring, summer and fall are ripe with the enemy.

To successfully win the war, you must start planning now. And that means exploring your options for natural remedies for flea and ticks. You don’t want to have to resort to using toxic pesticide pills and spot treatments. Yuck.

Planning is the answer to effective all natural flea protection. We need to be our own natural defense department and gather an arsenal of weapons against the inevitable onslaught of fleas and ticks.

Natural Remedies for Fleas and Ticks

Use these natural remedies for fleas and ticks to fight back against those pesky little critters that cause such a headache. 

1. Garlic as a Chemical Weapon

Garlic is a chemical weapon against fleas. In fact, it’s one of my favorite natural remedies for fleas, particularly prevention. Fleas detest the smell of garlic and by feeding it to your pets, they will become a walking flea deterrent.

Yes, I know many of you have heard people say “don’t feed garlic to your pets. It will make them sick or kill them.” While this is true, it is also false.

Here is why.

Garlic contains something called thiosulphate, which, if given in high enough dosage, is a liver toxin. However, garlic only contains trace amounts of thiosulphate and you would have to give your dog a very large dose in order to cause harm.

Instead, garlic can be great for your pets! It’s anti-fungal, anti-parasitic, and a natural antibiotic that doesn’t destroy beneficial bacteria. I give fresh, organic garlic to my dogs every morning starting in the middle of February through the first freeze – which is usually in November.

When using garlic for your pets, it’s important to remember to use fresh, organic clove garlic. No substitutions! Using the fresh, organic cloves of a head of garlic is the only way to ensure proper dosage and effectiveness. You can safely give your pet 1/4 clove of garlic per every 10 pounds of body weight. If your dog or cat is below 10 pounds, then cut a 1/4 clove of garlic in half (so 1/8 of a clove). I am talking about a normal piece of garlic – not the elephant garlic variety. No matter how big your pet is, do not give them more than 2 cloves of garlic per day. So if you have a 100 pound dog, still give them only 2 cloves of garlic.

2. Nematodes

Nematodes are bugs we can all love and appreciate!

Beginning in Mid-April, when the soil temps are above 45 degrees, is when I start thinking about yard care. One of the most important ways to combat fleas is to kill them before they can reproduce. How, you ask? Flea eating nematodes. I love them and so will you. 

Nematodes are microscopic organisms that eat fleas. I think that is all I need to explain because I’m pretty sure I had you at “eat fleas.” The best part is that nematodes are easy to use. Just order them from a garden supply company. I like Arbico Organics ( and use a garden sprayer to spray the nematodes on your yard. Spray once each in the spring, summer, and fall.

If you live in an area where fleas are prolific, make sure you keep your lawn cut short. 

3. Other Yard Care

If your dog has a favorite place to curl up outside or if you garden, spread diatomaceous earth (also found at garden supply stores) on the ground. 

Diatomaceous earth is a non-toxic powder made up of fossilized organisms called diatoms. These little gems help break apart flea eggs and dry them out before they can grow into adult fleas. 

Yards can also benefit from potted mint, rosemary, fleabane daisies, geraniums, lavender and lemongrass. These plants repel fleas and ticks, while helping to make your yard an unfavorable habitat for pests.

4. We All Want a Clean Environment, Right?

Keeping your dog’s environment and coat clean is just as important as having a tidy yard. 

Once per week, wash all of your dog’s bedding in hot water with a natural, unscented detergent. If your dog sleeps with you, make sure you throw your own bedding in the washer once a week.

Keeping your dog’s coat clean with daily grooming is also an effective method for flea infestation prevention. Brushing your dog’s coat will help remove fleas and ticks plus your dog will love you for it. Not only will you be spending quality time together but brushing helps to stimulate the circulatory system, distributes their coat’s natural oils, and helps to remove toxins. 

While grooming, you can try this excellent flea test: moisten paper towels and stand your dog on them making sure the towels extend beyond the size of your dog’s coat. If little specks of dirt fall on to the towels and turn red or brown, your dog has fleas. Another great grooming technique is to go “monkey.” Preen and pick through their fur like a chimp to see if you can find any fleas, paying special attention to their ears, tail, belly, and toes. 

5. Just Add Lemon and Rosemary

A great recipe for a flea and tick spray is to take a lemon and slice it so that each piece is thin and round. Put the lemon in a large bowl along with a fresh rosemary sprig and make a tea by adding a quart of almost boiling water. Cover and let steep and cool overnight.

Take out the lemon slices and rosemary sprig and pour the remaining liquid into a spray bottle. Add two drops of cedar-wood essential oil and store in the refrigerator. 

Mist your dog’s undercarriage, feet, tail and ears before going outside.This spray will help keeps fleas and ticks from jumping onto your dog as they do not like the smell of lemon, cedar, or rosemary. Avoid using any repellents that contain the essential oils pennyroyal, wintergreen, or clove. They are unsafe for pets.

6. Fighting the Battle from the Inside Out

The last part of your plan is to make fleas detest your pooch so they will go somewhere else for sustenance. You can achieve this by feeding your dog a healthy diet so they will not smell or taste good to both fleas and ticks. Feed a fresh food diet that is free from additives, fillers and by-products. Do not feed wheat, soy, or any type of sugar to your dog. Make sure they are getting enough immune builders like omega-3 fatty acids, probiotics, and digestive enzymes. A dog with a healthy immune system will be able to fight off and repel insects by using their skin’s natural oils like wolves do in the wild. 

Living the all natural lifestyle takes some effort, especially when it comes to your sweet pooch. The good news is that with a bit of planning and effective natural remedies for fleas and ticks, you can be well on your way to a successful season without having to resort to using toxic chemicals on your pets and in your home.

Written by

Rita has been working one-on-one with dogs and owners for almost 20 years. She is the founder and formulator at Farm Dog Naturals. Rita's practice involves the use of food energetics, western herbs, phytoembryonic therapy (plant bud medicine), spagyrics, essential oils, flower/crystal/mineral essences and energy work. She has done apprenticeships with elder herbalists, taken key seminars with herbalists and healers that have helped her further her knowledge. She attended the Hawthorn School of Medicine with herbalist Sean Croke, worked with Carol Trasatto, taught community herbalism classes and continue her education as much as time allows out of clinic. Rita regularly speaks on canine herbalism and teaches classes to promote holistic canine herbalism. I work specifically with dogs of all types and the humans that love them.