It’s the most itchiest time of year!
Have you ever wondered why there are more nasty bugs around in summertime and how you can get rid of fleas and ticks naturally?
If you want this to be fast, let me be real with you now – there is no fast natural solution; however, natural care for pests is not toxic like the topical ointments. You have to make your choice here, draw your line in the sand, and show the fleas you mean business!
If you want to get rid of fleas and ticks naturally, you need to understand what lures them to your sweet pets! Start by learning the flea life cycle:
What is it about your lovable dog or your mischievous cat that’s so appetizing to fleas?
The main environmental limiting factor determining the survival of a flea is warmth. That should make it obvious why fleas are worse in the summer. Freezing kills the eggs, but, our warm homes are the perfect places, any time of the year, to house these pests.
Adult fleas live for only 3 – 4 months. Within this time frame, the pressure is on to lay eggs someplace warm with enough “food” to provide for the young. When their eggs hatch, the larvae chew on what is referred to as “flea dirt.”
And… just so you know… “flea dirt” is the dried blood left from the adults chewing on your animal’s skin. (Ugh… I know… so gross!)
After a hearty first meal, the larvae form cocoons or pupas until they’re ready to jump onto a passing warm body. They are heat-seeking missiles and wait for your pet (especially the white ones!) to pass by, then jump onto them. This cycle runs over the course of about two weeks and, thanks to the summer heat, results in higher rates of infestation.
You may not see fleas in winter, but, sadly, that’s just because they’re hanging out in their cocoons waiting for warmth and moisture.
The best tick prevention starts with understanding their life cycles.
To reach full maturation, ticks must survive four life stages: Egg, Six-legged Larva, Eight-legged nymph, and Adult.
Upon hatching from the egg stage, ticks require the blood of a host to survive. It can take up to 3 years for a tick to grow into full adulthood. Many ticks die prior to full maturation for lack of sufficient hosts for each stage.
Ticks thrive in the heat and moisture of summer, just like fleas and many other insects. They are particularly fond of areas thick with high grasses where they’ll select a long blade of grass, hold on the grass with their back legs, and reach out to unknowing passerby with their front legs. When you or your dog brush up against these grasses on your walk, the tick is waiting and ready to latch on and hitch a ride!
Making your dog or cat an unappetizing host is the best natural flea and tick prevention plan.
First thing’s first – in all things regarding health and prevention, diet really matters. The healthier the animal, the less appealing they are to insects.
Most commercial pet food is made with poor quality or even rancid meat. This rancid smell then wafts out of the pores of your animals which make them highly attractive to pests. Since this food is not really nutritious or promoting the healthy well-being of your animal, fleas and ticks are able to detect this more “sickly” disposition and choose the animals whose systems are in less of a position to fight.
Fresh food is key to making your animals the least interesting thing on the menu.
Spend your money on fresh food! Stop the sentence starting in your head “I don’t have the money.” If you spend your money here, that’s less money you have to spend on diseases and conditions later. Remember: you can pay the grocer or pay the vet!
Have you ever heard about garlic being bad for your pet? Let’s get one thing straight – pests hate garlic and it can absolutely benefit your dog or cat when administered wisely.
Yes, fresh garlic is anti-parasite, anti-biotic, and it wards off fleas, ticks and even mosquitos to a degree!
There is never a shortage of bad information floating around and garlic has gotten a bad rap for our pets. However, I can tell you after 39 years in practice, I’ve never seen a garlic toxicity in a dog or cat.
Garlic is very safe for your dog. Fresh minced garlic cloves added into pet food daily will support the anti-flea patrol. As an added bonus, it’s great for many other things including liver detox.
You can use one to two cloves of garlic for a large dog every day. After you mince the garlic, let it set for 10 minutes before feeding. Do not use store bought in a jar minced garlic. It must be freshly cut.
Another way to use garlic is to spray a concentrated liquid in your yard. It will kill the fleas present and even protect other plants from insects in your garden.
For getting rid of fleas and ticks the natural way for cats, try adding nutritional yeast to their fresh food and brushing them regularly.
You can give cats a few pieces of minced garlic, but, they might really prefer nutritional yeast. Just a light sprinkle of this on their food will help build an unappetizing barrier between your cat and the pests! Nutritional yeast is loaded with B vitamins and help the body repel those pests. And most animals love the flavor, especially cats.
If your animal’s not a fan of the raw garlic, try yeast and garlic wafers. They have B vitamins, yeast, and a sulphur smell to ward of pests.
Flower essences can support your pets’ energetics against invasion.
Additionally, a few drops of beneficial flower essences in your pet’s water will further build immunity. I personally like to add Flea Free and Golden Armor to help with that subtle energy. Since we are mostly made of energy and a few other pieces of physical substance (Really – our bodies are actually not very dense – according to Quantum physicists!), it’s always good to address any physical issue, in this case the attraction of fleas and ticks, at the energetic level. The flower essences help guard and repel the insects but must be used daily and ongoing to help build resistance. And again, this is non-toxic!
In addition to home remedies to get rid of fleas on your dog or cat, you’ll want to break out the flea comb!
If you find any nasty little bugs clinging your pet, you’ll be able to pull them off and drown them in water with a little dish soap.
A good detox bath with hot water, natural soap, and a vinegar rinse will further soothe the skin of your animals and wash away any appetizing bits of broken flesh tempting the vampiric pests.
The best flea treatment for your home is to keep your environment clean!
Start with the inside and work your way out. Depending on where you live, especially if your residence is prone to pests, you may have to be exceptionally persistent in your cleaning efforts.
Wash bedding, your own as well as anything your pets sleep on, in hot water once per week. This will kill any pests lingering in the crevices of your belongings.
Vacuum your carpets at least once or twice per week. Make sure to get into the nooks and crannies where tiny creatures like to hide!
Using diatomaceous earth or borax powder (20 Mule Team Borax works) can help desiccate the fleas. Spread the powders in the corners of your home. Leave it for 24 hours, then vacuum carefully. Do not allow your pets to breathe these in as they can cause some irritation, especially in cats.
FleaBusters is a borax based product that can be used inside the house. Be careful as cats are more sensitive than dogs to any sort of chemical, etc. This is sort-of natural AND it’s better than toxic bombs, but, it does have pyrethrums extracted from chrysanthemum flowers which might have some toxic effects in sensitive animals and people.
The best flea and tick prevention is not a fast chemical process – it’s a well-thought out prevention plan to boost the natural immunity of your animal with a healthily, non-toxic lifestyle.
Fast solutions involve toxic chemicals, which only cause more problems for the animals and the planet and create more resistant super pests. Ask anyone who lives in a warm climate like Florida or California how difficult it is now to get rid of fleas and ticks. The use of massive amounts of pesticides have made not only super pests but also have poisoned many an animal and other beneficial insects.
Beneficial nematodes can be used around your house to kill fleas, but not in your home. These tiny microscopic creatures are parasites for the fleas and can be purchased and sprayed around your yard. Check out The Bug Lady’s site for more information. They are more specific for just fleas, so, make sure you purchase those.
You can also buy growth regulators online to hormonally regulate the maturation of fleas. Keep in mind, you must reapply around your house if it rains. Growth regulators are just what they sound like and apparently do not harm other beneficial insects. I cannot guarantee this and frankly, I do worry about it. But, I also know they work in desperate times.
Getting rid of fleas and ticks naturally is a multidirectional approach.
Here are some other things I recommend in my own summer pest control kit:
Sonic Guard is a tag emitting a very slight ultrasonic wave to deter fleas and ticks from jumping on your animals. You put it on a collar during the warm months. It makes an undetectable ultrasonic sound for about 5 feet around your pets head. It has a battery and lasts anywhere from 6-12 months depending on usage and exposure to wet.
VetriRepel made by VetriScience is a lemongrass spray you can use to get rid of fleas and ticks naturally or protect your animals when they are outside. Although this isn’t a noxious smelling product I wouldn’t use this if they seemed disturbed by the smell or inside the house. I’m very sensitive to smells and find this one tolerable.
If you use both of these items and the before mentioned flower essences together in a kit, you’re employing a well-rounded, natural approach to protecting your dogs and cats during flea and tick season!