Natural Flea control for Cats & Dogs

Be sure to get my good side

Twenty-eight years ago, I lived through a flea infestation, the likes of which I never want to see again.

I don’t know if it was that house [we’d only just moved in], or a flea plague generally,  but the cat had fleas, despite his flea collar, and the whole house was infested as well. I could literally see them jumping from the polished floor boards onto my legs. It was awful and took two lots of professional, whole-house, heavy-duty chemical flea treatments to get rid of them.

I’m not saying all this to try to scare people. I’m just trying to explain why I have a horror of fleas. But the flip side of that bad memory is that I also have a horror of the chemicals used in commercial pet treatments. I’ve read so many horror stories about cats, and dogs, dying from those treatments that I simply can’t do that to Mogi and the cats. But I still fear and loathe fleas…

Two years ago, I decided that I’d tackle the flea problem naturally. I went on a research binge and discovered that:

  1. fleas tend to stay on the animal that is their ‘home’,
  2. fleas lay eggs on the animal, but the eggs drop off after about 2 hours,
  3. flea eggs tend to accumulate in the areas where pets sleep and groom themselves. These areas include carpets, bedding and soft furnishings,
  4. flea eggs need fairly strict environmental conditions to hatch. Again, carpet, bedding and soft furnishings provide the perfect conditions for both eggs and flea larvae.

Clearly, just killing the adult fleas wasn’t going to keep my pets, and house, flea free. To break the cycle, I’d have to tackle both the pets and the surrounds at the same time. More research.

The natural solutions I found for the house centred on bi-carbonate of soda – plain old, cheap-as-chips bi-carb. Apparently, it kills fleas and their larvae. I also discovered that salt dehydrates the flea eggs, killing them. Salt can be a bit rough on the carpets though, and you wouldn’t want the pets eating it so a combination of bi-carb and salt is an option of last resort.

Bi-carb on carpets

To see if the bi-carb solution was real or simply an old-wives tale, I began sprinkling bi-carb on all my rugs and the few carpeted areas of the house [bedrooms]. Next, I’d brush the bi-carb deep into the carpet fibres [with a broom]. This pushes the bi-carb down to the base of the fibres where the fleas and eggs are located. It also stops the rugs/carpet from looking too awful while the bi-carb does its job. This can take from 14 hours up to a maximum of 48 hours.

Why the time limit? Because after 48 hours the bi-carb loses its effectiveness.

As well as keeping the carpets/rugs from becoming infested, I also wash all the animal bedding once a week. My washing machine includes a soak option, so I soak the bedding in hot water with Bositos washing powder [Bositos includes eucalyptus oil] for an hour or so. Then I rinse the bedding and hang it outside to dry.

So far so good. I haven’t had a single flea bite on my legs so I know the bi-carb is working, but what of the animals?

Fleas on pets

As it’s been so dry, I know I’ll have to do something about fleas on the cats. According to my research, you can put bi-carb directly onto a cat, especially around the neck area which is where fleas congregate, but…I’m a bit worried they may ingest too much of it as they groom themselves. Back to the research.

I found the following website just this morning:

http://theverybestcats.blogspot.com/2009/08/controlling-and-killing-fleas.html

It’s the most comprehensive site I’ve found to-date and mentions some options I’ve never come across before. These include apple cider vinegar and a home-made citrus oil. Apparently, fleas hate the acid of the vinegar and the smell? taste? of the citrus oil. As I’ve been a huge fan of vinegar for years, I’m going to get some apple cider vinegar today. I’ll wrestle the cats tonight and report back in a few days.

Now, the only pet left is Mogi, the dog. I bathe her regularly and wash all her bedding etc, but you should only wash a dog once a week, maximum, so I may try giving her a diluted vinegar ‘rinse’ as well, especially near the base of her tail. I’ll report back on the vinegar rinse as well.

Natural vs chemical

One last thing, I don’t suffer from extreme chemical sensitivities, but I have friends who do. I know it’s real, and potentially deadly. I also worry about the explosion of chemical cleaning products in the home. They all list ingredients that read like an alchemist’s cookbook. Each individual product ‘may’ be safe, but has anyone tested the effect of all those products added together? I think not, and that worries me. The cost worries me too, especially when so many of them don’t actually work all that well. What you see on the commercial doesn’t translate to a real home environment.

For all those reasons, I try and use natural cleaning products as much as possible. Apart from the bi-carb on the rugs, I also wash my polished wood floors with either hot water and vinegar or hot water and eucalyptus oil. Both do a fantastic job, and the vinegar at least, is ridiculously cheap, so I strongly recommend throwing all those expensive and potentially harmful chemical products away.

Seriously, you don’t need them, and neither do small children and pets. Remember, they’re closer to the floor than you are.

cheers

Meeks

About acflory

I am the kind of person who always has to know why things are the way they are so my interests range from genetics and biology to politics and what makes people tick. For fun I play online mmorpgs, read, listen to a music, dance when I get the chance and landscape my rather large block. Work is writing. When a story I am working on is going well I'm on cloud nine. On bad days I go out and dig big holes... View all posts by acflory

14 responses to “Natural Flea control for Cats & Dogs

  • Elizabeth Drake

    Suddenly, the fact that it hasn’t gotten above 0C for two weeks isn’t looks so bad…

    Like

  • anne54

    My cats used to hate the flea treatment. I swear that Jesse the Cat would know as soon as I thought about it being time to put it on. He would vanish into the back yard! Bicarb would have been safer, but I am not sure it would have been easier ☺️

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    • acflory

      Yeah, the spot on is at least quick. :/ Not sure Golli has forgiven me yet.
      I did use spot ons back before the fleas started becoming immune to all the chemicals. Now, I hate to think what goes into them. Soldiering on.

      Like

  • CarolCooks2

    A great post, Meeks having lived through a flea infestation many years ago I won’t have a cat here although the whole house is tiled so not like carpets but Tics can be a problem here although so far so good…I will share your tips in my next week’s post and credit back to you as I am sure many do not like using chemicals in the home 🙂

    Like

  • daleleelife101.blog

    Bicarb, vinegar, Bosistos washing detergent diluted half half with bicarb- and a locally made as-natural-as-possible dishwashing detergent made by Simply Clean at Lismore are my cleaning go to’s. Both us and our house -septic sewer system, water into the garden drainage- are chemically sensitive. Because of the high tick incidence here Deez gets quarterly Bravecto treatments -chews- and an annual flea & heartworm injection. He has never had a bath! But gets regular swims in the surf and river, and digs himself a dirt bath from time to time. He had a nice doggy odour and no skin problems. Fingers crossed your natural treatments work on the four-legged ones… I’m glad it’s you doing it 😨

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    • acflory

      lol – hi EllaD! I have septic too but it doesn’t go on the garden so I cheat a bit and use a toilet cleaner that’s meant to be natural-ish. It really is amazing how well these old-fashioned cleaners do work.
      Btw Deez probably gets rid of all his fleas every time he goes for a swim. I once saw a guy down by the beach with his dog. He’d throw the ball in the water until the dog had had a good ‘bath’ then they went home. Wish Mogi was a swimmer!

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  • Candy Korman

    I hope I never need this advice, but it’s good to know anyway…

    Like

  • marianallen

    When my mom’s cat and house were infested with fleas, here’s what we did to fix it: Vacuumed the carpet twice a day, combed the cat with an EpiLady battery-powered flea comb, put out a flea trap. Mom’s cat (Sweetie Pie) LOVED the flea comb! Tipper doesn’t, Chickie does. A flea trap is a white bowl of water plus a few drops of dish detergent placed on the floor under a light (like a night light). Fleas–and other bugs–jump in and can’t get out.

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    • acflory

      Oh I do like the sound of that flea trap! I’m definitely going to give it a try. Just for the record, putting dilute vinegar around Golli’s neck didn’t do much other than upset him. This morning I gave him a kind of bi-carb ‘bath’ and I think that may do the trick.
      Re the flea comb – one cat loves it, the other can’t stand it.
      Oh, and I bi-carbed the dog as well to tide her over until I can give her a proper bath. Definitely less scratching.

      Liked by 1 person

  • Audrey Driscoll

    Good luck with the cat wrestling! I hope the treatment works.

    Like

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