Do Natural Flea Remedies Work for Cats & Dogs?

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Some pet owners are interested in trying natural flea remedies in place of the more traditional preventives - but do these alternative methods work?

Special food preparations, organic skin treatments, and more “natural,” home-made pesticides have been tried for years to ward off the dangerous pests of the spring and summer months, but the effectiveness of these methods has not been proven.

Though using natural products may seem like the “greener” option, they also may do little to control parasites, and could even be potentially toxic if used incorrectly. If you are thinking about using alternative flea control options, we encourage you to read through these considerations.

The Garlic Myth

Some pet owners have tried adding garlic to their pet's diet believing it will repel fleas - fleas supposedly don’t like the odor. Although garlic’s efficacy remains questionable, it should never be given to your pet as it can be toxic, and even potentially fatal.

Natural Skin Treatments for Dogs and Cats

Some pet owners use the essential herbal oils and products used in skin care or shampoos to coat their pet’s fur, thinking they will be less harmful to their pet’s skin than more common flea prevention measures. In reality, however, the chemicals in these oils and skin care products are often too concentrated for use on your pet’s skin.

Traditionally, herbs such as pennyroyal have been used as flea repellants, but even these have been shown to be toxic to both pets and humans if used in concentrated forms. Do not use any anti-parasitic product on your pet if it is not specifically labeled for use on dogs or cats.

Natural Pesticides for Protecting Dogs and Cats From Fleas

Making your own natural pesticides from a mixture of herbs can be harmful to your pet and may contain ingredients that are toxic if used in different concentrations or combinations. Eucalyptus leaves, brewer's yeast, and high-priced ultrasonic repellents have been promoted as effective flea control, but they are not effective in eliminating potential parasites on your pet, nor are they effective in terminating any developing larval stages that may be growing around your home.

These herbal remedies do not have the sufficient data supporting them to prove that they work well enough to warrant their use over the typical, proven methods of flea prevention.

Need More Information on Parasite Prevention?

If you have any more questions or concerns about your pet’s parasite prevention, contact your local veterinarian, browse our Pet Health Resource or Ask a Vet libraries, or check out some of the related links provided below.