How To Kill Fleas

Alex Seilis
How to kill fleas

Fleas are tiny, but can cause mighty big problems for your pets and your home. 

While killing fleas is simple, the process can take a long time, as fleas have a relatively long life cycle. 

That’s why it’s best to prevent fleas in the first place. Here’s a one-stop guide to spotting fleas, killing them, and preventing them. 

Why Are Fleas Bad? 

So what’s the big risk behind these tiny pests? Aside from being annoying, invading your home and keeping your dog scratching … fleas can cause other problems in dogs. Severe scratching and chewing can result in hair loss, skin infections, and inflammation. And dogs can get tapeworms from licking fleas off their coats. Flea bites in dogs can also cause allergic reactions and even anemia due to blood loss. If left untreated, fleas can lead to lesions and even develop into severe diseases. 

How To Tell Your Dog Has Fleas

Flea bites are extremely itchy. While that’s unfortunate for your dog, the good news is that it also makes a flea infestation relatively easy to spot. Even a single flea bite can cause dogs to scratch or itch excessively. This is the most obvious symptom that your dog has fleas. The itching can also cause other symptoms, like dry skin or hair loss. 

Aside from the itching, you can also look for flea bites, which are red bumps, kind of like pimples. Check your pet’s groin, belly, legs, and the base of the tail for these bites. 

How To Kill Fleas

Once fleas have taken over, they’re a real pain to kill. This is another one of those cases where prevention is much better than cure. We’ll look at how to prevent fleas in a bit. Assuming your dog already has them, here’s how to get rid of them. 

How To Get Rid Of Fleas On A Dog

First, wash your dog to kill the fleas instantly. Use Castile soap or another natural shampoo, and then perform a final rinse using apple cider vinegar, using 1 part vinegar to 10 parts water. This flea bath should be performed weekly until the flea infestation is completely gone.

Since a flea’s lifecycle can last up to a few months, this may mean you have multiple months of flea baths ahead of you until the fleas are completely gone. 

You’ll also want to use a flea comb to keep your dog’s coat flea-free. Comb from the top of your dog’s head to the underside of the tail, neck, underbelly, and legs.

How to Get Rid of Fleas in the House

Unfortunately, getting rid of the fleas on your dog is the easy part. If your dog has fleas, they’re in your house too. So the hard part is eliminating fleas from anything else your dog may touched. This means bedding, carpet, and floors. 

We recommend washing your dog’s bedding weekly using natural unscented detergent and hot water. If your dog sleeps with you, you’ll need to wash your own bedding too. A hot clothes drier goes a long way to killing fleas too. 

Carpets and floors should be vacuumed daily too, with special attention to any areas where your dog likes to hang out. 

Again, since flea infestations can last weeks to months, you’ll need to do this routinely until the infestation is gone. 

How to Prevent Fleas

As you may have realized at this point – preventing fleas is a lot easier than getting rid of them after they’ve infested your dog. Here’s how to prevent fleas in your yard, house, and on your dog. 

Prevent Fleas in the Yard

Something as easy as keeping your lawn mowed can help prevent fleas. Fleas like tall grass, and keeping your lawn cut short can go a long way toward keeping them off your dog and away from your house. 

Certain plants can also deter fleas with the aromas and oils they secrete. 

Some helpful plants for discouraging fleas include:

  • Rosemary
  • Lemongrass
  • Mint
  • Basil
  • Sage
  • Catnip

Placing some of these near your main doors and throughout your yard can help prevent fleas naturally.

Perhaps the most helpful way to prevent fleas in your yard, though, is by using nematodes. These tiny worm-like creatures live in the soil and eat ants, termites, grubs, and fleas. You can buy them online and from garden centers. 

Nematodes come ready to use, so using them to prevent fleas is easy:

  • Start when soil temperatures rise above 45 degrees for at least 2 to 3 weeks
  • Add water as directed on the package
  • Spray them throughout your yard using a hose sprayer or watering can
  • Apply them in spring, summer, and fall for effective coverage

Just remember nematodes are living organisms, so you need to use them quickly after they arrive. 

Prevent Fleas In The House

Fleas in the house are never fun, but carpet makes the whole affair 100x worse. If possible, it’s best not to carpet your home. The next best thing is to opt for a carpet brand like Berber, which uses a type of weave that helps deter pests. 

If you do have carpet, here’s how to prevent fleas from living in it:

  • Vacuum at least once a week in all areas, immediately emptying the bags or throwing out canister debris in outside trash.
  • Steam clean your carpets at least once or twice a year, paying special attention to where carpeting meets the wall.
  • Spread diatomaceous earth all over once a month during flea season. Leave it for 48 hours then vacuum. (Remember that it can irritate the lungs, so keep pets out of the room until the dust settles.)

Prevent Fleas on Dogs

There are certain natural foods you can feed to help prevent fleas on dogs. Two of the best are garlic and apple cider vinegar. 

Garlic is safe for dogs as long as you use freshly chopped organic garlic and feed an appropriate amount. Always use organic fresh whole clove garlic and avoid garlic supplements.

Dogs can have  ¼ clove of garlic per ten pounds (assuming you’re using regular-sized garlic, not jumbo). If your dog weighs less than ten pounds, cut a ¼ clove of garlic in half and give ⅛ clove.

Just to be safe, stick to feeding no more than two cloves of garlic per day, no matter how big your dog is. Start feeding garlic one month before flea season.

Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) creates a balanced pH environment, which can help prevent fleas on dogs naturally. It also contains important nutrients, vitamins, minerals, vital acids and potassium.

To give your dog apple cider vinegar orally, feed a ½ teaspoon of ACV per day per 25 lbs.

Homemade Flea Spray
Lastly, you can also create a natural topical flea repellent using apple cider vinegar. 

You’ll need:

  • 4 oz warm water
  • 6 oz ACV, unfiltered and organic (Bragg is a good brand)
  • ¼ tsp of sea salt or pink Himalayan salt

Here’s how to make and use it:

  • Mix the ingredients in a small spray bottle
  • Spray your dog’s coat and underbelly weekly
  • Avoid the eyes and any open wounds

This quick and easy flea repellent will make your dog’s skin and coat slightly acidic, which will help prevent fleas naturally. 

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