Natural flea/tick prevention
May 26, 2014 1:48 PM   Subscribe

Are there natural flea and tick preventatives that you have witnessed to be actually effective? Pregnant this year and hesitant to put the normal pesticide mix on my dogs and cats. Yes, I have googled around but I trust the people on metafilter more than random websites I find. Thanks!
posted by sickinthehead to Pets & Animals (10 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
You can definitely keep fleas down with a flea comb.

Comb them outside, or, if you're ok with killing the fleas, you can drown them into a cup of soapy water (it takes them longer to die if you don't use the soap).
posted by aniola at 2:50 PM on May 26, 2014

I can tell you two things that did not work for fleas on my dog: Apple cider vinegar and Sentry Natural Defense. After that I gave up and used Advantage II, figuring that the fleas were causing him more agony than the chemicals would. However, I did not use a tick or combo flea & tick preventative because Shadow had had a bad reaction to Frontline Plus years before. I was just vigilant about finding and removing ticks (perhaps half a dozen per year).

Even pregnant, I would feel comfortable with the ointment if I could have someone else apply it and then avoid contact until they bathe the dog the next day.
posted by Kriesa at 2:52 PM on May 26, 2014

Flea combing, but you have to do it every day.

Washing the dog in shampoo that included lavendar seemed to help.
posted by blnkfrnk at 3:01 PM on May 26, 2014

Are you concerned because you don't want to be touching the topical stuff? I give my dog a pill for fleas and ticks - Trifexis, which is also for heartworm. There are a few others.
posted by radioamy at 3:15 PM on May 26, 2014 [2 favorites]

Diatomaceous earth for fleas, not sure about ticks though.
posted by pajamazon at 4:13 PM on May 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

I give my very flea allergic dog Comfortis. It is in pill form. I have tried everything know to mankind including the above mentioned diatomaceous earth. It was such a mess and took forever to clean up and, of course, did not work.
posted by cairnoflore at 4:53 PM on May 26, 2014

If pills are okay, Capstar is pretty awesome. It's a pill that kills all adult fleas within a few hours. Since it only kills adults, you have to use it more often than the 30-day insecticides, but it's safe to give as much as once a day and it keeps fleas well under control. Twice a month worked for my pets.
posted by zug at 5:51 PM on May 26, 2014

We don't use anything on our dog except tea tree oil. We just rub a couple of handfuls into his wet hair after a bath. He has never had fleas or ticks, doesn't smell at all and has lovely soft hair.
posted by Wantok at 5:53 PM on May 26, 2014

As long as you don't live in an area with sandflies, then tea tree oil should work fairly well, although some dogs really dislike the odor.

(if you do live in an area with sandflies PLEASE DO NOT ESCHEW PROTECTION, your dog can get terrible painful lifelong diseases from sandflies)
posted by elizardbits at 6:18 PM on May 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

A vacuum that uses vacuum bags would be super helpful. Put the vacuum bag into a ziploc right after you're done using it, as they don't generally seal well. I've heard that it's helpful to freeze the ziplocked vacuum bags before throwing them out in order to kill anything that might still be alive. Some people dispose of the vacuum bag right after vacuuming whether it's empty or not, to minimize the risk of any pests finding their way out of the vacuum and back into the house.

You might also see if there's anything you can do to lower the risk level for your pets. If long walks in the woods are normal, maybe try walking in areas less likely to have ticks? Maybe do playdates at other people's houses unless you can be absolutely sure that their pets don't have fleas or ticks. I've learned the hard way that it's easier to check myself and my pet for fleas/ticks outside and be reasonably successful than it is to check the whole house if an animal with a flea/tick problem has been over and running around inside.

I spent a lot of time looking into this same issue a while ago, and based on my own research I would not advise trying essential oils. Sometimes people on the internet say that it's a good idea to put them, diluted or undiluted on your pets' skin or in their food to theoretically repel fleas and ticks. I've heard of this especially with cederwood, citronella, lavender, and tea tree oil. When I was looking into this I found a ton of conflicting information. I do know that undiluted or improperly diluted essential oils can cause skin irritation and burns, which can also lead to licking. They can cause serious harm to skin, and ingestion can cause serious other kinds of harm.

Personally, I would not do this. The more legitimate looking and logical information I found indicated that it could be very dangerous. You might be interested in this page on essential oil and liquid potpourri toxicity in dogs and cats from VCA animal hospitals. It has information about the types of symptoms you might see if your pet has been exposed to essential oils in a harmful way, and that's always good to know.

What does your veterinarian advise?
posted by Verba Volant at 8:32 PM on May 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

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