Natural Ways to Protect Your Dog or Cat From Fleas, Ticks, and Mosquitoes

The weather’s getting warmer, and that means more fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes! Here are some natural, non-toxic ways to protect your dog or cat from these pests and the diseases they carry.

Fleas, ticks, and mosquitos are a huge headache for dog and cat parents. Not only can their bites cause a lot of itching and discomfort, but these pests can also spread diseases such as West Nile Virus and Lyme. Many of the preventatives for protecting companion animals from fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes are made from toxic chemicals that can cause other health problems. Let’s look at some natural, non-toxic ways to protect your cat or dog without exposing her to harsh chemicals or pesticides.

1. Minimize exposure to pests

Begin with these simple routines to minimize your dog or cat’s exposure to fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes:

  • Regularly groom your companion: this goes a long way when it comes to killing and preventing fleas and ticks. Go over your dog or cat with a fine-toothed flea comb to expose hidden culprits. If you find any fleas or ticks, eliminate them by throwing them in hot, soapy water. Be sure to detach ticks promptly and correctly by using a tick removal tool. You can also bathe your animal in natural flea and tick shampoos, or make one yourself using the recipe at right.
  • Wash her bedding regularly in hot, soapy water. When buying new bedding, make sure it can be machine-washed and dried for deep cleaning.
  • Vacuum surfaces where your animal hangs out, such as sofas, chairs, or rugs. If your dog or cat already has fleas, you may need to vacuum daily.

2. Ban bugs in the backyard

Your yard can be a breeding ground for fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes. You can help deter these pests with some simple practices:

  • Regularly trim grass and bushes around your house. Keep leaves raked and debris removed.
  • Eliminate free-standing water in pots, small pools, or bird baths. Dump and refill your bird bath daily.
  • Use food-grade diatomaceous earth around bushes or near wooded areas.
  • Apply beneficial nematodes to gardens and grassy areas. These little worms eat fungi, microscopic creatures, and bacteria in sediment and soil — they also eat harmful parasites.

3. Make natural DIY repellents

You can easily mix up your own non-toxic pest repellents. These formulas use natural ingredients, so they won’t harm your animal.

Vinegar repellent: Mix 2 cups of apple cider vinegar with 1 cup of water. Shake and spray your animal’s coat.

Lavender essential oil: This is a natural pest preventative. Dilute a few drops of the oil in some water, and spray it on your animal’s coat and bedding to keep fleas away. Be sure to use only high quality, therapeutic grade oils — cheap oils are usually adulterated and made from inferior, potentially harmful ingredients.

Chamomile tea: Make a pot of chamomile tea and allow it to steep. Then let it cool and add to a spray bottle. Spray around your animal’s bedding or on her coat. Chamomile is a natural repellent and has a soothing scent.

4. Feed your dog or cat a healthy diet

A high quality, whole foods diet helps boost your dog or cat’s immune system and overall health. This means he’ll be less likely to react badly or get sick if bitten by a flea, tick or mosquito. A healthy animal with good skin and coat condition is also less likely to attract pests in the first place. Here are some other foods you could add to his diet:

  • Apple cider vinegar: Pour a teaspoon into your dog’s water to help repel pests. Note: this may not work with cats, as a change in their water’s flavor might deter them from drinking it.
  • Kefir: This is a fermented yogurt drink your dog or cat will love. It can help improve skin, coat, and gastrointestinal health. Avoid sweetened kefir and buy only organic products.
  • Brewer’s yeast: This ingredient has high acidity, which makes it a great weapon against fleas and ticks. You can add it to your animal’s meals but be careful not to use too much as it can cause gas.

5. Consider pest-repelling supplements

Certain supplements can boost your dog or cat’s immune system and repel bugs. Before adding any supplement to his diet, however, it’s important to discuss it with a holistic or integrative veterinarian.

A recent study done at the Department of Clinical Sciences, Université de Toulouse in France, found that cats fed a plant-based diet, including supplements such as rosemary, thyme, lemon balm, wormwood, fenugreek, and lemongrass extracts for flea control, had reduced flea populations. With continuous use, the cats didn’t need any other pest control treatments. They also had no adverse reactions to the supplements.

Another supplements that repels pests is noni, a Hawaiian fruit rich in antioxidants. It relieves skin irritations as well as muscle pain.

Omega-3 fatty acids are also important. They have anti-inflammatory properties, which can help with allergies, and aid in keeping the skin and coat healthy.

Essential oils for repelling pests

A variety of essential oils will repel pests, but as mentioned in the article, it’s imperative you use only the highest quality products for use on or around your animal companion.

Essential oils that help prevent pests include cedar, lavender, rosemary, and peppermint. Citronella and lemon essential oils are also good repellents for fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes, but must be used with extra caution around animals – especially cats.

Never use essential oils at full strength on your animal. Always dilute them with carrier oils such as jojoba, coconut or olive oil.

DIY dog shampoo for fleas and ticks

  • 1 quart warm (not hot!) water
  • 1 cup vinegar
  • 1 cup baby shampoo

Mix ingredients and bathe your dog twice a month. Remember to rinse thoroughly.

Fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes will always be with us. But that doesn’t mean they have to make your dog or cat miserable or sick. The natural practices and repellents outlined in this article will help keep these pests at bay so your best friend can enjoy the spring weather in comfort!

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