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Essential oils for flea and tick treatment for dogs (and how to make your own)

our little boy with a puppy

Everyone welcomes the longer, warmer days of Spring but it also heralds the arrival of fleas and ticks for your pets, definitely visitors you don’t want to be sharing houseroom with.  With everyone spending more time cooped up indoors in lockdown, it is more important than ever to keep your home free of those passengers who might just hitch a ride on your dog whilst he is in the garden or out for a walk.

You don’t have to use harsh chemicals to repel fleas and ticks.  These are usually not environmentally friendly or particularly friendly to your dog’s health either.  People had old-fashioned remedies before the advent of industrial-scale pharmaceuticals and it was commonplace to use essential oils to repel unwanted invaders.  If you want to keep your home non-toxic but don’t want to have a plague of fleas or ticks then you can use essentials oils to help in that particular battle.

Max our cocker spaniel

Max our cocker spaniel, brought fleas into the house. We started with a lot of coconut oil and a nit comb!

How do essential oils work?

Essential oils work by creating an environment that is unattractive to these particular residents.  They may prevent the tick eggs from hatching or kill the fleas at the larval stage as well as keeping your pet’s skin in tip-top condition.  Here are some oils which are commonly used to repel fleas and ticks on dogs:-

The common theme to all these oils is their clarifying and astringent properties, yet they are quite harmless to your pet and the environment.

essential oil spray for fleas

Go ahead and try our easy recipe below or cut a few corners with the highly-rated Wondercide – an essential oil-based flea spray for the home that contains: Cedar Oil, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (Coconut-Derived), Peppermint Oil, and Sesame Oil.

How to make your own homemade Tick and Flea Spray for dogs

In eight fluid ounces of water add the following essential oils:

  • 3 drops of Peppermint essential oil
  • 5 drops of Citronella essential oil
  • 5 drops of Geranium or Rose Geranium essential oil
  • 7 drops of Lavender essential oil
  • 7 drops of Cedarwood essential oil
  • I tablespoon of castor oil or Jojoba oil or Coconut oil, this is called the carrier oil and is a base oil in which the others are diluted along with the water. The carrier oil is very important otherwise the blend may be too strong

Combine all the ingredients and shake very well for several minutes.  Using a small plant spray, spray onto your dog’s coat.  Avoid sensitive areas around the face or genitalia and if you have a dog with exposed skin, try to just spray the fur only.  Trial a small amount for a day or two to ensure your dog does not react to any of the oils.  Use daily but always shake well before each usage because the oils and water will separate over time.

geranium oil

For the home

You can make either a flea powder or flea spray for the home which will help keep your house flea and tick free without the use of harsh chemicals.

Flea powder which is ideal to sprinkle on the carpet before you hoover can be easily and quickly made with either household salt or Borax.  Borax is a soft mineral salt that can be used as a water softener for laundry and multiple cleaning tasks around the home.  The salt is quite crystallized so it works best if it is reduced to a fine powder, sprinkled on the carpet, left for a while and then hoovered up.  Some animals can have an adverse reaction to this if it is inhaled so choose your time with care.

Essential oils can be added to the vacuum cleaner bag or if you are bagless then you can combine oils to make a spray which you can spritz over carpets, upholstery and other fabrics before you hoover.  Don’t forget the dog’s bed.

Popular oils include citronella, rosemary, peppermint, lemongrass, and lavender.  They can also be added to laundry treatments to help protect your clothes and bed linen.

What can you do if you do find a tick?  How to remove ticks with a tick hook

There are many old wives’ tales about removing ticks but the simplest way by far is to use a tick hook.  You can buy a pack of two for less than $5 and with a choice of size options, these can remove even the most stubborn of critters no matter how well latched on it is.

cat having tick removed with hook

  1. Part the fur and insert the appropriate sized hook underneath the tick.
  2. Don’t pull – this is painful and will probably leave part of the insect behind if it works at all.
  3. Simply twist around slowly until the tick detaches.
  4. Count the legs to make sure you have everything  – there should be eight – and then dispose of them.

For more information, refer to the CDC Guidelines here.

Sometimes if part of a tick if left behind in the skin, it can set up an infection.  Ticks that are quite engorged with blood will put up less of a fight.

Four essential tips with homemade Tick and Flea remedies

  • Always dilute oils properly, natural products can still be very strong in undiluted quantities
  • Avoid application in sensitive areas such as around the face and genitalia
  • Never use Tea Tree oil which is a bit of a household favorite as this is potentially toxic to dogs
  • Always consult your vet before you use a homemade product if your dog has had an allergic reaction or skin issues in the past

References and Further Reading

Homemade Flea Treatments For The House: Read more…

7 Essential Oils for Fleas and Ticks on Dogs + 30 Toxic ones: Read more…