Many products exist to rid dogs of fleas and ticks, however, many of these products use harsh chemicals that can be irritating to the skin and are potentially toxic. Naturally occurring essential oils as well as regular bathing and brushing are effective alternatives in the battle against disease-spreading flea and tick infestations.
Fleas are different from ticks in that they prey on vulnerable immune-compromised animals. Ticks are equal opportunity parasites. The first and most important step in treating fleas is to ensure the dog is getting a healthy diet to boost his natural immunity.
Natural topical flea and tick treatments typically contain essential oils as the active ingredients. The most common anti-flea and anti-tick essential oils are citronella, cedar, rosemary, niaoli, tea tree, eucalyptus and pennyroyal. Another natural ingredient widely used in the treatment of fleas and ticks is neem oil. This natural product helps repel the bugs as well as soothe and heal irritated skin. These oil-based products can be used as a spray, dip or shampoo.
The most effective powdered flea and tick killer is a substance called diatomaceous earth. This product is a fine dust that is combed into the dog's fur. It acts naturally by dehydrating the fleas and ticks but is nontoxic if ingested by pets
In addition to applying natural products to kill pests, bathing and brushing can go a long way in ridding a dog of fleas and ticks. Comb the dog with a flea comb to remove any fleas present, and remove visible ticks using tweezers or a specifically designed tick-removing device. Neem oil or oatmeal shampoo mixed with some of the essential oils is an effective way to kill the remaining fleas and ticks that you were unable to comb out or remove.
While the dog is being treated for fleas and ticks, the entire household should be treated as well. Vacuuming should be done several times a week, concentrating on areas where the dog spends his time. Washing the bedding and disinfecting hard surfaces also are important to prevent reinfestation.
Natural products available for killing fleas and ticks in the environment include boric acid and diatomaceous earth powder.
If the dog spends a great deal of time in the back yard, cleaning his environment can be a real challenge. Keep the grass cut short and leaves raked in order to disrupt flea and tick breeding grounds and hiding places.
In addition, the introduction of friendly bugs that feed on flea larvae and cocoons is another natural remedy. These bugs, called nematodes, are applied outside once every four weeks.