Essential oils are promoted as a safe, sweet-smelling and economical solution for killing fleas and their eggs, those small biting insects that feed on warm-blooded animals and jump onto pets like cats and dogs and gain access to our homes. Essential oils are available from local health food stores and must be stored safely in child proof bottles, away from strong light.
Cedar wood essential oil, obtained from Cedrus atlantica trees, is an inexpensive and easy-to-find essential oil that kills fleas and scents the home with a resinous perfume. To eradicate fleas, take a new spray bottle and make a mixture with the ratio of 12 drops of cedar wood oil to 29.6ml. of water (1 tsp equals approximately 100 drops of essential oil), shake well and spray the mixture in affected areas like pet beds and under sofa cushions. Vacuum one hour after treatment with disposable vacuum bags, ensuring any fleas and eggs caught up are burnt or disposed of outside the home.
Eucalyptus is another woody essential oil. It is extracted from Eucalyptus globules trees and is one of the least expensive. Pioneers of the Australian outback first brought its qualities as a home remedy to the attention of Western settlers. The reputation of eucalyptus for killing fleas without harming dogs is reassuring to pet owners. To treat a medium- to large-sized dog, combine 10 drops of eucalyptus oil with 14.8ml. of almond oil, mix well and apply to the animal's fur (preferably after a bath) using deep massaging strokes. A vet should be consulted before treatment, if any pre-existing health conditions like skin diseases contraindicate this approach.
Lavender is a floral essential oil derived from the flowers of the Lavandula angustifolia or Lavandula officinalis plant, and may be a surprising choice for those not familiar with its long history as a medicinal herb. Lavender offers a variation in scent from the woody oils, since typical flea eradication procedures are carried out over several weeks, to ensure new adults hatching from eggs are destroyed. When other oils meet resistance in the elimination of fleas, lavender is a popular addition to existing sprays, but care must be exercised not to let the proportion of oils exceed the amount in the original recipe. Drops of neat lavender oil in well-chosen locations such as cracks in wooden floors and inside cushions and pillows with removable covers supports and enhances a campaign to rid a home of fleas.