It’s that time of year again.  Ah yes, summertime.  For some of us mid-westerners, it is the symbol of rebirth, growth & victory for making it through another long winter; however, along with sunshine, fresh cut grass and gardening comes those pesky bugs.  If you are a pet owner, the peskiest bugs of all are fleas & ticks and the war against them is never won until winter rears its ugly head again.

So, what are our options?  Letting our pets get infested with fleas or sick from Lyme Disease is never an option, so does that mean that we have to use oral or spot on flea and tick treatments that have harmful chemicals that are dangerous for our pets, potentially making them sick?  No, it doesn’t because there are natural remedies that actually work, if used properly, and they are completely safe for you and your pets.

After I lost my dog, Nola, to cancer, I have been on a mission to find natural flea and tick remedies for my healthy dogs that actually work.  When I was told that my cancer dog should not have ANY toxic flea & tick medications (which are all of them on the market, except natural remedies) because it was so harmful to her immune system, I thought, then why the F@#! do I want to give them to my healthy dogs?  Finding the natural solutions that work was not as easy as I had hoped, though, until I found this blog 6 Ways to Naturally Prevent and Get Rid of Fleas on Dogs and learned about the use of lemons as part of my protocol.  I did not find that everything on the list in this blog worked for us, but lemons were a game changer with our war against fleas and ticks.  The reason why lemons work is because lemons contain D-limonene, which is a natural flea repellent as well as an organic insecticide.  I was already using the apple cider vinegar, but found that it did not work at all, until I added the lemon juice.  Once I read the article linked above about lemons versus vinegar for fighting fleas and learned that vinegar actually attracts fleas, it became painfully clear as to why it wasn’t working and most likely making the situation worse.  But the lemon juice works, my friends!  You can see it killing the fleas when they come into contact with it, right before your eyes!

I use the lemon juice in a few different ways.  First, I follow the directions in both of the blogs linked above to create a lemon juice tonic:

(2) cups of water

(1) lemon cut into 4 pieces (with rind)

Bring water to a boil, then remove from heat and add the lemon to the hot water (I squeeze the lemons into the water before adding them to get the juices flowing), cover and let steep for 6 to 8 hours.  I typically make mine at night and let it steep over night.  Remove the lemons and seeds and now you have a tonic that will work better than any toxic flea killer on the market and it is 100% safe for your pets.  It is a lot safer for you too, when you are hugging and kissing all over your fur babies.

Now that you have the tonic, you can use it several different ways:

1.     Combine it with your favorite non-toxic pet shampoo and use it as a flea bath. I love and trust Ava Anderson products and use their natural pet shampoo & conditioner in one.  If you are interested in purchasing or learning more about Ava Anderson products, or non-toxic products in general, please check out my friend Heidi Straub with Health Insight by Heidi, who has made it her life’s mission to spread the word and educate about harmful toxins that are in most products on the market and what to watch out for.  During her quest for safe products, she stumbled upon the story of Ava Anderson and eventually became a sales rep for Ava products because she was so impressed by their grassroots approach and dedication to education and creating safe and affordable products.  Using Ava Anderson products brings me a peace of mind that I am using a product that is non-toxic and completely safe for me and my pets.

2.    Pour some of the tonic into a bowl and dip your flea comb into it while flea-combing your pet – this way you don’t just catch them, but you kill them as well. By the way, a flea comb is a necessary item when fighting fleas and ticks naturally.

3.    Put the rest in a spray bottle and use it as a flea spray.  You can either keep the spray bottle in the refrigerator or change it out often.  Lemons are a natural substance, so it will go rancid after a few days if you don’t keep it refrigerated.  This is something that you want to reapply to your pets daily during peak flea/tick season, so you should be making weekly batches anyway.

Very similarly to fighting cancer naturally, I have found that fighting fleas naturally is more successful when several natural treatments are combined, creating a synergy between them.  A little of each treatment every day is more effective than one big dose once a week or once a month.  If you consider that you only treat your dog once a month with the toxic chemical treatments, which means that the poison lingers in your pet’s bloodstream for an entire month and it is so powerful that it will kill a flea or tick if they bite your pet, then you have to wonder what else it is killing in your pet’s body?  It should make you pause and question if this is the best option for your pet.  I’m not going to sugar coat it, fighting anything naturally is not easy and it takes diligence, but isn’t your pet’s health worth the extra effort?  Of course it is.

Organic, food grade essential oils can be another excellent addition to your natural flea spray or bath.  You must use caution when using essential oils on your pets and dilute them in water or coconut oil.  A dog’s sense of smell is approximately 10,000x more sensitive than ours, so you can imagine how strong some of these oils can be to them, if they are very fragrant to us.  Only one or two drops at a time are all that is needed to create your own flea killing concoctions.

There are many essential oils that have been proven to both repel and kill fleas & ticks and this link has a nice list of the ones to try, as well as other natural remedies that you can try.  We have tried all of them listed, but didn’t have success with some of them, such as the food grade Diatomaceous Earth – this does not mean that they aren’t worth trying for yourself, though, because I have heard others say that they have had great success with the DE for flea control.  I do still add food grade DE to my dog’s food every so often, to kill parasites from the inside, but this has not made it into our main protocol, by any means.  I typically use it as a preventative if they get into old food or something questionable in the yard, but I also make sure they get daily doses of garlic for this same reason.

My dogs are extremely sensitive to the smell of the essential oils, so there are only a couple that I have had success with.  One that passes their approval and is also a natural insecticide is cedarwood oil.  I add a few drops into my spray bottle with the lemon tonic to spray onto their coats daily as a flea spray.

I have found two natural bug sprays on the market that work great and are made from essential oils.  The first spray that I found at Petco is made by Sentry, Natural Defense Flea & Tick Spray, worked very well as a mosquito repellent on myself, but the scent was so strong that my dogs would only allow me to apply a couple squirts to them before they would run off, carrying on as if I had sprayed it right up their noses.  After a couple attempts, they began running as soon as they saw the bottle, so I ended up only using it on myself as a bug spray.  It really did work great as a bug spray and I loved knowing that I was only spraying essential oils on my body and not a nasty, toxic bug spray.

The second spray that I recently discovered, once I discovered Ava Anderson’s non-toxic products is the Ava Natural Bug Spray that is made from all natural, organic ingredients, including many essential oils that have been proven to repel and kill fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, flies and ants.  I have only recently started using this spray, but I can happily announce that my dogs will allow me to apply this one without a lot of drama, which is the first step to it actually working!  I have also used it on myself as a bug spray and so far I find it to work really well against flies & mosquitoes, so I am hopeful that it is working as a flea & tick repellent on my dogs too.  You can purchase the Ava Natural Bug Spray from Heidi Straub with Health Insights by Heidi for you, your kids and your pets and they are sold in sets of (2) bottles, which I also love, so that you can keep one on your porch and one in your car for those impromptu hikes through the woods.

Another natural pet product that I have recently discovered is made by another friend of mine (I have a lot of really cool friends who are passionate about living naturally) Melanie Pool with Nature’s Proportions Soaps & Such.  Among her many amazing, homemade natural soaps are her Deodorizing Dog Bar Soaps, which not only make your dog smell great, they also have eucalyptus essential oil, which is one of the oils that are used as a natural flea repellent.  Melanie’s body scrubs and lotions for humans, made from organic ingredients, are absolutely divine, making you feel like you are treating yourself to a day at the spa every time you use them.  Her packaging and presentation are so beautiful too, that you almost don’t want to open them, which makes them great gift ideas for family and friends.  Do yourself a favor and check her out!

Fighting fleas & ticks from within is the last step of my protocol.  I learned in this article about natural heartworm prevention that a healthy immune system actually tastes bitter to mosquitoes and other blood biting bugs, such as fleas and ticks.  Foods such as garlic & turmeric are great for creating a bitter bloodstream that will help to deter these pests.  PLEASE NOTE THAT CATS SHOULD NEVER HAVE GARLIC, but one clove a day for your dog has many health benefits, as does turmeric, and I cover more information on the topic in my blog Simple Ingredients to turn your Dog’s Meal (and your own) into a Cancer Fighting Powerhouse.

This is the natural flea, tick and mosquito repellent protocol that I have come up with thus far, but I am always looking for more natural remedies to try, so please share your favorites, with which you have had success, in the comments section below!  The more natural remedies that you can combine together, the stronger your fight and the more successful your outcome will be.  As with anything, it is best to stay in front of it by starting early in the season and dedicate yourself to daily (or at least every other day) treatments so that you can kill any eggs that might have been recently hatched before they can hatch and multiply.

Good luck in your quest to tell fleas, ticks & mosquitoes to BUZZ OFF, naturally!