Spring is just a few weeks away, which means warm weather is on the way for our North American folks. While we can’t wait to get out and explore the great outdoors again, the hotter temperatures also mark the start of flea and tick season for our pets. These insects don’t only cause annoyances for our four-legged family members – they can also pose serious health threats.  Ticks and fleas can carry dangerous illnesses such as Lyme disease, bacterial infections, and tapeworms. There are dozens of products on the market that aim to protect our pets from these insects, but many of them include harsh chemicals that we wouldn’t dare put on our own skin. And if we wouldn’t want it on ourselves, perhaps it’s not the best solution for our furbabies either.

Luckily, there are a host of natural flea and tick remedies that you can use to keep your pets itch- and disease-free. You might be surprised at how well these options can work, and the bonus is that they’re usually much less expensive. Here are five natural ways to get rid of pests that are plaguing your pets:

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Essential Oils

Using Essential Oils to Relieve HeadachesWikimedia

 

Fleas and ticks are highly sensitive to certain scents, therefore, you can help keep these critters at bay by using essential oils that will make these insects want to stay far away from your cat or dog. Some of these anti-flea and tick scents include cedar, pennyroyal, citronella, eucalyptus, and lavender. Try diluting the oils and applying them to a cloth that you can tie onto your pet, like a bandana around their neck. For extra caution, try wearing the oils yourself and see how they handle it. Cats may be more sensitive than dogs, so keep a sharp eye on them. Drooling or excess salivation is an indication that the mixture is too strong.

You can even plant mint, lemongrass, or sage in your yard to help repel ticks, fleas, and other pesky pests! Just be sure that your pets don’t decide to eat of these plants as some may be toxic to their health. For

Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous Earth is a naturally occurring, soft, siliceous sedimentary rock that is easily crumbled into a fine white to off-white powder. This powder is an excellent flea and tick killer and repellant. It basically dehydrates the insects. It isn’t instant however, so if you catch a flea or tick and drop it directly into the diatomaceous earth, it won’t keel over and die right in front of your eyes. It’s harmless to pets and children though, so feel free to sprinkle it on your pet‘s bedding and around your furbaby’s favorite areas of the house. Try not to breathe it in or get it in anyone’s eyes, though. Even though it’s not dangerous, it can cause irritation.

Vacuum Everything

Now, this isn’t exactly what you would call a natural remedy, but it’s an incredibly important step you don’t want to skip. All the pesticides and natural remedies won’t help you if you still have fleas in your home that are going through their life cycle. Fleas lay eggs and go through the larvae stage before we even see them, so vacuum and toss the bags every day. Otherwise,` you’ll be back to square one in a week or two.

Wash, Wash, Wash

Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 3.00.54 AMHillary H.

 

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Wash your pets, wash their bedding, and wash your furniture.  You can use a gentle shampoo with some citrus already in it, or you can use some plain old baby shampoo and add the juice of half a lemon to it.

When you wash your pet, do so as well as you can, and then let them sit and soak in the bath. The soaking might be more doable for some than for others, but if your furball will tolerate it, let them soak for up to half an hour. Keep an eye out for fleas in the water when you’re rinsing them off. They should be dead, but some may try and hop out anyway.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple-Cider-Vinegar

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There are dozens of uses for apple cider vinegar so it’s always a good idea to keep it well-stocked.  From salad dressings, health remedies, to cleaning supplies, this product is great for just about every inch of your body and home – it’s also a great flea deterrent for your pets. You can do a half-and-half mix to spray on your pet, and add a tablespoon or two to their water. If you’re worried about pests coming into your home, try spraying undiluted vinegar around your door frames to keep them outside.

Keeping fleas and ticks off your pets is as important to them as it is to you. There’s no place better to start with eliminating a mild case than with natural options, especially since you won’t have to evacuate the premises for a night.

Lead image source: Kristian Niemi