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Gross, yuck, itchy, irritating, nasty — all these words are used to describe fleas and ticks and the results of being bitten by the bugs. Ready to get squeamish? Such parasites are not just attracted to your poor pets, but to warm-blooded mammals which includes humans. Therefore, people can also become infested with ticks and fleas. OK, so maybe infested is too freaky of a word to use, but it does get you thinking about how to protect your family, pets, and home from them!

While it’s easier to simply buy commercial flea and tick control products, you do need to consider the type and amount of chemicals present in such products. Are these chemicals dangerous if ingested? Will it irritate my dog’s skin worse than the flea bites? Is this strong toxic smell going to stay on my cat? The answer to all are probably “yes;” not appealing. So why not treat your buddies to a more natural wellness plan?

Many pet parents are on a quest to discover a more holistic approach to their furry family members’ health care. Being as natural as possible not only benefits pets, but your family and home too by keeping it all parasite free through chemical-free cleanliness!

Go Citrus

Rub the cut side of a fresh lemon or orange all over your pet’s coat while you lightly squeeze the fruit. Another method is to cut a lemon into quarters, put it in a jar or other container, cover with boiling water, then let it set overnight. When cooled, pour the citrusy solution into a spray bottle. Spray on fur and rub it in!

Spray Apple Cider Vinegar

Mix a 50/50 solution of apple cider vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Cover pets’ eyes and spray all over. You can also add a spoonful of apple cider vinegar to your dog or cat’s water bowl. They drink it and their skin should taste unappealing acidic to ticks and fleas!

Let Pets Soak in a Bath

Drown those fleas! Try soaking pets in a tub of water before lathering fur in a gentle baby shampoo or one that is natural and citrus based. Really work the shampoo into a thick lather all over including in-between toes, leg pits, groin area and behind the ears and let it set for five to 30 minutes. The time will be based on your pet’s patience and the type of shampoo you are using, but the longer the better. If in a tub, watch to see that fleas are falling off before you rinse thoroughly.

Groom Daily

Do these things on a daily basis to get rid of and deter ticks and fleas: use a flea comb, brush fur, use a clean towel to wipe a pet’s coat clean, spot-clean hot spots on dogs and cats, do a nightly pat-down to feel for critters.

Grow These Plants

Did you know there are plants you can grow for duel purpose? To create a tick and flea repelling barrier in the garden, grow parasite deterring plants and herbs like the rosemary bush, fleabane daisy, mint, lavender, and lemongrass. Citronella is found in plants like lemongrass, great for keeping away ticks and all sorts of insects including flies, mosquitoes and gnats. When pets brush up against these plants the oils and insect-repelling scents cling to fur and ticks and fleas uncling.

Wash Pet Bedding Regularly

When buying new pet bedding, read labels to check that the material can be washed in hot water. Wash bedding once a week in hot, soapy water to kill fleas, ticks and their eggs, and to help keep your home smelling fresh.

Clean for a Happy Home

A good defense against ticks and fleas is to dust and vacuum your home weekly. Pay careful attention to pet living areas, in and under couches and people beds and give those spaces a good scrubbing! Empty the vacuum cleaner canister immediately and shake out the filter (if it has one) to rid it of any possible live bugs.

Image source: sabianmaggy/Flickr