You bend over to pick up your beloved pet, and a flea jumps on you.
We’ve all been there.
The feeling of dread hits you as you think about the process you must endure to get rid of these little pests.
Our pets are often a crucial part of our families, and their maintenance and well-being is of great importance to us. A flea infestation causes itching sores on your animals’ body and can contribute to additional health issues such as anemia, allergies, and tapeworm.
And all it takes is one flea to start a major infestation. The fleas can spread easily to other areas of your house and to other pets.
They can lay eggs in your carpet, your clothing, or other fabric in your home, causing re-infestation and the process of getting rid of these fleas can be long and uncertain.
The best course of action is to prevent these infestations before they occur.
Essential oils can be extremely useful in both the prevention of fleas and killing infestations, helping you to keep your pets healthy and happy.
In this article, we discuss 5 of the top essential oils for fleas.
The list features lavender, lemon, cedarwood, peppermint, and eucalyptus and though there are other useful oils that exist, these are some of the most supported.
The list is not in any order. The best oil will depend on your situation and/or goal(s).
As a repellent, cedarwood disrupts signals in the flea’s brain that are seeking a blood host. The fleas then start to think of your lovely pets as undesirable sources of food and will, therefore; avoid them when cedarwood is applied.
Cedarwood has been found to kill fleas as well. Cedarwood compounds start by eating at the exoskeleton of fleas.
It also dehydrates the fleas and makes it hard for them to breathe; and for fleas in their earlier life stages, such as eggs and larvae, the oil works by dissolving them.
It can be diluted and applied directly to your pet’s fur, in which case only a couple of drops of oil should be used. For dilution, simply combine a few drops of the oil with a carrier oil such as coconut oil.
Cedarwood should also be added to a diffuser, allowing its antiparasitic compounds to help cleanse your pets and your home.
This is because lavender is a strong bug repellent, working against fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes.
In addition, lavender has healing properties, which will assist the healing of current bites and sores on your pet. It also has strong anti-inflammatory properties that promote healthy skin and healing.
Like most essential oils, lavender should be diluted with a carrier oil such as grapeseed or coconut oil.
Lavender can be used by diluting it and applying directly to the animal, diffusing, or by adding a few drops to a spray bottle.
The mixture can sparingly be applied to the animals’ fur.
It is versatile enough to incorporate with almost any method of flea prevention and has a pleasant smell.
Lemon oil also contains limonene, which has insecticide properties.
While this substance isn't potent enough to kill the fleas, it repels them and prevents re-infestation and is actually a regular ingredient in many commercial bug repellents.
Lemon can be used in flea prevention in multiple ways.
It can be diluted in a spray or added to shampoo or bath water. Diluted lemon oil can also be applied to a collar to create a natural flea collar.
Given the potency of lemon, it should not be used directly on a cat’s fur. It can, however, be used around the house, on the cat’s bedding, and in their common hangout spaces.
It is okay to use diluted lemon oil on dogs and other, larger pets, however.
It is generally a pretty good insect repellent but it doesn’t seem to perform that same function on fleas.
However, it is quite effective at killing flea larvae which is a necessary step in halting the cycle.
Furthermore, this oil has strong anti-inflammatory properties which can help to soothe bites.
Applying diluted peppermint at the site of flea bites reduces the animal’s discomfort and facilitates healing and pain relief.
Peppermint oil is an extremely potent oil and needs to be diluted significantly before using it on animals or around the house.
It’s recommended that a spray bottle is used to provide larger dilution.
Peppermint should never be used on cats.
In larger breeds of dogs, peppermint can be combined with a carrier oil, such as coconut, and rubbed on the dog. This should be done sparingly however so as not to create irritation of the skin.
The effect of this oil lasts a long time, continuing to repel fleas as long as the fragrant scent remains.
While humans may find it pleasant, fleas and other insects perceive the smell as overwhelming and undesirable, causing them to avoid areas where the smell is present.
The oil can be used in various applications but it’s most often used through a spray bottle on pet bedding and carpeting a couple of times a week. Allow the items to dry before permitting your animal on them if you are able to do so.
A couple drops of the oil can also be added to your pet’s shampoo.
As an aside, there is a common misconception that eucalyptus can’t be used on or near our pets.
However, research has observed that adverse effects only occur when very large quantities of the oil is administered.
Given what we know about the importance of diluting oils, this makes sense. Because of the potency of this oil, we may consider diluting it further in use around our animals so as not to disrupt their respiratory passages.
Please be sure to contact your vet if you believe your pet has toxic levels of eucalyptus and don’t allow chewing on items that have been sprayed with eucalyptus.
Making a Custom Blend
Usually, essential oils can be used individually to achieve a desired result, however, fleas are pesky creatures that need to be attacked on multiple fronts.
This is why it may be necessary to create a custom blend in order to see the results you desire.
To create a custom, essential oil flea remedy, combine the following in a 16 oz spray bottle filled with water:
- 10 drops lemon oil
- 10 drops lavender oil
- 25 drops cedarwood oil
- 10 drops peppermint or eucalyptus oil
Shake well and spray on your dog’s coat, his bedding, the carpets and anywhere else you suspect fleas every other day.
This blend has a great combination of flea killing power and repellency.
Benefits of Essential Oils for Flea Management
Essential oils are a natural alternative to flea medications. Most flea meds contain toxic chemicals that can be harmful to both humans and your furry pet.
The use of essential oils for flea management reduces the chance of an allergic reaction caused by flea infestation by helping you gain control of the fleas.
While vacuuming, combing, and bathing are absolutely necessary, essential oils provide a useful addition in controlling these infestations. They offer a safe and effective alternative to the chemical-laden products used for flea medication. As an additional benefit, essential oils smell more pleasant.
It is important to note that the concentration of essential oils is high enough that dilution is almost always required for use.
After choosing an oil, or combination of oils, for use on your pet, be sure to consider the needed dilution for safe usage.
Given the sensitivity of animals to oils, it is also recommended that oils be applied on areas where the animal cannot easily lick (such as head and neck).
Always introduce essential oils slowly as some animals may be allergic to certain essential oils. The potency of these oils can make for a very unpleasant experience for the animal of the oil is introduced too quickly.
This can be done by having the animal smell the oil first, or heavily diluting a tiny quantity to the animal. Watch for signs of allergic reaction.
Cats tend to be even more sensitive to essential oils than dogs, so be mindful of this.
In fact, err on the side of caution and avoid essential oil use with cats on a whole.
Download your FREE Essential Oils Quick Reference Guide
Get instant access to your Essential Oils Quick Reference Guide.