If you own a pet, you may have encountered a time when your pet is fidgety, attempting to remove things from its body. This is a sign of fleas, which isn’t ideal for your pet or you, as the owner.
Fleas can lead to skin irritation and itching. They may even cause diseases, like anemia or tapeworms.
If your pet has fleas, there are lots of chemical options that work well at eliminating these pests. However, if you have small children, or prefer natural solutions, you may not want to use these chemical solutions.
If this is the case, there are natural flea remedies available, like essential oils, that may provide a solution.
A note to keep in mind is that you should always confirm with a veterinarian that your pet has fleas before using natural remedies, as there are lots of health issues that lead to similar symptoms.
Using essential oils on pets is more of a new approach, so if you do use them, you need to do so in a manner that is safe for your pet.
You’ll find 8 of the best essential oils to use for fleas below. Four of these are suitable for cats, while the other four are suitable for dogs.
You’ll also learn more about how essential oils can eliminate fleas, as well as some other treatments to keep fleas out of your home.
What Are Fleas?
Fleas are tiny, parasitic beings that affect animals, like cats and dogs. Fleas can also affect humans, leading to itchy and irritated skin symptoms.
After a house becomes infested with fleas, it can be very hard to remove them. This is why prevention works better than a cure.
Here are some of the places where fleas can reside:
- Animals: Pets can pick up fleas from other animals they come across, like different household pets, rabbits, and deer.
- Humans: Humans can carry fleas without even being aware of them. Fleas can stick to shoes, pants, and socks without you noticing. These creatures are great at finding ways of sticking to possible hosts and locating their next meal.
- Outdoors: Fleas like to gather in humid, moist, and dark locations. They are often found in wood piles and tall grassy areas. Fleas can also live for three months without attaching to a host.
What Are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are strong, concentrated extracts taken from leaves, fruits, flowers, and seeds. Some common examples of essential oils are lavender, sandalwood, mint, clove, and orange oils.
The process of extracting essential oils begins with a large quantity of the plant. The most useful elements are extracted from the plants and are treated with a strong solution. This mixture is high in the chosen active substance.
Several brands add carrier oils to their product, but this means that the essential oils aren’t pure anymore.
A carrier oil is often used to dilute an essential oil before it is applied topically. Essential oils are very strong and can be irritating if they aren’t diluted.
Essential oils will need to be diluted before they are used on pets. This prevents the animal from being exposed to strong oils and their potent effects. Some examples of carrier oils are almond oil, grapeseed oil, and olive oil.
However, some of these carrier oils may lead to problems with pets, as well as the essential oil itself. If the oils are ingested, they can cause severe stomach problems. If a harmful oil is inhaled, the oil can be detrimental to the lungs.
Despite this, essential oils can be pet safe, as long as they are used in the correct amounts. Some of these may even deliver benefits, like antibacterial effects to heal flea bites, or soothing irritated skin.
How Can Essential Oils Eliminate Fleas?
Here are some of the ways essential oils may help eliminate fleas:
- Essential oils that have antiinflammatory effects may provide relief from scratching and itching related to flea bites.
- Essential oils may have antiseptic properties that can improve your pet’s healing process. These may also relieve any pain from the bites and keep fleas away from your pet.
- Essential oils also have aromatic properties that deliver relaxing effects. These soothing properties may also affect pets in the same way as they do humans. Research shows that the fragrance of some oils may soothe any pets that suffer from anxiety, though more studies are needed to confirm this.
If you do use essential oils on pets, you should only use a high-quality product, like an organic oil. Lower-quality oils may contain additives that can be harmful to your pet.
Essential oils should also only be used when diluted. They should never be used on pets that are younger than ten weeks, pregnant, or sick.
Always remain cautious when using essential oils and keep an eye out for any signs of allergic reactions, like itching, wheezing, or coughing.
Best Essential Oils For Fleas: Cats
Cats are very different from dogs, as they only have a tiny amount of glucuronyl transferase. This is a liver enzyme that makes it harder to process carbolic acid.
This substance isn’t present in every essential oil, but it is in a lot of them, so always be cautious.
The wrong essential oil can be detrimental to a cat’s well-being, but some options are safe for your beloved feline. These include:
Cedarwood oil can eliminate fleas on sight. This oil is sourced with steam distillation methods. It is generally made without carbolic acid, so it is usually safe to use with cats.
To use cedarwood oil, mix two drops of it with two tablespoons of coconut oil, then massage it into your cat’s fur. Focus on areas like their neck, lower back, and armpits, as fleas tend to reside in these places.
Lavender oil is made with a substance called linalool. This can be poisonous to cats if it is ingested, but it can be applied topically if it is diluted with carrier oil.
Mix two drops of lavender essential oil with one cup of carrier oil to create a flea-repellent. Fleas don’t like the way lavender smells and will keep away from any cat that has been treated with it.
Neem oil is an example of an oil that cats tend to tolerate well.
You can add a teaspoon of the neem oil to a cup of your cat’s shampoo. Neem oil can work well at keeping ticks and fleas off of your pet.
If your cat doesn’t like baths, apply a very small drop of the oil on their outer collar. This should help to repel fleas.
Rosemary is a good flea-control agent that can be used on cats.
Add two drops of rosemary oil to a cup of clean water, then pour into a spray bottle. Shake the container to mix the oil and water, then spray the mixture over your cat’s fur, taking care to avoid their face.
A Note On Coconut Oil
Coconut oil isn’t an essential oil, but this carrier oil contains lauric acid, a substance that can kill fleas. This fatty acid coats the flea’s outer shell to suffocate the pest.
This is one of the best carrier oils to use on cats as it is safe and very effective at eliminating fleas.
Best Essential Oils For Fleas: Dogs
Dogs aren’t as sensitive to essential oils as cats are, so there are lots of different oils you can use to repel fleas from your dog’s fur.
The oils mentioned above, which are safe for cats, are also safe for dogs, but some examples are particularly effective for dogs. These include:
Peppermint isn’t safe for cats, but it is safe to use around dogs.
You can apply a small drop on the outside of your dog’s collar, diffuse it around your home, or apply a diluted spray to your dog’s fur.
This readily available oil can work well at eliminating fleas. You can use it by adding 20 drops of the oil to two cups of water, then pouring the mixture into a spray bottle. Spray the mixture on your dog’s coat as needed.
Fleas detest how lemongrass smells. It also contains geraniol and citral, both of which work to repel parasites and fleas.
You can make lemongrass flea repellent by mixing five drops of oil with a cup of water, then applying it to your dog’s coat. Pay attention to areas fleas like to hide in, like the back of the neck, tail, and under the armpits.
Rose Geranium Oil
Rose geranium oil is antifungal and can work well at deterring ticks and fleas. The oil can be used without diluting it first, but only in very small amounts.
Place one small drop of rose geranium oil at the bottom of your dog’s tail and in the middle of its shoulder blades. Do not use more than one drop. We want to avoid your dog licking and ingesting the undiluted oil.
You can also apply a few drops of the oil to your dog’s shampoo, or place a drop on their collar when they go for a stroll in long, grassy places.
If you’re using an essential oil spray, aim to brush against the grain of your pup’s coat (see also “How To Make Your Own DIY Essential Oil Spray“). This ensures you reach right down to your dog’s skin, removing any fleas, larvae, or eggs that are hiding beneath.
How Long Do Essential Oil Flea Treatments Work For?
Commercial flea products are easy to apply and can have long-lasting effects, so pet owners don’t have to spend much effort applying the treatment to their animals.
However, these products are often packed with chemicals that can be toxic to pets, particularly if they are used regularly.
In the case of essential oils, some of these oils can work well, but they do require more effort. In most cases, you will need to keep applying essential oil treatments to your pet frequently, usually once every week.
This may be a lot of work for some, but the advantages of natural treatments outweigh the drawbacks.
Some essential oil treatments can keep fleas away, as long as they aren’t washed away.
If your pet likes to take a swim regularly, or you live in a particularly rainy location, make bigger batches of your flea-repellent spray and store them in a cool, dark, and dry place.
Essential Oil Home Treatments To Repel Fleas
A few essential oils do kill fleas instantly, like cedarwood oil, but most of them repel fleas as they hate the way they smell. Essential oils can be used in your home to deter fleas as they will work hard to get away from the scent.
Here are some options you can try for yourself at home, but make sure that the oils won’t be harmful to your pet before you use them. If this is the case, swap the oils for ones that won’t be toxic to your pet.
Eucalyptus Oil Carpet Powder
To make a flea deterrent carpet cleaner, add 15 drops of eucalyptus oil to a cup of cornstarch, then mix well to combine.
Sprinkle the mixture evenly over your carpet, then lightly brush it into the fibers with a broom. After 48 hours have passed, vacuum the carpet thoroughly to remove the powder.
Vinegar, Cedarwood, And Peppermint Spray
Cedarwood oil can kill fleas, but you can swap it for another oil if you don’t have it on hand. Add 20 drops of cedarwood oil into a 34 oz bottle, then fill it with equal amounts of water and vinegar.
Shake the bottle well and spray your curtains, furniture, and skirting boards with the mixture. Aim to apply the blend a minimum of once per week.
You can create a personal blend of essential oils that won’t just deter fleas, but add a nice fragrance to your home.
Mix a few essential oils that you like into an essential oil diffuser, then let the device work for 15 minutes. Repeat during the day as needed.
As noted above, make sure that your choice of oils is suitable for your pet. Additionally, if you plan on using oil diffusers in your home, you need to ensure that the space is well-ventilated.
Animals have a much stronger smell compared to ours, so they can be overpowered by the fragrance. Keep any doors and windows open, and take breaks when using the diffuser.
Safety Tips When Using Essential Oils To Repel Fleas
Now that you know some essential oils that can deter fleas, it’s important to go over some safety tips to ensure you don’t harm your pet.
As noted above, a lot of essential oils are toxic to animals, especially cats, so check with your vet before you try any of the oils in this post.
Here are some precautions to bear in mind when using essential oils for fleas:
Don’t apply essential oils to your pet in a manner that you wouldn’t use on yourself. Essential oils are very strong and can cause serious side effects if they aren’t diluted.
Always dilute essential oils with carrier oil before you apply them to your pet.
Here are some types of pet-friendly carrier oils:
- Coconut oil
- Avocado oil
- Jojoba oil
- Sunflower Oil
- Castor oil
- Sweet almond oil
Essential oils should never be ingested, due to their strength. Consuming any type of essential oils can lead to serious stomach issues, and may even be fatal. Keep essential oils well away from pets.
Ignore any advice that claims it is fine to add essential oils to your pet’s water or food.
Keep an eye out for symptoms of essential oil toxicity. If your pet starts to experience diarrhea, vomiting, weakness, depression, tremors, drooling, or other unusual behavior, discontinue treatment and seek a vet’s aid, immediately.
As mentioned above, never use essential oil treatments on pets that are pregnant, sick, or younger than ten weeks.
The Bottom Line
Essential oils can be used to repel fleas, but you need to take safety precautions to avoid harming your pet. There are lots of essential oils that can be used on pets, but there are also many which can be toxic to your furry friend.
Cat owners should take extra precautions, as cats find it harder to process carbolic acid, a substance that is present in lots of essential oils.
By the same token, even though dogs aren’t as sensitive as cats, you should still take care to ensure your chosen essential oil is safe for your beloved pup.
Remember to dilute your essential oil with a carrier oil before you apply it to your pet, and keep an eye out for any signs of toxicity.
Essential oils can work well at repelling fleas, but make sure you keep grooming your pet regularly and visit the vet for frequent checkups. Prevention works better than a cure!