I have one dog (a cute sausage dog called Penny), and two cats. So I know a thing or two about fleas.
I love my pets, and all animals, and hate seeing them with fleas. I started to use essential oils for fleas on my pets a couple of years ago and it’s been a lot more effective, less expensive, and smells a lot better than over-the-counter flea treatments.
Picking the oils can be difficult. Different pets react differently to different smells. The important thing is to be very careful and to introduce oils slowly.
In this article, I will cover the oils I’ve used to treat and rid fleas from my pets and their bedding areas. Using oils instead of toxic chemicals is so much safer when used correctly, enjoy!
Essential Oils for Fleas on Dogs, Cats, and Pets at Home
Citronella Essential Oil
This essential oil is one of the best for keeping away ticks, fleas, and a whole host of other insects. They hate the smell and you’ll be able to brush them out with ease.
Lemongrass Essential Oil
For many years, lemongrass has been used as a strong insecticidal oil. This means that it is very effective at deterring pests like fleas.
Cedarwood Essential Oil
Cedarwood is another essential oil that can be used to repel fleas and other insects. It is very good for this purpose, particularly when combined with lemongrass or citronella.
Thyme Essential Oil (Don’t use with Cats)
Not many people know that thyme is a powerful fungicide, pesticide, and bactericide. It can be used, very effectively, for any of these purposes.
Lavender Essential Oil (Don’t use with Cats)
Lavender is known to be very delicate and kind on human skin, but insects really hate it. This means that it will keep them away from wherever it is scattered, sprayed, or placed.
Do be aware that this essential oil can be hazardous to some types of pet. You must never allow your animals to be around anything but the tiniest amounts of lavender.
How to Use Essential Oils Safely
If you are planning to use a lavender essential oil on or around your pet, particularly as an insect repellent, there are some things that you should know first. For instance, you should know what kinds of dosages are safe and appropriate.
The following section will give you some suggestions on how to use lavender and other essential oil formulas and how to calculate a suitable dosage.
This post outlines which oils are safe and which are not for dogs.
Citronella/Lemongrass Pet Shampoo
To create a safe but effective shampoo, combine one drop of citronella or lemongrass with your regular pet shampoo treatment. For bigger pets, add two drops.
This will drive out any fleas that are feeding on the animal and it will produce a light, fresh scent.
Essential Oil Infused Brushing
You can also use essential oils to enhance your brushing regime and keep a dog or cat free of pests. This is easy to do and won’t cause your animal any harm, as long as the amounts of oil are kept at a minimum.
The formula will drive out fleas, make the fur shiny, and won’t strip the hair of essential nutrients. First, you need to get a standard steel brush. Then, position a thick piece of cloth (a hand towel is perfect) over the teeth of the brush.
Fill a bowl with warm water and add four drops of pine or cedarwood oil. Dip the whole brush head in this solution until the material is soaked through. Now, you can start to brush your pet. Be gentle and use steady and even movements.
It is a good idea to empty and refill the bowl a number of times, as the water becomes cloudy and grimy.
Each time, start again and add the same amount of essential oil.
For pets that already have a serious case of fleas, the best approach is to add four drops of cedarwood oil directly onto the cloth. If you do this before you position it in on the brush, you can rub it into the material and make sure that it is really ingrained in there.
The brush and added essential oil formula will disinfect the animal, make their fur shiny, and ward off parasites. The brushing will pick up and dislodge fleas and eggs that are already present within the fur.
Ultimately, this is a much safer and more effective method than a commercial flea collar. These products can be highly dangerous and are often completely unsuitable for animals. They contain toxins and have been known to cause fur loss and even fatalities.
You’ll notice – particularly if you put one of these collars on a cat – that pets will scratch and bite at the neck, in a bid to remove it. This is an indication that your animal is feeling uncomfortable. Also, the more they scratch, the more of those toxins find their way into the bloodstream.
The good news is that you can create a homemade pet collar, which is infused with essential oils. This is a lot simpler than you might think. All you need is a regular (non-treated) pet collar and your choice of oil (cedarwood, citronella, and thyme make a great formula). You’ll also need some pure alcohol.
Homemade Essential Oil Flea Collar
Combine 12 teaspoons of alcohol with one drop of cedarwood, thyme, and citronella. Add either two garlic capsules (empty them first) OR one teaspoon of vegetable oil and a drop of minced garlic oil.
Make sure that all of the ingredients are thoroughly mixed. Then, pour the formula gently over the entire length of the collar. It should be left to dry completely before you put it around the neck of your animal.
The formula will last (and repel insects) for around a month.
After this, you will need to repeat the process.
This post outlines which oils are toxic for cats and which are safe.
Homemade Flea Repellent Spray
This is another very effective DIY flea treatment. It can be created within a couple of minutes, using just a few ingredients.
First, combine one quart of fresh, clean water with a cup of cider apple vinegar. Then, add 2-3 drops of cedarwood or lavender. Blend and mix everything thoroughly. The best next step is to find an empty spray bottle and pour the whole mixture inside.
This formula is safe to use around and on animals. You can spray your dog or cat with it, as long as you avoid their eyes and nose. You can spray the back of the ears, but be very careful not to get any liquid inside. It is safer to spritz a cloth and wipe the ears.
If required, the formula can be sprayed on pet sheets and beds as well.
How to Use Garlic as an Insect Repellent
Garlic is a very powerful and safe insect repellent in small amounts. You can add it to pet food, but keep the doses low and use the right methods. For instance, garlic capsules are a great idea, because they are gentle on the system and can be easily digested.
The reason that garlic works for this is because fleas hate it. If there is garlic in the bloodstream, they’ll bite your pet and instantly regret it. Then, they will either leave to try and find another tastier host or they will stop feeding and die.
Protecting Your Pet from Infections
Where there are fleas, there are tiny bites and they can be more than just an irritating itch. If your pet scratches a lot, they’ll get dirt in the wounds and increase the risk of infection. Fortunately, you can help by applying essential oil treatments.
If you notice bites on your pet, use a formula of one drop lavender and water. You can also use eucalyptus if you prefer to smell or just don’t feel happy with lavender. Apply it to a soft cloth (until it is soaked) and carefully dab the bitten areas.
I’m a MA, (CMT) Certified Massage Therapist, Licensed Massage Therapist (LMT), and Reiki Master — I’m a licensed massage therapist with over 10 years of experience in the industry.