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Are Home Remedies Effective for Fleas on Dogs? Our Vet Explains

Written by: Dr. Samantha Devine DVM (Veterinarian)

Last Updated on May 10, 2024 by Dogster Team

Closeup of infected mites and fleas on a dog's fur sucking blood

Are Home Remedies Effective for Fleas on Dogs? Our Vet Explains


Dr. Samantha Devine  Photo


Dr. Samantha Devine

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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If you’re fighting a battle against fleas (because, let’s face it, a battle is what it might feel like), you’re probably wondering what you can do to help your dog. A quick online search yields mixed results. Should you try treating fleas at home? Are home remedies effective if your dog has fleas? No, home remedies are not effective. Read on to learn more.

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What Fleas Do to Dogs

Fleas are the bane of many pet owners. All it takes is a visiting pet or some wild animals running through your yard, and your dog can readily get exposed to fleas. When fleas bite our pets (and us), their saliva can trigger intense itching, so your dog might develop hair loss, scabs, and even a skin infection. Fleas transmit diseases and other parasites like tapeworms. Fleas feast on blood, so dogs with a heavy infestation can quickly become anemic.

Image Credit: KanphotoSS, Shutterstock

So, Do Home Remedies Work on Fleas?

While there’s some anecdotal support that things like diatomaceous earth can help eliminate fleas, the sad fact is that most of these remedies aren’t very effective at eradicating a flea infestation.

Unfortunately, there’s no real substitute for quality flea prevention products. The Companion Animal Parasite Council recommends that all dogs be on year-round flea prevention.1

The good news is that there are many options, and some even include heartworm prevention in the product. Some examples are:

  • Seresto collar
  • Revolution
  • Advantage Multi
  • Advantix
  • Trifexis
  • Simparica
  • Simparica Trio
  • Nexgard
  • Bravecto

Yes, these products do have possible side effects. Topical flea prevention can cause hair loss at the application site. Oral products can cause gastrointestinal upset, such as vomiting. Some oral products are also associated with a lowered seizure threshold. You should work with your veterinarian to determine the most effective product for your dog and your situation.

I’ve seen too many cases of anemic dogs and cats to recommend anything but using a reliable flea preventative. Avoid the cheaper products because they often don’t work. Also, please don’t use flea prevention for dogs or cats. It is usually hazardous because cats lack certain enzymes, and that makes these products, when applied, highly toxic to cats.

Flea Control Measures That Can Help

There are some things you can do at home to help combat fleas. Keep in mind that, because of the fleas’ life cycle, eggs hatch every few weeks. You’ll need to be diligent about using prevention every month to help break the flea life cycle in your house and yard.

Don’t be afraid to seek professional help if you’re having issues with fleas. Your veterinarian can recommend a suitable prevention method to kill the current fleas, and you could contact an exterminator to treat the house and yard.

dog is treated with a flea remedy
Image Credit: Anikin Dmitrii, Shutterstock

1. Vacuuming

Flea eggs fall off our pets, into their bedding, and on the ground anywhere they walk. You can vacuum up those eggs regularly while treating your dog to help reduce the number of eggs that might hatch. According to Texas A&M, vacuuming can reduce flea eggs by 60 percent and 30 percent of larvae.

Don’t forget to empty the vacuum outside. You don’t want fleas hatching in the vacuum and hoping to repopulate your house. Consider even vacuuming the furnishings.

vacuuming furniture in a house with a hand-held portable vacuum cleaner
Image Credit: Den Rozhnovsky, Shutterstock

2. Heat

Wash all your dog’s bedding that can be laundered in the washing machine and dry it, if possible, with high heat to kill eggs. You can steam clean your furniture and drapes, which could also help.

3. Outside Control

Do your best to make your yard inhospitable to fleas. They like dark, shady areas. Cut the grass. Prune back trees and bushes if you can get more sunlight on the ground. Clean up yard debris rather than letting it sit, especially in areas your dog frequents.

There are some natural flea predators that you may want to encourage in your yard. First, birds will eat fleas, so consider attracting them to your yard with feeders and bird baths. Certain invertebrates may help control fleas, including:

  • Ladybugs
  • Fire ants
  • Nematodes

You can purchase ladybugs and even nematodes for your yard.

A Note on Home Remedies for Fleas

Garlic is sometimes touted as a flea prevention, but it is not something you should give to your dogs. Garlic can cause anemia and can potentially make your dog quite sick.  There’s also no objective scientific evidence that supports giving garlic (or brewer yeast) to treat fleas.

Some people have read about the benefits of diatomaceous earth for fleas. However, even diatomaceous earth can irritate dogs if applied to their bodies or to an area where they walk or lie down.

small dog Chihuahua drip with a drop of fleas and mites
Image Credit: Alexsander Ovsyannikov, Shutterstock

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Can I put baking soda on my dog to kill fleas?

There’s no evidence that putting baking soda in your dog will kill fleas, likely making quite a mess. Stick with formulated flea prevention products.

Will vinegar kill fleas on my dog?

Vinegar is not likely to kill fleas on your dog, but it might help repel them. That said, the vinegar can disrupt the normal pH of your dog’s coat and lead to skin issues.

white vinegar on wooden table
Image Credit: focal point, Shutterstock

Will hydrogen peroxide kill fleas on my dog?

Peroxide is not likely to kill any fleas on your dog, but it can delay wound healing if your dog has wounds from itching related to the fleas. It can also cause issues like blindness if it gets into your dog’s eyes or vomiting if it gets into your dog’s mouth.

Can I spray rubbing alcohol on my dog to kill fleas?

While rubbing alcohol kills fleas, it can also be toxic to your dog. This household chemical can significantly dry out your dog’s skin and burn any open sores if it comes into contact with it. It can also cause damage if your dog gets it into its eyes.

dogster paw dividerConclusion

Fleas are hard to get rid of and incredibly frustrating for pet owners to deal with. Talk to your veterinarian about reliable prevention products if you’re facing a flea problem or want to prevent one.

See also:

Featured Image Credit: ThamKC, Shutterstock

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