5 Home Remedies for Fleas on Dogs

From treating your dog to treating your home, we’ve found a few easy home remedies for fleas on dogs.

An itchy dog.
An itchy dog. Photography by Christian Mueller / Shutterstock.

There are several medical flea treatments that work wonders at stopping fleas from wreaking havoc on your pup, but that doesn’t mean you can’t try some home remedies for fleas on dogs, too!

Fleas on dogs can be a real bummer for you and a health hazard for your dog. If you take your dog to the vet with a skin irritation one of the first questions your vet will ask will be, “what flea treatment do you have your pup on?” Let’s take a look at a few different home remedies for fleas on dogs.

1. Home remedies for fleas on dogs — treating your dog from the outside:

An itchy puppy.
There are a few home remedies for fleas on dogs! Photography by Dora Zett / Shutterstock.

We’ve talked about how vinegar is a great, pet-friendly cleaning solution, but it’s also used in home remedies for fleas on dogs. It turns out that fleas don’t like the smell of vinegar and you can use that to your advantage.

What you need:

  1. A clean spray bottle, one that hasn’t had any chemical cleaning products in it.
  2. White vinegar and apple cider vinegar (ACV) both work. Pick your favorite, whatever is in your cupboard already or what’s on sale.

What to do:

  1. Mix water and vinegar together. The most effective solution is a 1:1 ratio. If your dog finds that smell offensive, you can dilute as much as 1:3, vinegar to water.
  2. Spray your dog, making sure to avoid his eyes and any open sores. Let your dog’s fur air dry. Repeat this at-home flea treatment for a couple of days.
  3. If your dog doesn’t like the spray bottle, soak a washcloth in the mixture and wipe your pup down with it.

2. Home remedies for fleas on dogs — treating your dog from the inside:

There are home remedies for fleas on dogs that can treat your dog from the inside, too. Apple cider vinegar added to your dog’s water bowl can give your dog’s skin an acidy taste that will make him less attractive to fleas.

What you need:

  1. Apple cider vinegar (ACV)
  2. Water
  3. Dog’s water bowl

What to do:

  1. A good rule of thumb is to mix a teaspoon of ACV for every quart of water. It’s best to consult your vet to see what amount of vinegar a dog of your pup’s weight can safely ingest.
  2. Your pup may turn up his nose at this new liquid mix. If so, start with just a tiny amount of ACV and increase the strength as your dog gets used to the smell and taste.

3. Home remedies for fleas on dogs — keep your yard flea free and dog safe:

Keeping your yard flea free (but still dog safe!) is one of the most effective home remedies for fleas on dogs since it’s preventative. Here’s how:

  1. Diatomaceous Earth – Food-grade diatomaceous earth is a natural and safe product made from the fossilized remains of tiny organisms. The silica that make up these organisms absorbs into insects with an exoskeleton, like fleas, and causes them to dry out and die. When you use it outside, just liberally sprinkle it everywhere you think fleas may be hiding out.
  2. Sun – Fleas, much like their blood-sucking vampire relatives, don’t love the sun. Keep your garden as shade free as possible.
  3. Plant an herb garden – Planting strong-smelling herbs near your doors and windows can help prevent fleas from hanging around too long. Try thyme, sage, clove, basil, lavender or mint.
  4. Natural predators – Snakes, ants, beetles, spiders, frogs and lizards eat fleas. In fact, you can add natural predators to your yard! Nematodes are multicellular animals that are deadly to flea pupae and larval. You can purchase them online or at a local garden store.

4. Home remedies for fleas on dogs — keep your dog’s items flea free with heat:

Your secret weapon to keep your dog’s bedding, linens, clothes and toys flea free is heat. Anything that can be safely washed in hot water and dried on high heat, should be weekly. Fleas won’t survive the double attack of heat.

5. Home remedies for fleas on dogs — make your home unfriendly to fleas with natural house sprays:

Vacuuming is one of your best home remedies for fleas on dogs, but you can also pay extra attention to your dog’s favorite lounging spots with one of the following homemade house sprays:

  1. Lemon – Cut up a lemon and steep it in water overnight. Add it to a spray bottle and you have a pleasant-smelling homemade flea repellant that can safely be used near your pup’s favorite spots or even on him.
  2. Salt – Clean hardwood floors and tile floors around your dog’s bed with a salt/water mix.
  3. Essential Oils – Rosemary, tea tree and lavender don’t smell good to fleas. You can use them to help keep your living space smelling nice — and staying flea free. But use essential oils with caution. Some essential oils are harmful to pets. Talk to a vet to ensure that the scent and the way you are using the oil are safe for your dog.

Hopefully you’ll only need preventive home remedies for fleas on dogs this season.

Learn about more nontoxic ways to remove fleas on Whole Dog Journal >>

Tell us: What do you use at home to keep fleas at bay? What are your tried-and-true home remedies for fleas on dogs? Let us know in the comments below.

Thumbnail: Photography by Christian Mueller / Shutterstock.

This piece was originally published in 2018. 

About the author

Wendy Newell is a former VP of Sales turned dog sitter, which keeps her busy being a dog chauffeur, picking up poop and sacrificing her bed. Wendy and her dog, Riggins, take their always-changing pack of pups on adventures throughout the Los Angeles area. Learn more about them on Facebook @The Active Pack and on Instagram @wnewell.

Read about more dog-friendly home remedies on Dogster.com:

43 thoughts on “5 Home Remedies for Fleas on Dogs”

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  3. Darnette Beasley

    I have a 5 yr. old German/Belgium shepard mix. His fur is still long and sheds like a German shepard. I say he sheds all himself daily (just joking); but it lays smoothly like a Belgium. I tried the 100% extra virgin coconut oil in liquid form on my dog. It killed the fleas instantly. His fur was puppy soft for about two weeks after it had dried. There is one MAJOR draw back… it took a few days to dry on his fur, so everywhere he sat he left a oil spot once he got up. There was a minor draw back also, he continuously licked the oil. However, it did not upset his stomach, or give him the runs which I was worried might happen. I tried the apple cidar vinegar on the furniture and out doors, not sure if that worked. The vinegar smell kept me from sitting on the sofa. My husband did not even smell it at all. So, I have no clue if it worked on the furniture or not. It did not work outside & I have a small yard. I plan to try the ACV in his water. I hope it works to keep the fleas away from him. The oils may not be safe, so I’ll stay away from them. Anyway, thanks for your help.

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  12. I’ve tried to cut up rosemary and add salt to that and then I added it to my dogs bed I also sprayed a lemon mixture made out of hot water, fresh lemon juice and salt. I also gave them a bag yesterday and added a little bit of tea tree oil and it worked a gem I definitely recommend that.

  13. I do that. I also have just learned about cedarwood oil. Adding cedarwood oil to my spray bottle seems to have helped a lot. Ants got into my cat’s food dish and on the wall. Yesterday I sprayed and they are gone today.

  14. Can you spray a diluted mixture of tea tree, lavender or rosemary (essential oil) directly on your dog?

    1. You can but my dog hates the smell of tea tree oil. Also tea tree oil is harmful for dogs to ingest. I recommend putting a drop of tea tree oil in between his ears where he can’t reach it to lick it off. I have tried the tea tree oil it seems to work for one or two days. The best solution I have found is the alcohol mixture spray. Have listed the recipe above. I hope that helps.

    2. Check with your vet or a certified animal aromatherapist. Many oils can be toxic or fatal. I was told NO tea tree ever.

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      1. It works but can be stinky. I prefer to use alchol. Mix 3/4 alcohol with 1/4 water in spray bottle. Alcohol kills fleas and any bacteria they have on their skin. It also drys fast. I also spray the dog bedding in between washings.

      2. I always squirt Bragg’s Apple cider vinegar into my dogs’ water bucket and sometimes they run there to see what I am doing and I have seen them wait for me to add the vinegar. I guess they like it????

    1. Yes you can give your dog a vinegar rinse. I give my dog vinegar in his water and after a few days he loves it and always wants the apple cider vinegar in his water.

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