At Home Flea Remedies: The Bad, the Worse, and the Ugly

WelsNat_iStock_000047785894_Large (3)It is finally starting to warm up in Massachusetts. With the sunshine and short sleeve shirts, though, come some not-so-fun visitors. As the weather warms many insects become more active, not the least of which is our friend the flea.

While your veterinarian at Wellesley-Natick Veterinary Hospital are more than happy to help you develop a good parasite prevention plan for your pet, many people still turn to the Internet and word of mouth for do-it-yourself at home flea remedies. Keep reading to learn why we don’t advocate these treatments and what you can do to protect your pet from parasites.

Debunking Popular at Home Flea Remedies

It only takes a quick Google search to stumble upon a dozen or so at home flea remedies for pets. Here are a few of the more commonly recommended treatments and our concerns:

Apple cider vinegar – You might consider apple cider vinegar a little bit trendy. While this pungent liquid has some beneficial properties, in recent years it has become a popular choice to fix whatever may ail you. Currently, there is no good evidence that apple cider vinegar has any properties that are helpful in a flea infestation. It is unlikely to do any harm, but it certainly isn’t going to fix your problem.

Diatomaceous earth – This naturally occurring rock comes in a powdery form and is known to have anti-parasitic effects. It works by damaging the little critters with its sharp edges. When sprinkled in the environment, it can certainly kill fleas. So what is the downside? When it is spread it is easily inhaled and has been shown to cause damage to the lungs. It must also be applied to the pet and environment often to work well.

Dish soap – A good old fashioned bath in Dawn dish soap with a flea comb in hand is a good way to remove fleas from your pet and drown them. Unfortunately, in a bad infestation you could probably give your pet several baths a day and still not keep up.

Garlic – Many people will tell you that feeding your pet garlic is an effective way to control fleas. Unfortunately, there really isn’t anything besides anecdotal testimony to support this. Furthermore, if fed in high enough concentrations, garlic can be toxic to pets.

We are all for keeping things simple, and many times at home flea remedies make the situation more complicated than it needs to be. Thanks to modern medicine, we have several safe, effective options for flea prevention and treatment in pets.

Our Recommendations

Every situation is different, but there is a good option for almost every pet out there to control fleas.

Prevention is the best medicine. By the time you see one flea on your pet, there are already another 5 or so in the environment waiting to grow to adulthood. With a good flea prevention program, our goal is for you to never see that flea.

We have several FDA approved flea preventative medications for dogs and cats. Because these medications not only kill existing fleas, but have residual effects that kill new fleas as they hatch, they are a powerful way of controlling the flea life cycle.

We are happy to discuss your pet’s options with you and help you to select the best treatment plan for your individual situation. With a good plan, there is no need for at home flea remedies, because flea infestations will be a thing of the past.