This summer the fleas and ticks are out in force! But over-the-counter (OTC) flea and tick products like Frontline or K9 Advantix can be dangerous for your dog. So, what can you do to keep your pet bug-free without running the risk of exposing them to chemicals that can hurt them?

Turns out, you have a lot of options. Of course, for these to be as effective as possible, it helps if your pet is already on a raw diet. That will help support their immune system and make them strong from the inside out. To be honest, most of the time that’s all it takes for my dogs to stay parasite-free. But this year was different. This year, they picked up some fleas. So, I had to dip into my parasite arsenal.

If you’re in the same boat, read on for some different things you can try. What you pick will depend on what you have available to you and what works best for you and your dog’s particular situation. Experiment until you find what works for you, and then get back to enjoying the summer!

Bug weapon #1: Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)

ACV is a great way to control fleas and ticks naturally. Get a dark glass spray bottle and make a 1:1 solution of distilled water and raw, organic, unfiltered ACV (I use Bragg’s). Then, spritz your dog with it before you go outside. Make sure to avoid their eyes, noses, and inside their ears, of course.

Bonus—Stephanie Seger of Big Dog Mom told me that she uses this to help keep flies off her dogs too. If the flies are bad where you are, try spritzing your dog with the solution to keep them away. Thanks for the tip, Stephanie!

Bug weapon #2: Cedarcide

Cedarcide was what I used to help get a handle on my dogs’ flea problem this summer. It’s safe and non-toxic, but it’s also super effective at killing fleas. You just shake the bottle and spray your dog with it (avoiding their face and ears, of course). Then, after 60 seconds, you can comb your dog to remove the dead fleas.

To bump up the Cedarcide’s effectiveness even more, you can add essential oils to it. Try adding oils like lavender, citronella, peppermint, and/or lemongrass. Shake it up and then spritz your dog.

When we were dealing with the fleas, I sprayed them every day for about 3 days. By the third day, the fleas were gone.

If you’re in the USA, you can order Cedarcide at The Dog Breeder Store. If you’re outside of the USA, check the Cedarcide website for a list of retailers/distributors close to you.

Bug weapon #3: Essential oils

If you want to keep things really simple, you can combine essential oils in a dark glass spray bottle, along with organic witch hazel (available through Amazon) or distilled water and a drop or two of unscented Castile soap (used as an emollient), for a great all-natural bug spray.

I usually add about 1 cup of water and 4 drops of the Castile soap (or just 1 cup of organic witch hazel without the soap) to the spray bottle, then add about 10 drops of each oil. Remember to shake the bottle before you spray your dog to combine the ingredients. And, as always, avoid spraying it on their face or in their ears.

You can experiment with which essential oils work best for you and your dog, but some good ones to start with are:

  • Lavender
  • Citronella
  • Lemongrass
  • Peppermint
  • Purification
  • Cedarwood

Using multiple oils can help make the spray effective against several different pests (for example, you can make a spray that’s effective against mosquitoes and flies as well as fleas and ticks). Experiment to see what works best for your dog!

Bug weapon #4: Homeopathic remedies

The homeopathic remedy Psorinum 30C can help keep fleas and ticks away from your dog. I’ve seen it recommended to give your dog 3 pellets daily for 7 days, and then give them 3 pellets once per week after that. It does take some time to build up in the system, so if you have just started your pet on it, you may need to use one of the other suggestions to keep fleas and ticks away while the homeopathic builds up.

I just started my pets on this a month or so ago, and I plan on continuing it throughout the summer. To give it, I just drop the pellets into my dogs’ cheek pouches so the pellets come into contact with their mucosal membranes. I let it dissolve (or mostly dissolve). But, if your dog won’t let you give it to them this way, you can give it however you would normally give homeopathic remedies.

A reminder about natural remedies

Remember, because these are natural remedies, they work a little differently than the OTC preventives. Particularly in the case of the sprays, you have to apply them as needed rather than on a monthly basis. So, if you go the spray route, keep a bottle of your chosen bug weapon handy so you can use it when you need it.

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Adapted with permission from Raw Pet Digest.