5 Best Essential oils for Treating Fleas (For Dogs, Cats, Home)

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READ FIRST: Avoid using tea tree, clove, pine, peppermint and/or pennyroyal essential oils when treating your cat or dog for fleas. Or any other time for that matter!

Concerning oils that you do choose to use on your pet – be careful to introduce them slowly and in small amounts to test for sensitivities.

It’s a sad fact that essential oils have led to the untimiley demise of some animals. Use your head and, please, be cautious! Thanks.

On using garlic:

Studies have found it takes approximately 15 to 30 grams of garlic per kilograms of body weight to produce harmful changes in a dog’s blood.

To put that into perspective, the average clove of supermarket garlic weighs between 3 and 7 grams, so your dog would have to eat a lot of garlic to get really sick.

However, some dogs are more sensitive to garlic toxicity than others, and consumption of a toxic dose spread out over a few days can also cause problems.

Despite garlic’s known toxicity, some websites and well-meaning dog owners recommend garlic supplements for dogs as part of a natural wellness plan or as a flea and tick preventative. This contradiction can be very confusing for dog owners.

Garlic as a health supplement for pets has not produced consistently positive results in studies. While very small doses might be safe for most dogs, the lack of conclusive evidence and the known risks are something for dog owners to seriously consider.

If you do decide to feed a garlic supplement, always check with your veterinarian about what is appropriate for your dog. Feeding an incorrect dose of a garlic supplement could have toxic effects, so plan on working with a veterinarian to come up with the best treatment and prevention plan for your dog.

Essential oils and Fleas

Here’s a few important considerations before we get into individual oils and DIY treatments:

  • One of the best preventions and treatment aids for fleas is to do proper housecleaning. Vacuum, regularly wash your bedding, clean your pets… etc. Fleas (and their eggs) actually spend far less time on your pets than off. So the areas where your pet frequents and sleeps are particularly important to keep clean. When vacuuming be sure to empty your bag out ASAP and outside to prevent eggs from hatching and re-infesting.
  • Be the most cautious when treating cats for fleas. Cats are more sensitive to essential oils than dogs, and they love to lick any smelly thing you put on them.
  • Dogs are scent oriented creatures, and thus have good instincts around essential oils. They know which oils are bad for them and which ones aren’t. But be careful and always use less oils than you might for a human. Their sense of smell is about 20x ours.
  • If you want to read some info just about fleas to get better informed about your enemy try here, here or here.

More of all of this later…

Now, onto the oils!

Lemongrass

Specific oils

Lemongrass is a powerful insecticidal oil and is perfectly suited for fleas. You can find it in many repellant products.

Cedarwood

cedarwood

Cedarwood is a great overall insect repellant. For fleas, it is especially effective when mixed with citronella and/or lemongrass

Citronella (do not use with cats!)

essential oil bottles on a table mint

Highly effective for fleas, ticks and all kinds of bugs! Useful for dogs, but not to be used with cats.

Thyme

thyme

Thyme is a potent bactericide, fungicide, and pesticide.

Lavender

essential oil bottle with lavender candle and stones

Lavender, while gentle and nurturing to humans, is a great insect repellent. The bugs don’t like it.

Please note that while lavender is safe for animals in small, calculated dosages; it is unhealthy to expose your pet to anything more than marginal amounts of the essential oil.

In the remedies recommended below, you will find the number of oils to be used are within safe usage. Regardless, it’s important to know as much as you can about proper use of lavender oil with pets. You can read more about proper use here.

Essential oil enhanced flea shampoo

If you shampoo your pet, consider adding 1 drop of either citronella or lemongrass to their shampoo (you’re better off with 2 drops for larger dogs).

Bonus: apart from ridding them of fleas, your pet will smell nice too.

EO Infused Brush remedy for fleas (also keeps your dog’s coat healthy)

This is a method I’ve learned for dogs. Could be okay for cats as well!

Here is a method to brush your dog and rid fleas in the process. The oils won’t disturb the natural oil balance of your dog’s skin and will improve the coat of his/her fur.

  1. Get a steel brush
  2. Place a piece of material the same size as the face of the brush (a thick material – a single layer of towel or a sheet folded three to four times)
  3. Push the material down over the teeth of your brush. You want it to lie about 1 inch above the base – depending on the length of your dog’s hair
  4. Prepare a bowl of warm water and mix in 4 drops of cedarwood and soak the prepared brush in this before brushing your dog’s coat
  5. Rinse out the brush thoroughly several times during the brushing. It’s best to wash it in a bowl of essential oil infused water.

If your dog’s got a bad case of fleas then it’s recommended to put 4 drops of cedarwood oil directly onto the piece of material. Do this before putting the material onto the brush and rub it together a bit to disperse the oils evenly.

This treatment will disinfect the dog, condition the coat and collect the parasites and eggs in the brush.

DIY essential oil based flea collars

Most of the commercial flea collars are nasty. They’re made with highly toxic chemicals which will likely be absorbed through the skin of your pet.

Cats will often not stand for them and will avoid them as much as possible. If they have them on they’ll often desperately lick and groom the area surrounding the collar – which improves the likelihood of those nasty chemicals being absorbed into their bloodstream.

An essential oil based flea collar is ideal because it will:

  • Provides excellent protection against fleas
  • They’re cheap
  • Easy to make

Directions:

  • Buy a soft material collar
  • Soak it in the following mixture:
  • Mix with 2 garlic capsules (empty them out) OR 2 drops of the following mixture: 1 tsp vegetable oil that’s been diluted with 1 drop garlic EO
  • Blend your ingredients together and pour it over the collar until fully absorbed
  • Leave to dry before putting around your pet’s neck

This treatment should be effective for about one month.

Simple DIY EO Based Flea Deterrent Spray

Here’s another great flea deterrent that also improves the coat of your pet.

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Mix your quart of fresh water with your cup of cider vinegar
  2. Add in your 2-3 drops of oils and mix it all up
  3. Add mixture to your spray bottle
  4. Mist your dog/cat, being careful to not get it in our near their eyes, nose, ears (the face in general).

Tip: if you want to get their neck/back of their ears add your spray mixture to a soft cloth and wipe it on. You can also wipe it on your pet’s bedding.

Add (a little) garlic to your pet’s diet

garlic

IMPORTANT: Note that garlic can be both therapeutic and toxic potential for pets, all dependent on quality and dosage. If you use garlic for pest control or other health reasons for your pet make sure to learn how to properly choose garlic and get the preparation right. Read more about this here. You can also read more about garlic at the top of this post. 

Fleas eat blood. Fleas don’t like garlic. If there’s garlic in the blood… the fleas will leave it alone and die.

Because of this garlic can be an effective remedy for fleas, when used with caution.

A simple way to get garlic in your pet’s system is to add 1 or 2 capsules of garlic to your pet’s food (opt for some tasty food so they’ll eat it).

Obviously, use less garlic for a cat. 2 capsules is more for bigger dogs.

Introduce an AVC flea deterrent drink

apple cider vinegar

Fleas also don’t do well with cider vinegar in the blood.

To add some AVC (apple cider vinegar) into your pet’s diet simply add 1 tsp AVC per 40 pounds of pet to 1 quart of their drinking water.

This deters fleas and improves skin and coat health.

Avoid infection from bites

lavender

It’s important to avoid infection when dealing with flea bites.

  • Bathe any bitten areas and apply a no more than 1 drop of neat lavender or eucalyptus.
  • Alternatively, dilute 3 drops of thyme in AVC (apple cider vinegar) and apply it over your bitten area(s).

Dust your pet with DE (Diatomaceous Earth)

Important note: Before reading about DE, please know that if you use it you’ll have to be very cautious to avoid your pet breathing it in. If they breathe in a lot of it it can cause respiratory upset. And make sure you use food grade diatomaceous earth!

DE is a natural product (finely crushed dead algae) mainly sourced from the Dead Sea. It’s an extremely inexpensive, non-pesticide bug killer.

If you look at DE under a microscope you’ll see that it looks kind of like a snowflake – with barbs. Each barb-like particle of DE is a nightmare for insects, especially those with antennae-like fleas. The fleas get the DE on their antennae and clean it off by eating it. It gets stuck in their throats and they die.

Though deadly to fleas, it’s not bad for cats/dogs. It can be hazardous if large quantities are breathed in (please avoid making clouds of the stuff).

You can apply it to your cat or dog once daily, and to their bedding once weekly

What you’ll need:

Directions:

  1. Wear your gloves (to avoid getting fleas on you), dust your hands with DE and pat or sprinkle it onto your pets fur
  2. Rub it in so it’s not just on the surface of their coat
  3. Avoid getting close to their nose/face. Behind the ears is okay

Occasionally dust your pet’s bedding as well (after you’ve washed it). Make sure it settles and is rubbed in well before allowing your pet on the bedding so it doesn’t cloud up and they inhale it.

Make your own $1 flea traps

A nice way to catch fleas that are in the nearby environment is to use/make a flea trap.

The video below covers how to make your own flea trap very inexpensively.

Conclusion

Hopefully, the advice in this post will help you to rid your household and pets of fleas.

If your oil remedies don’t work you might end up having to go get some Frontline Plus or Advantage Flea and Tick Killer… That’s just how it goes sometimes. This can sometimes happen in the case of long-haired cats like Maine Coons and Norwegian Forest Cats being too hard to treat naturally.

Best of luck!

Please share any questions, comments or recommendations of your own in the comment section below

Welcome to EOSanctuary

Hi. Glad to see you here. My name is Loren Elara and I run Essential Oil Sanctuary. I’d love to connect with you and share ideas. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions please make yourself heard!

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29 thoughts on “5 Best Essential oils for Treating Fleas (For Dogs, Cats, Home)”

  1. Loren,

    I don’t use conventional methods for healing. I’ve been using essential oils, holistic and natural methods for many years. Your information is very helpful and I love how it’s offered.

    I’m very impressed with your site. The information is wonderful and extremely helpful. I love the way you not only list the essential oils for the specific subject/ailment/affliction, but you also give the formulas/remedies very concisely. To add to that, you add even more alternatives. Your presentation is impressive!

    Thank you for all of your help with these things. I look forward to much more!

    1. you should really do more research or reach out to holistic vets because a lot of your information is wrong or misleading which causes fear in people who are trying to actually use oils in useful ways.

      1. Exactly- essential oils are amazing and this is so misleading. If you are using pure grade, good quality EOs and the proper way, you are not going to kill your pet.

  2. Citronella and Lavender is not safe for cats! Look it up! Its fine for dogs but cats can be harmed by both. Lavender is not as bad as the citronella so people forget the citronella. Do not risk this on your cat.

  3. Do NOT RISK using on a cat. > Essential Oils that are too High in Phenols are : Cassia (cinnamon), Thyme, Clove, Savory, Oregano.
    Essential Oils too High in Monoterpene Hydrocarbons are: Lemon, Lime, Orange, Bergamot, Tangerine, Pine, Mandarin, Spruce, Grapefruit, Fir. No exceptions.

    Other sources list additional oils as toxic to cats. According to GreenPaws.org, the following essential oils are very toxic to cats: Citrus oils Bay Cinnamon, Citronella, Clove, (Eugenol) Eucalyptus, Geranium, Lavender, Pennyroyal, Rue Tea Tree
    GreenPaws.org also states that any products containing linalool (found in lavender and coriander oils, or d-limonene, found in citrus oils), are toxic to felines.

  4. Ack! Lavender is poisonous to cats as at many other essential oils. Please edit your post to avoid unknowing pet owners from harming their furbabies!

    1. Hi Danielle. Thanks for your concern.

      In the books and online resources I’ve consulted I’ve seen that lavender oil, which is found in some cat litter and cat toys, is also generally safe when added to products designed for your cat. It is important to always check with a vet, however, if you are thinking of using concentrated lavender oil for aromatherapy or some other purpose.

  5. Wow I don’t believe this actually can work!
    Thanks for such an intersting information

    Please check out my website about fleas on cats too and let me know if something missing

  6. I put a Sentry Calming collar on my cat, because he is very skittish without the collar he will barely let me pet him. (the collar was recommended by my vet and does work for him) it has lavender in it and he has no fleas.

  7. Cats can tolerate, and actually enjoy, many essential oils that some people think are toxic for them. There is a great site, AnimalEO, featuring Melissa Shelton, vet, and the information is amazing. I use her Kitty Boost essential oil blend on my cats for fleas, upper respiratory and general ailments. Magic! You must use therapeutic grade essential oils and Melissa stresses this (do not buy from the supermarket but get your pure oils from a good organic source).

  8. About your flea trap. I read about this method in the very late 1980s when we moved from Alaska to Illinois with our two preschool children and our 80 pound shepherd malamute cross. We arrived in January and by June our dog and we were in agony!
    Our home was a mess of fleas! I never before experienced the misery of fleas! I found instructions at a children’s science book store to put soap and water into a bowl and place it under a goose neck lamp with the light on, in a dark room. We did so one night after sunset and went for a ride, leaving all other lights in the house off . When we returned we counted over 50 fleas that had jumped into the light and landed and sank to the bottom of the bowl of water and drowned. After that we kept it working for us every night and also vacuumed twice every day with a rainbow vacuum cleaner. What a lesson!

  9. Never use PINE OIL, unless you want your pet to die of liver or kidney failure very quickly. It’s toxic to them.

    1. No one said pine oil now are you speaking about cedarwood oil???? I mean i dont get where the pine oil was told to use on this site at any point because i read this and never seen that

  10. I put peppermint oil on my 10-12 lb. Japanese Chin Dogs coller while I bath her. It is too concentrated to put on her skin.
    All of the flea, tick and heart worm preventatives cause her to seizure. She get vet checked regularly and is only outside mostly on a leash or fenced in yard long enough to do her business.

  11. Just a note, never, ever use grapeseed oil as a carrier. It is highly toxic to cats and dogs! It’s in a lot of inexpensive essential oil mixes.
    I can also highly recommend animaleo.info for high quality, safe mixes for pets.

    Thank you for your article!

    1. THANK YOU for the grape seed oil tip! Had no idea and I use grape seed oil as my primary carrier oil. Phew!!

    2. Thanks for your comment, Kris. To clarify I bit: Grape skin and pulp have been associated with renal failure in dogs and cats. Grapes and raisins are definitely out. The grape seed, however, is not toxic but loaded with beneficial Omega-6 fatty acids and other plant constituents.

  12. I know this is off topic, but you look like a combination of my brother and I when we were younger, plus my first cousin Andy. He and his girlfriend gave up their son for adoption (to have a better opportunity in life) in California years ago.

    Great info. I study and sell products at farmers market. The market is very dog friendly, so it’s good to know more about pet freindly oils.

    Thanks,

  13. I have a severe flea infestation. I have put bowls of water and dawn throughout my house. My question is this, is it okay to mix orange oil with either vinegar or alcohol to spray on my kitty? I am bombing my house and giving him a flea treatment on Monday. And suffering horribly until then. If I mix the orange oil and vinegar then spray my carpet and furniture will that help? Is orange oil safe to spray on my kitty? Also how do I keep the fleas off me? If you would email me the answer I would appreciate it.

  14. Brother Stephen Marie

    Loren,

    Great website. You’re so young and doing such a professional job.

    I’m taking care of a friend’s dog while he’s on vacation. Looks like fleas, so I looked for DIY. After scanning a few sites for the EOs we have on hand, yours was by far the best. I’m going to use your info and make shampoo, spray, and introduce vinegar into dog’s drinking water to repel the fleas. Thanks!

  15. Hi Connie, were you able to rid your home off fleas? You can use lavender and peppermint oils on yourself. Eucalyptus Oil worked perfectly for me. Use them while you fight off the flea infestation or as s preventive method.

  16. Somebody told me to use eucalyptus and lemongrass mix in water in a spray bottle and spray to the dog I like to ask if this is ok to used?

  17. Nice article. I once learned of a wonderful mixture (years ago) of- 1/2 cup of baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon of orange EO, 2 drops of lavender EO, and 2 drops of rosemary EO. Been using it on my lab with great results – No more fleas! And the bonus, my dog always smells terrific.

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