Natural Flea and Tick Powders for Dogs and Cats

Keep your furry companions pest-free with these natural alternatives to chemical flea and tick treatments.

Photo by Getty Images/Group4 Studio

As an herbalist, I often hear from folks who are looking for safe, effective alternatives to the standard chemical arsenal available to fend off insects and pests on the body and in the home. I’ve made my own herb-based products for years, because I react poorly to a number of common pesticides and insecticides. My natural formulas keep my home relatively bug-free, plus they smell pleasant and keep my skin and respiratory tract happy.

As for our pets, they don’t like being pestered by pests either, namely fleas and ticks. In addition to being an irritating nuisance, these pests pose potential health risks to you and your pets. Fleas are responsible for “flea allergy dermatitis” (FAD), a skin condition caused by an allergic reaction to fleas and flea bites. And if a tapeworm-infected flea is ingested while your pet grooms itself, intestinal tapeworms may develop. If left unchecked, tapeworms can lead to several complications, including weight loss and intestinal blockage. As for ticks, they’re carriers of a number of diseases, including Lyme disease, which can affect both you and your pets.

Understandably, we want to protect our furry companions from those pesky pests. Just like humans, however, dogs and cats can react poorly to chemical-based products, including spot-on liquid insecticides and powders. My two cats used to suffer skin and respiratory irritation after chemical pest treatments. For hours after the application they’d experience itchy skin and would break out in rashes. They’d also lose their appetites until the initial chemical shock of the spot-on liquid application wore off. As an alternative, I created herbal formulations that keep them comfortable and healthy, and, as a bonus, smelling fresh and clean.

Many plants, including rosemary, lavender, lemongrass, geranium, cedar, black walnut, and neem, contain intensely aromatic volatile oils that, while appealing to most humans, repel many winged and crawling critters. Other natural ingredients, such as diatomaceous earth, act as insecticides rather than mere repellents. (See “The Details on Diatomaceous Earth and Bentonite Clay” below for more details.)  When these products are used properly, they’re harmless to people, pets, and the environment. So, if you want to naturally protect your dogs and cats against ticks and fleas, do what I’ve done for the past 20 years: Ditch the chemicals and make your own effective, herb-based formulas.

Herbal Recipes

These herbal powders are most effective when applied regularly — once or twice per week. Don’t worry about your pets licking themselves following an application; diatomaceous earth and bentonite clay are harmless to pets, and even contain beneficial trace minerals. Additionally, the powders act as a deodorizer and a dry shampoo, leaving your pets’ coats smelling fresh and clean. Of course, if your pets like to take a dip in the local pond or creek, or romp in the rain, you’ll have to reapply once their fur dries.

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