Fleas are annoying, but every pet owner knows the pests are actually more than a nuisance—their bites can cause itching and irritation on your pets skin, and they carry a myriad of diseases, too. There are plenty of options available for killing fleas, but many contain chemicals and non-natural ingredients.

A natural flea preventative is likely sitting in your pantry right now: apple cider vinegar. It can be an inexpensive alternative to pricey medications, and it’s easy to use. Read on to learn more about how to use apple cider vinegar for fleas.

Apple Cider Vinegar: A Natural Flea Killer?

Apple cider vinegar doesn’t actually kill fleas, but it does provide an unpleasant environment that will make fleas want to move on. Both the smell and the taste are off-putting to fleas, which means they avoid your pet if they smell and taste like apple cider vinegar.

Apple cider vinegar is best used as a preventative measure in protecting your pets against fleas. And while there are plenty of commercial products available for killing and preventing fleas, not all veterinarians like them. Many veterinarians now recommend using natural flea products instead of chemicals due to the many detrimental side effects that can occur when using chemical products.

Many of the commercial options contain chemicals that can potentially negatively affect not only the pet, but also the humans—including children—who administer them and come in close contact with the treated pets.

Using apple cider vinegar as a preventative flea treatment will make things easier for you later. Just keep in mind that fleas are much harder to deal with once they’re on your pet and in your home.

How to Use Apple Cider Vinegar to Prevent Fleas

Pouring a bottle of apple cider vinegar over your pet will not magically make fleas disappear—so don’t try it. However, there are multiple ways this natural flea repellent can be used: in drinking water, in baths and as a spray.

If you choose to use apple cider vinegar to bathe your pet, using a diluted solution is best. This option can be used as a preventative or a treatment, depending on your needs.

Adding apple cider vinegar to your dog’s drinking water can be a good option, but it may be a little tricky, explains Matheson. For this option you should include a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar for every quart of water, but your dog might not be a fan at first. You may have to introduce this gradually because apple cider vinegar does have a distinct taste.

How to Make an Apple Cider Vinegar Flea Spray

To use apple cider vinegar in a spray, just add equal amounts of apple cider vinegar and water to a spray bottle. Spray the mixture on your pet when you notice fleas, or before they go outside to discourage fleas at the outset. This mixture can also be used in your home if you notice fleas in your carpets or bedding, but be sure to always test on a small area first to see how the material will react.

If using the spray method, it’s important to be aware of where you’re spraying. Be careful to avoid their eyes, noses and ear area when you’re misting around the face.

This spray can be even more effective if you add a few drops of some essential oils. Adding lavender, cedar oil, or both will provide flea-repellent properties and will make your dog smell a little better than if you just use apple cider vinegar.

Other Home Remedies for Fleas on Dogs

Apple cider vinegar can be used as a natural flea killer in many ways, but dog owners have other natural options, too.

Many people like to use essential oils on their own pets when necessary. It’s important to make sure essential oils are diluted before use on your pet because otherwise they’re too strong and could cause skin irritation or respiratory distress These oils can be mixed with water and added to your dog’s collar before he heads outside. Use 8-10 drops of oil and two tablespoons of water to make the mixture. Oils such as lemongrass, cedar wood, peppermint, rosemary and thyme are also safe and effective mixtures to use as possible flea preventatives. It’s equally important to know which oils not to use on pets—tea tree oil, for example, can be toxic to both cats and dogs.

Another recommendation is that of using lemon as a home remedy for fleas on dogs. Similar to the vinegar, fleas are repelled by the taste of lemon. Simply add a cup of lemon juice to your dog’s bath or include some on a comb while you’re brushing them out.

Natural flea killers, however, aren’t without their downsides. Many of the products need to be reapplied on a regular basis but are well worth the effort to keep our pets and families safe.

Just remember that it’s always best to work with a veterinarian to safely control and prevent fleas, even if you’re using natural products.

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