It's that itchy, scratchy season for pets when fleas rear their ugly, annoying microscopic heads. Of course there are lots of chemical treatments and collars that can wipe out the annoying pests. But if those chemicals aren't safe for you or your children to touch, do you really want them on your furry friends?

Here are some more natural flea remedies to try instead.

Natural flea collars

If you don't want to hang a chemical flea collar around your pet's neck, you can make a natural version, suggests Reader's Digest. Just buy an inexpensive nylon or cotton pet collar. Then pour one of the following mixtures over the flat collar and let it dry. Refresh the collar weekly.

For cats:

1 teaspoon unflavored vodka and 1 drop geranium essential oil


1 teaspoon unflavored vodka and 1 drop cedarwood essential oil

For dogs:

1 teaspoon unflavored vodka, 1 drop rosemary essential oil, 1 drop thyme essential oil and garlic oil from 1 small capsule


1 teaspoon unflavored vodka, 1 drop eucalyptus essential oil, 1 drop cedarwood essential oil and 1 drop lemongrass essential oil


Nematodes are microscopic worm-like parasites. There are many different kinds and some can be beneficial because they feed on pests, such as fleas. You can buy nematodes at garden stores. Just mix them with water and spray them around your yard, reports SF Gate. Nematodes need moisture on a regular basis, so you should water your lawn every couple of days to make sure the beneficial parasites survive.

Will they work? It may depend on the soil in your yard. According to the University of Florida Extension, not enough studies have been conducted on nematode effectiveness as a method of flea control when applied to lawns. In addition, soil composition seems to affect how well they work.

Apple cider vinegar

dog drinking from water bowl Adding apple cider vinegar to your pet's drinking water may help deter fleas. (Photo: Eduard Darchinyan/Shutterstock)

Health food proponents have long touted the benefits of apple cider vinegar. Fans say it also has flea prevention benefits for pets — when applied topically and given orally.

DogsNaturally suggests mixing up a solution of half raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar and half water and spritzing your pet's coat. The same should work for cats, but you may find that your feline friend is less tolerant of being sprayed. In that case, Kitty Cat Chronicles recommends repeatedly dipping a flea comb in the vinegar and water solution and combing your kitty's fur.

To get the pests from the inside out, try adding 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to your pet's drinking water. You may find that your pet is too picky to drink the doctored concoction, but the vinegar-laced mix may also help repel fleas. You may want to check with your vet before you spike Fluffy's H2O, and keep an eye out for any unusual reactions.

“You have to apply common sense,” Sue Ann Lesser, D.V.M., told The Whole Dog Journal. “Most dogs are notoriously over-alkaline, and cider vinegar will help them. If a dog’s system is overly acidic, you’ll see clinical signs, such as obvious symptoms of illness. I know quite a few dogs that take cider vinegar … and I don’t know of any that have had bad results.”

Brewer's yeast

It sounds basic, but it's true. "Healthy pets get fewer fleas, and good nutrition makes for healthy pets," says syndicated columnist Dr. Michael Fox, D.V.M.

One supplement that seems to have the additional benefit of warding off fleas is brewer's yeast. Anecdotal evidence finds that the popular nutritional supplement helps deter the pesky pest from dogs and cats.

Fox suggests 1/2 teaspoon of brewer's yeast at mealtime for a cat or small dog, and 1 teaspoon per 30 pounds of body weight for larger dogs.

Rosemary flea dip

fresh rosemary A soothing dip made from fresh rosemary may help rid your pet of pesky fleas. (Photo: Dream79/Shutterstock)

Chemical flea dips can be very caustic. But Care2 suggests a mild version featuring fresh rosemary. Start by steeping two cups of fresh rosemary in boiling water for 30 minutes. Strain the liquid, throw away the remaining leaves, and add up to a gallon of warm water (depending on the size of your pup). Wait until the brew cools, but is still warm enough to be comfortable. Pour it over your dog until he's soaked and let it dry naturally.

Lemon spray repellent

For another flea-repellent spray, try a fresh lemon. Another natural remedy from Care2 advises cutting a lemon into quarters, covering with boiling water, and letting it steep overnight. In the morning, spray the mixture on your pet. Be careful of his eyes, but try to target the spray behind his ears, around the base of his tail, and under his legs.

If your pet won't tolerate spray, PetMD suggests rubbing the juice from a freshly squeezed lemon or orange on your dog or cat's fur. Make sure you use fresh citrus and not citrus essential oil, which can be dangerous to your pet.


The Old Farmer's Almanac recommends placing a few open jars of eucalyptus leaves and stems around your house, especially in rooms where your pet spends a lot of time. The eucalyptus may deter fleas from hanging around.

Mary Jo DiLonardo Mary Jo writes about everything from health to parenting — and anything that helps explain why her dog does what he does.