Flea and tick treatments may contain toxic chemicals that can poison pets and harm people. Even when applied as instructed on the box, these chemicals are not safe, either for pets or for humans. Avoid toxic chemicals by taking care of your pet. Regular combing, bathing and vacuuming can reduce and control fleas. When chemical control is necessary, choose a safer treatment and avoid the most toxic chemicals. All pesticides should be used with caution and in consultation with a veterinarian. Ask your vet about one of the products or treatments marked with one crossed-out paw in our Greenpaws Flea and Tick Products Directory.


Regular combing of a pet can help reduce fleas and also helps monitor the success of a flea control program. Fleas caught in the comb should be drowned in soapy water.


Soapy baths are a great way to control fleas, since any soap will get rid of them. Fleas tend to accumulate in bedding, so wash your pet's bedding in hot water once a week, taking care not to spread any flea eggs and larvae that may be contained in it.


Vacuuming picks up fleas and eggs from carpets, floors and crevices and from under or on furniture. Immediately after vacuuming, throw vacuum bags away to prevent fleas from escaping and reinfesting your home. Severe infestations may require professional carpet cleaning with steam.

Maintaining outdoor areas

Keeping grass and shrubbery clipped short in areas where your pet spends time will increase dryness and sunlight, which will help reduce a flea problem. Nematodes, available at garden supply stores, can be used as a nonchemical, biological aid to help control fleas in these areas.

What about herbal or natural products?

Not all essential oils used to treat pet pests are safe for animals or people. Herbal or natural products containing citrus, cinnamon, clove, d-limonene, geranium, tea tree, lavender, linalool, bay, eucalyptus and rue oils should be used sparingly because they can cause allergic reactions in people — and severe reactions in cats and dogs have been reported. Avoid the use of any flea or tick product containing pennyroyal oil. It can cause seizures, coma and even death in animals. Herbal or natural products that contain cedarwood, lemongrass, peppermint, rosemary and thyme are probably safer. Learn more in our Guide to Safe Pets; look under "Oils."

This article was reprinted with permission from SimpleSteps.org.

How to control fleas without chemicals
Learn how to avoid treatments that may contain toxic chemicals that can harm your pet or yourself.