We are reader supported, we earn a small commission when you buy something using our retail links.

Scratching the Surface – Revealing Effective Home Remedies for Fleas on Dogs

At A Glance

Ticks and fleas are pesky, itchy pests that no pet or pet parent wants to deal with. Sometimes, it feels like there’s no winning with these. However, there are several tried and tested home remedies that can get rid of fleas and save your pet from itching and irritation:

  • Natural flea repellents like coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, lemon or lime, lavender oil, and peppermint oil can be used topically to kill existing fleas.
  • Diatomaceous earth, baking soda, and salt are also safe to use around the house to kill fleas on bedding, furniture, and outdoors.

Last Updated on: Aug 17, 2023

Fleas, besides making life uncomfortable, can pose health troubles if left unaddressed. These pets multiply quickly and even infest bedding and upholstery and affect other pets, so getting rid of them is absolutely necessary.

Your veterinarian can treat your dog with various medications, like sprays and flea collars. However, using home remedies in tandem with these treatments can improve the efficacy.

Here is what you need to know about flea and tick infestations in pets:

custom oil-painted dog portraits by Poshtraits

What Are the Warning Signs That My Dog Has Fleas?

Fleas can be tough to spot, especially if your pet is furry. Thankfully, these tell-tale signs are much easier to diagnose a flea or tick infestation.

The following symptoms indicate a flea infestation in your pet:

  • Itching and scratching around the head, neck, and shoulders
  • Flea bites that may appear like tiny red spots on the skin
  • Inflamed, swollen areas on the skin
  • Scabbing and hair loss in certain areas
  • General restlessness in your dog

Another way to tell if your dog has fleas is by using a flea comb to look for flea droppings, also called flea dirt. These are roughly the size and consistency of black pepper powder and may be found on your dog’s skin.

Pro Tip: Use a wet paper towel or tissue and rub the dropping on it. If the dirt turns red once rubbed, it is indeed flea dirt. The dropping turn red due to the blood the fleas have digested from your pet.

Effective Home Remedies To Get Rid of Fleas

home remedies for fleas on dogs without bathing - effective home remedies to get rid of fleas

Here are some natural home remedies to remove fleas on dogs and soft surfaces like bedding and carpets:

Coconut Oil

One of the best natural home remedies for fleas on dogs is coconut oil. Besides being extremely moisturizing for your dog’s skin, coconut oil also helps soothe itching from flea bites, especially for dogs with sensitive skin. The oil also contains lauric acid, which kills fleas by suffocating them without harming your dog.

I like to slather coconut oil liberally onto Dex’s coat and skin and massage the oil thoroughly onto all areas of his body. I recommend paying special attention to areas like under the arms, behind the ears, and under the muzzle, as fleas and ticks usually like to hide in these areas.

But beware, this method should be used outdoors or in a confined space, like your bathroom, to avoid fleas from jumping and spreading to other areas in your home. Once you apply the oil, let it rest for 10 minutes and give your dog a bath with anti-tick and flea shampoo to remove the pests left behind.

Apple Cider Vinegar

This pungent superfood is one of the most effective home remedies for fleas and ticks on pets. This natural flea repellent can be used in more ways than one. It can be used as:

A Supplement

Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) can be added to your pet’s water bowl to deter fleas naturally. Adding a tablespoon to a large water bowl with approximately four cups of water can help balance pH levels in the body and naturally kill fleas. This method also prevents new fleas from making your pet’s coat their home.

However, before administering this remedy, consult a vet regarding the right amount for your dog. Pay special attention if your dog has gastrointestinal issues, like hyperacidity.

A Topical Repellent

Mixing ACV with equal parts water makes an effective topical spray. You can use this mixture on your dog’s coat and upholstery. However, the ratio might change depending on your dog’s size.

Ensure you carefully spray the mixture and avoid your dog’s face and eyes. Also, refrain from doing this if any open wounds or lesions, as it might irritate the wounds.

As Dr. Mike Hutchinson, a veterinarian, correctly points out, “An honest attempt by some well-meaning pet owners sometimes ends up causing some untoward side effects in their pets.” So, always exercise caution when applying the mixture or offering the dog ACV to drink. Consulting a vet before using any method is paramount.

Essential Oils

Essential oils may also be used to repel fleas but proceed cautiously. Not all essential oils are pet-friendly. Some can be toxic to dogs and must be avoided at all costs. Toxic essential oils include tea tree, pine, and wintergreen. If your dog accidentally ingests these oils, you should make it throw up after consulting a vet.

Instead, use peppermint and lavender essential oils to prevent pests from growing and effectively kill larvae and even adult fleas.

To use essential oils as an at-home remedy for fleas on dogs, you can put one drop of the oil at the back of your dog’s neck. You can also dilute the oil with water or any carrier oil, such as coconut or olive oil, and use a spray bottle to apply it on your dog’s coat. Ensure none of the mixture is sprayed on your dog’s face, though.

Any Pet Soap or Shampoo That Lathers

home remedies for killing fleas on dogs - any pet soap or shampoo that lathers

Anti-tick and flea pet shampoos effectively kill existing fleas and are always beneficial to use in between grooming sessions. Another popular home remedy for fleas on dogs and cats is Dawn soap. It may sound silly, but many animal rescuers swear by it and use it because it’s cheap and fairly accessible.

That said, it’s always advisable to use natural ingredients or products that contain organic and pet-safe ingredients for regular use. Any soap or shampoo that lathers well will help remove adult fleas.

Leave the product on your dog’s coat for around ten minutes once it has sufficiently lathered before rinsing. Note that soaps and shampoos kill existing adult fleas, not the larvae, so this can’t be used as a sole flea prevention method.

“A bath with lukewarm water and mild soap might be your best bet if the flea infestation is minor.” – Dr. Sara Ochoa, DVM.


Citrus is a potent agent to help flea prevention in pets. Mix the juice of a citrus plant, like lemon or lime, with warm water and use it through a spray bottle.

You can spray the mixture on your dog’s coat and around your home. Another trick is to add a little citrus juice to your pet’s shampoo. However, dogs dislike citrus scents, so keep the solution away from their eyes and nose.

If your dog snorts or sneezes while being sprayed down, it might be a sign that the scent is too strong for them and irritates their mucous membranes.

Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous Earth is a powdery substance that sucks the moisture out of fleas, damaging their exoskeletons and effectively killing them. However, it is only used on surfaces, not on your dog.

To get rid of fleas, you can sprinkle food-grade Diatomaceous Earth around the home, including soft surfaces like your pet’s bedding, couch cushions, carpets, and other surfaces. You can also sprinkle it on furniture and baseboards – anywhere you think the pests may be hiding.

Leave it on the surface for at least 12 hours. When cleaning up, simply use a vacuum to clear out the powder, dead ticks, and fleas.

Baking Soda and Salt

Mixing baking soda and salt creates a potent mixture that can dehydrate fleas and their eggs. Mix the two ingredients equally and sprinkle generously around the home and yard. Leave for at least 24 hours, then vacuum thoroughly or hose down (if outdoors) to clean.

When Should Your Dog See The Vet

home remedies for getting rid of fleas on dogs - when should your dog see the vet

Severe flea infestations may cause serious health concerns, such as inflammation, anemia, dermatitis, and other infections. If you notice that your dog is acting lethargic, or has no appetite, immediately take it to the veterinarian for a checkup.

The vet may prescribe antibiotics in case of infections, medicated shampoos, and ointments if there are lesions on the skin.

Frequently Asked Questions


What Kills Fleas Immediately on Dogs?

Pet shampoos can instantly kill existing fleas, while sprays with essential oils can kill larvae hiding in your dog’s coat. As a rule of thumb, leave anti-flea shampoos on the coat for at least 10 minutes before rinsing it.

As for essential oil sprays, use pet-safe oils like lavender and peppermint and dilute with water or carrier oil.

Does Coconut Oil Kill Fleas?

Yes, coconut oil is great at killing fleas, and it’s safe. The oil suffocates the fleas and kills adults and larvae. Coconut oil contains lauric acid, which is beneficial to dogs but deadly to fleas.

However, when applying coconut oil to a dog’s coat, ensure you do it outdoors, as fleas may jump out of the coat.

How Do You Make Homemade Dog Flea Spray?

You can add a couple of natural ingredients to water to create an effective flea-repellent mixture. For example, you can use lavender or peppermint essential oils; citrus juices like orange, lemon, and lime; or apple cider vinegar. Add these to a spray bottle for easy application.

Also, use the correct proportions to avoid irritating your dog’s skin or mucous membranes.

Are There Home Remedies for Sand Fleas on Dogs?

Sand fleas are crustaceans that may latch onto your dog after visiting the beach or any sandy place. Your dog may also have sand fleas if you live in a coastal area where you have regular access to the sand.

Luckily, most of the home remedies that work on regular fleas also work well on sand fleas.

Are There Home Remedies for Fleas on Dogs Without Bathing?

It’s always best to bathe your dog with a pet-safe shampoo, especially during a suspected flea infestation. However, suppose the suspected infestation is discovered when you absolutely can’t bathe your dog (such as after surgery, post-vaccination, or during some type of medication).

In that case, you can use natural sprays that contain lavender or peppermint essential oils and citrus diluted in water.



Meet Paul, a devoted dog dad to the delightful French Bulldog, Cofi. With a flair for humor and a deep understanding of Frenchie quirks, Paul brings a lighthearted touch to his writings. His relatable stories and practical insights are a blend of laughter and valuable advice and resonate with fellow dog owners.

Through his words, Paul aims to celebrate the joys and challenges of being a dedicated pet parent, reminding you that life is simply better with a four-legged, snorting sidekick by your side.