20 Natural & Home Remedies For Fleas On Dogs & German Shepherds [Updated to 21]

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Home remedies for fleas on dogs are becoming more commonly used as dog and German Shepherd (GSD) owners look for natural flea control and prevention treatments to the man made flea products and medications.

Home remedies for dog fleas also have all sorts of names – all natural flea killer, non-toxic flea treatment, alternative flea treatment, non-chemical flea treatment for dogs, herbal flea treatment, organic flea killer and repellent, holistic flea control and homeopathic flea treatment. 

They all kill fleas naturally, or focus on natural flea prevention, using primarily ingredients that come from nature (come from plants and animals) as opposed to manufactured.

You can read more about the Best Commercial Flea Treatments For German Shepherd Dogs and Puppies here at TheDailyShep.com. We also discuss in that guide the flea life cycle and other important facts in preventing and controlling/killing fleas.

NOTE: Always see an animal professional like a veterinarian before making decisions for any type of treatment for your dog. This is an informational guide only.

 

20 Natural & Home Remedies For Fleas On Dogs & German Shepherds

Some people strongly support chemical based flea treatment, some lean more towards natural flea treatment, and others fall somewhere in between.

 

Natural Dog Flea Treatment vs. Manufactured and Medicated Dog Flea Treatment

The difference between natural flea treatments is that these controls and preventatives are fully or majority nature based (using plant extracts or live animals like ladybugs). Natural flea treatments can be home made or sold commercially.

Medicated dog flea treatments involve using man made chemicals and are only sold commercially. 

Consider these differing views of the two options from two individual veterinarians on Petmd.com 

“I would only recommend natural options for owners who are holistic or for patients who do not respond well to medicated flea treatments … I would never recommend a natural option over a medicated flea treatment except for the previously stated cases.” – Veterinarian Dr Judy Morgan

“I recommend using natural flea products instead of chemicals due to the many detrimental side effects that can occur when using chemical products” – Veterinarian Katie Gryzb 

 

Assessing Natural vs. Medicated Dog Flea Treatment

What must be considered with any health based treatment for humans or animals (natural or commercial) is that there is always a risk – whether that be the risk it doesn’t work, or the risk of side effects.

These risks are up to the decision maker (the dog owner) to assess, weighing these risks up against the most realistic best case outcome – an assessment that is ALWAYS best made with the help of a qualified vet.

One way you can assess the safest and best flea treatment for dogs and look at natural vs. medicated ingredients is:

  1. Look at the individual ingredients and look for their effects of dogs – for example, a quick search for ‘effect of citrus juice on dogs’ reveals the juice is ok for dogs in small amounts, but the peel, pith and seeds can be toxic to the digestive system
  2. Look for evidence of active ingredients that are scientifically proven to prevent or control (kill) fleas.
  3. Write down a list of the risks, dangers and costs vs. how effective the treatment appears
  4. Speak to your vet for approval. Once approved, discontinue use if your dog or German Shepherd shows signs of irritation or sensitivity. Read about signs of harmful flea treatment.

 

The following list of 21 natural and home remedies for fleas on dogs and German Shepherds are options you may choose to explore:

 

1. Essential Oils Natural Flea Collar

Essential oils diluted with water can be applied to the inside of a dog collar, making them among the best natural flea prevention for dogs.

What You Will Need:

  • Essential oil – your pick…Lavender, Lemongrass, cedarwood, peppermint etc.
  • Standard Dog Collar
  • Bandana or light fabric (optional)

What To Do:

  • Dilute the essential oil with water (dilution instruction below), and rub evenly on your dog’s collar.
  • For a less permanent collar, buy a bandana, or get a light piece of fabric you can tie loosely around your dog’s neck. Apply the essential oil (diluted) to the fabric evenly and tie around your German Shepherd’s neck

Why This Might Work:

Essential oils are like citrus juices and other acid based juices – they don’t kill fleas, but they are a natural flea preventative as fleas dislike living in these acidic conditions.

Other Notes: 

  • Essential oils need to be dilluted in order to use on your pet (to prevent skin irritation and respiratory distress) – it’s suggested 8-10 drops of oil for every two tablespoons of water
  • Lemongrass, cedarwood, peppermint, rosemary and thyme are usually safe and effective oils, along with lavender and some other oils like eucalyptus etc.
  • Tea tree oil can be toxic to dogs and cats – but, check with your vet.
  • Essential oils smell great!

Where To Buy:

1. Click here to see Essential Oils by NOW Foods on Amazon

 

2. Flea Trap With Candles and Dish Washing Liquid

Flea traps are a great form of homeopathic flea treatment and control for trapping and killing fleas in the indoor environment.

What You Will Need: 

  • Dish Washing Liquid
  • Large Concave Plate or A Bowl
  • Small enclosed candles (candles safe for inside use which encloses the flame)
  • Warm Water

What To Do: 

  • Fill the plate or bowl with warm water and some dish washing liquid
  • Wait until it is dark inside your house, place the plate or bowl in the middle of the room, and place a lit candle next to it
  • If it works,  repeat for multiple nights in the rooms with flea infestations

Why This Might Work:

Cat fleas are more attracted to light, whilst dog fleas prefer carbon dioxide. Candles produce both, so the idea is that the fleas jump at the light and get stuck in the water/dishwashing liquid solution. The idea is to kill fleas in house naturally.

You can dispose of the trapped/killed fleas in the morning.

Other Notes:

  • Be careful of leaving fires burning at night in the house if you are going to sleep or leaving them unattended
  • Isolate kids or pets from the rooms you are using these traps in whilst the trap is in use

 

3. Herbal Flea Spray

Herbal Flea Sprays are for both natural flea control and natural flea prevention. They are sprayed on the indoor and outdoor environment, not on the dog directly.

What You Will Need:

Per RapidHomeRemedies.com

  • Vinegar – 1 gallon (a little less than 4 liters)
  • Water – ½ gallon (a little less than 2 liters)
  • Lemon juice – 16 oz. (a little less than 500 ml)
  • Witch hazel – 8 oz. (a little less than 250 ml)
  • Home and Garden Sprayer – 1 (this sprayer should be able to hold at least 6-7 liters at a time)

What To Do:

  • Wash all items in the flea affected indoor and outdoor areas
  • Vacuum all items in the indoor areas 
  • Mix the vinegar, water, lemon juice and witch hazel, and fill the sprayer bottle with the liquid
  • Spray your carpets, furniture, dog beds, blankets, curtains, and all other cracks and crevices.
  • Spray every day for a week, and monitor the flea infestation from there

Why This Might Work:

Vinegar and citrus juices like lemon juice might not kill fleas, but they hate the smell and taste of them – creating a bad environment for fleas to live, breed and develop.

Furthermore, vacuuming has been shown to remove up to 50% of flea eggs, whilst washing kills fleas and flea larvae.

Herbal Flea Sprays are a form of herbal flea treatment for dogs and German Shepherds.

Other Notes: 

  • This spray is generally safe to use around children and other pets, notwithstanding allergies

Where To Buy:

1. Click here to see the Best Witch Hazel by Thayers on Amazon

 

4. Salt Remedy

Salt has been used outdoors as a homemade flea control and preventative. Some sources say it works, while other say it doesn’t.

What You Will Need:

  • Table salt with fresh water, or natural salt water
  • Spray bottle

What To Do:

  • Mix the fresh water with the table salt and shake well. Or, beach salt water is said to work better.
  • Spray the outside affected flea areas with the spray

Why This Might Work:

Saltwater is said to remove the moisture from both the area and the flea, killing the flea in the process.

Other Notes: 

  • It is not recommended to use salt water inside due to staining and the damage it can cause to carpets and furniture

 

5. Boric Acid Or Borate Powder Remedy

Boric Acid and Borate Powders are mineral salt based, and have a similar effect on fleas as the above salt remedy. If homemade, you should stick to outside treatment, while commercial Borax flea powders can also be used on carpets.

What You Will Need:

  • Boric Acid
  • A Shaker, or plastic bottle with fine holes in the top (make sure to label this as ‘Boric Acid’)

What To Do:

  • Put the Boric Acid in the shaker, and apply in this layer to outside flea infested areas. Clean up after use.
  • If using commercial Borate powder flea killer, follow instructions of use
  • Wait 1-2 days and re-assess

Why This Might Work:

Similar to salt, some sources say the natural Boric acid salt compound dries out and kills fleas, making it a natural flea powder.

Other Notes: 

  • Make sure to keep the shaker safe when not in use
  • Boric acid is low in toxicity for humans and animals, but it still is not recommended to be ingested or to come in direct contact with

Where To Buy:

Make your own, or…

1. Click here to see the Best Borate Flea Powder by FleaBusters on Amazon

 

6. Diatomaceous Earth

Yes Diatomaceous is a big word. But what is it? Diatoms are the remains of algae, and their cell walls are made of silica ( a component of glass). The hard exoskeleton of fleas is cut by these sharp cell walls, and the fleas and their larvae are killed.

Diatomaceous Earth (DE) comes in powder form – also making it a natural flea powder for dogs.

What You Will Need:

  • Diatomaceous Earth Powder

What To Do:

  • Follow the instructions of the DE product you buy
  • Usually, DE is sprinkled inside your house, or outside, in a fine powder layer to the areas you want to treat.
  • Leave for 12-48 hours (fleas usually start dying in 4-6 hours), vacuum or sweep up the powder, and dispose of the contents of the vacuum bag.

Why This Might Work:

As mentioned above, DE pierces the hard outer shell of fleas, dries them out, and kills them. They can one of the most effective and best home remedies for getting rid of fleas in the environment.

Other Notes: 

  • Only ever use FOOD GRADE Diatomaceous Earth
  • To be on the safe side, make sure your German Shepherd or dog doesn’t ingest or come into heavy contact with DE. Some DE products are safe in both these aspects, but it depends on what you buy.

Where To Buy:

1. Click here to see Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth by DiatomaceousEarth on Amazon

 

7. Pennyroyal

Pennroyal is a very effective natural flea and insect repellent that belongs to the mint plant family. However, there are safer alternative and holistic flea preventatives for dogs.

What You Will Need:

  • Pennroyal seeds
  • Plennroyal leaves

What To Do:

  • Pennroyal Plants – Growing pennroyal plants may be enough to repel fleas in these areas of your garden
  • Pennroyal Bag – Take some pennroyal leaves, and crush them up into a paste/juice – the paste should be oily and have a distinct smell. Place the paste/juice inside a breathable fabric bag, and place the bag inside or outside in the flea affected area. 
  • Pennroyal Oil If diluted properly, pennroyal oil can be applied to the dog’s collar, but it is not recommended by most due to pennroyal’s potential toxicity.

Why This Might Work:

Fleas dislike the odor of Pennroyal, and various chemicals found in the plant including pulegone have a toxic effect if ingested or upon coming into contact with the skin.

Other Notes: 

  • Pennroyal can be extremely toxic for humans and animals if ingested, or it touches the body. 

 

8. Rosemary Remedy

The Rosemary herb can be used as either a rinse/bath, powder or oil as a non toxic flea treatment.

What You Will Need:

  • Rosemary herb leaves (buy from your local herb shop fresh, or grow your own)
  • Water
  • Other herbs – rue, wormwood, fennel, and peppermint herbs (buy fresh from supermarket)

What To Do:

  • Rinse/Bath – Add two cups of rosemary herbs/leaves for every 32 ounces, or every 1 litre of water. Boil the water for 30 minutes, remove it from the boil, and let it come back to room temperature. Give your dog a regular bath with flea shampoo if required, and rinse him or her completely. Rinse your dog or German Shepherd with the Rosemary infused water thoroughly and let them dry naturally – don’t rinse it out.
  • PowderGrind up equal parts rosemary, rue, wormwood, fennel, and peppermint herbs until you have a fine powder. Either sprinkle the powder lightly into your German Shepherd or dog’s fur, or sprinkle on your carpets.
  • Oil – As mentioned elsewhere in this article – rosemary oil can be applied as an essential oil to your German Shepherd’s collar or some fabric you tie loosely around its neck.

Why This Might Work:

Rosemary has properties which can make it a natural flea preventative – but, should only be used on mild cases of fleas and other treatments should also be used in conjunction.

Other Notes: 

  • Don’t get the oil in your dog’s eyes or ears

 

9. Home Made Flea Spray

Home made flea sprays are essentially the same concept as the herbal flea spray we listed above, except this one has different ingredients. This home made spray is for use on the inside environment – floors, cracks, carpets, furniture (although test is beforehand on a small spot). 

What You Will Need:

Per RapidHomeRemedies.com

  • Lemons (thinly sliced) – 6 lemons
  • A handful of chopped rosemary leaves
  • Boiling water- 34 ounces, or 1 litre
  • Geranium Essential Oil – 3-4 drops
  • Spray bottle

What To Do:

  • Put some water in a heatable bowl, apply heat, and add the lemons, rosemary and geranium oil – boil for 20-30 minutes
  • Take the bowl off the boil and let the liquid come to room temperature whilst covered with a cloth
  • Strain the liquid and pour into a spray bottle
  • Spray evenly to indoor environment

Why This Might Work:

Geranium, citrus and rosemary all have natural properties which act as a natural flea repellent, and make the environment uncomfortable for fleas to live in.

Other Notes: 

  • Keep this bottle out of reach of your German SHepherd and children, and other family members.

 

10. Citronella Spray

Citronella is another natural flea deterrent, used for low to medium sized flea problems and as a preventative.

What You Will Need:

  • Citronella oil
  • Water
  • Spray Bottle

What To Do:

  • Dilute the water with citronella oil, with 20 drops of citronella for every 1 gallon of water, or 3.7 litres.
  • Spray the flea infested indoor areas – you can even mop your floors with this solution.
  • If you spray your German Shepherd’s fur with this solution, cover their eyes, keep the spray volume light, and only leave on for a few hours before giving your GSD a full rinse.

Why This Might Work:

Citronella comes from two different grass varieties, and is classed as a low risk pesticide – it has insect killing abilities, and if it doesn’t kill the fleas, it will make the environment unpleasant for them.

Other Notes: 

Where To Buy:

1. Click here to see Citronella Oil by Now Foods on Amazon

 

11. Horse/Hedge Apples, Osage Oranges or Monkey Balls

Most commonly called Hedge Apples, Osage Oranges or Monkey balls for their strange appearance. They are a natural flea repellant that is related to the mulberry tree.

What You Will Need:

  • As many Monkey Balls as you require (ask at your local gardening or fresh fruit store where you can get some)
  • Knife for cutting (optional)

What To Do:

  • Take the whole Monkey Ball, or cut them into halves – which ever you prefer, and place them in the rooms around your house, or areas outside that are flea affected.
  • Do this as often as you are able to – the balls usually lasts 2-3 months until they dry out, at which point they can sometimes still be effective

Why This Might Work:

Osage Oranges naturally have a mild level of repellant and insecticide for a wide range of insects, making them an all natural flea and tick repellent for dogs and German Shepherds.

Other Notes: 

  • Don’t eat Monkey Balls, or let your dog or children eat them.

 

12. Orange or Lemon Citrus Juice Baths

Whether you are looking for a natural flea preventative for dogs, or at home flea remedies and repellents, a citrus juice bath may be an option.

What You Will Need:

  • Orange or lemon juice
  • Water

What To Do:

  • Add a cup of lemon or orange juice to a bucket of water and use it to bathe your dog – getting it throughout the fur

Why This Might Work:

As mentioned already in this article, citrus juice doesn’t kill fleas, but creates a bad tasting and smelling environment for them. It is a home made repellent either before or after your German Shepherd gets fleas.

Other Notes: 

  • In high amounts, citrus juice is toxic to dogs if swallowed. 

 

13. A Water Bath

Washing your German Shepherd with standard water won’t kill fleas – fleas can survive up to 7 days in water, and up to 24 hours if submerged.

If your dog has fleas, what a water bath will do is remove some of the fleas from your dog’s coat – trapping them in the water molecules when they come off the fur. 

It is the easiest, cheapest and best way to get rid of fleas on dogs naturally, although only partially.

What You Will Need:

  • Water

What To Do:

  • Bathe your dog with water 

Why This Might Work:

  • If you can give your dog a thorough scrub with water, you will reduce the number of fleas on your German Shepherd directly

Other Notes: 

  • Water is a natural remedy to partially reduce fleas on your dog, but other holistic flea treatments will have to be used in conjunction.

 

14. Clean Inside Your House

Natural solutions for fleas don’t come any more simple than cleaning your internal environment where fleas and flea eggs can be found. Keeping the inside of your house clean is as important as keeping your external environment clean.

What You Will Need:

  • Vacuum
  • Washing Machine

What To Do:

  • Wash all fibrous materials and items in your house – the dog bed, blankets, rugs, curtains (if washable), collars etc.
  • Vacuum in and under all furniture, chairs, along floor cracks, around any timber/wood (fleas and flea eggs/larvae like to hide in dark hidden places)

Why This Might Work:

Firstly, washing and water kills adult fleas and flea eggs. Secondly, as we mentioned above, vacuum is noted to remove up to 50% of flea eggs from the internal environment.

Other Notes: 

 

15. Nematodes or Ladybugs

Nematodes are natural predators of fleas along with lady bugs. They are small worms that feed on flea eggs and larvae.

What You Will Need:

  • Nematodes (ask around at local gardening shops, or buy online)
  • Ladybugs (ask gardening shops)

What To Do:

  • Buy beneficial nematodes, or lady bugs, or both
  • Let them loose in your garden (follow the instruction and care directions of the place you buy them from)

Why This Might Work:

Nematodes are a natural outdoor predator of fleas, flea eggs, larvae and pupae. And, ladybugs can eat up to 50 insects a day, including fleas. Enough said.

Other Notes: 

  • Make sure you get ‘beneficial’ nematodes, and not the harmful type. ‘Steinernema carpocapsae‘ is one such variety that is bred for hunting fleas.

Where To Buy:

1. Click here to buy Nematodes online from GrowOrganic.com

 

16. Keep Outside Environment Clean

If you read our Guide to The Best Commercial German Shepherd Flea Treatment for Dogs and Puppies, you would have seen that effective flea treatment involves – killing fleas on your pet, prevention, cleaning the inside environment and cleaning the outside environment.

What You Will Need:

  • Garden Maintenance Equipment – Broom, Lawnmower etc.

What To Do:

  • Keep grass short, and trim overgrown plant growth
  • Clean and wash the outside dog bed/kennel
  • Clean up and dispose of organic material like leaf piles, grass clippings, dead plant matter, hay bales out of your yard
  • Minimise wild mammals entering your yard

Why This Might Work:

Fleas like environments that are warm, not in direct sunlight, damp/moist and are also found in organic matter like leaves, grass and other plant matter.

By keeping the outside environment clean, you disrupt the fleas’ living and breeding environment.

Other Notes: 

  • Be wary of alternating use of a dog bed inside and outside your house – for example, bringing a dog bed inside can introduce fleas to the inside environment. Try to allow your dog to sleep in one or the other.

 

17. Add Apple Cider Vinegar to Drinking Water, or Make A Spray

Apple cider vinegar can be used in baths, sprays and in your German Shepherd’s drinking water as a natural flea preventative.

What You Will Need:

  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Water
  • Spray Bottle

What To Do:

  1. For Drinking Water – Add one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar for every 32 liquid ounces, or every litre, to your dog’s pure drinking water (their water bowl). 
  2. For Spray – Add equal amounts apple cider vinegar and water together and fill a spray bottle. Spray your dog, and you can spray the inside of the house too (although be careful there is no staining or damaging of the materials – test in a small spot first).
  3. For Bathing – Dilute the apple cider vinegar in the bathing water and wash your dog as you would normally.

Why This Might Work:

Per Petmd.com:

“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”

Other Notes: 

  • Make sure you don’t get apple cider vinegar in your dog’s eyes or ears

Where To Buy:

1. Click here to see Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar by Bragg on Amazon

 

18. Flea Comb with Lemon Juice

A slight variation of the Lemon citrus bath. Lemon juice gets spread throughout your GSD’s fur via the flea comb and acts as a natural flea repellant.

What You Will Need:

  • A Flea comb
  • Lemon Juice

What To Do:

  • Dip your flea comb in lemon juice and brush your GSD’s coat all over.
  • Rinse your flea brush in warm water afterwards to prevent corrosion

Why This Might Work:

Fleas dislike the acidic environment created by citrus juice. It may reduce the number of fleas on your dog directly.

Other Notes: 

  • Try not to let your dog ingest high amounts of lemon juice, or get it in its eyes.

Where To Buy:

1. Click here to see Flea Comb by Safari on Amazon

 

19. Flea Bag

A flea bag is filled with natural flea repellant, placed near your dog’s bed, and used as natural flea prevention.

What You Will Need:

Per Everydayroots.com – 

  • Two 6 inch squares of breathable fabric (such as muslin), or buy your own breathable fabric bag from a local shop
  • A handful of cedar chips
  • 1-2 teaspoons of dried lavender buds
  • The peel of 1 lemon

What To Do:

  • Sew your own sachet together, or buy a small fabric bag from a local shop
  • Fill the bag 75% or two thirds full with a handful of cedar shavings/chips, 1-2 teaspoons of dried lavender, and the lemon peel. Seal the bag with a small string at the top.
  • Place the bag near or under your dog’s bedding
  • Change the bag every month

Why This Might Work:

Lavender and cedarwood both have flea repellant properties.

Other Notes: 

  • Make sure your dog won’t try to rip open the bag and eat the contents, and don’t let your dog sleep directly on the bag.

Where To Buy:

1. Click here to see Cedar Shavings by Kaytee on Amazon

2. Click here to see Dried Lavender Buds by Feel Good Organics on Amazon

 

20. Baking Soda Powder Remedy

Baking Soda works by having the same effects as salt – it reportedly dries out the fleas and kills them.

What You Will Need:

  • Baking soda
  • Shaker bottle (optional)

What To Do:

  • Shake an even layer of baking soda over the carpets and floors in rooms where fleas are living and leave for 6-12 hours
  • Come back and vacuum up the baking soda and clean the area. Dispose of the vacuum bag content immediately.
  • Repeat this process until you notice fleas decreasing.

Why This Might Work:

Baking Soda works by having the same effect as salt – it reportedly dries out and dehydrates the fleas and kills them.

Other Notes: 

  • Don’t let your dog eat the baking soda, or get it on it’s skin or in it’s eyes.

 

21. Coconut Oil For Fleas

Coconut oil and fleas have been used for a while now for organic flea treatment, and is among the best natural flea prevention for dogs when spread among the dog’s fur.

What You Will Need:

  • Coconut Oil (you can buy from your local supermarket)
  • Flea Brush

What To Do:

  • Dip your flea brush in coconut oil, and brush your GSD’s coat with it evenly
  • Wash the flea brush/comb with warm water afterwards

Why This Might Work:

Coconut oil contains lauric acid, which has properties that repels both fleas and ticks.

Other Notes: 

 

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2 Comments

  1. The Daily Shep on

    Not a problem Jeanne! Thank you for reading!

    We agree with any product or method that treats the fleas, and doesn’t compromise the health of the dog.

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