What Essential Oils Kill Fleas? - Public Goods

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What Essential Oils Kill Fleas?

There’s been a tremendous amount of positive buzz about essential oils over the last few years.

essential oil dropper and bottle

Almost all of the articles, videos and blog posts extolling the virtues of essential oils have centered on aromatherapy — and there’s nothing wrong with that. A number of these oils have been shown to provide substantial health benefits, and improve general well-being, when used in a diffuser or applied topically on the skin.

What’s lost in the shuffle, however, are the many other ways that essential oils can be used, from deodorizing the refrigerator to flea prevention.

You read that correctly. Many essential oils, when used properly, are natural flea repellents.

But the key word in that last sentence is “properly.” Here’s how to safely use essential oils to get rid of fleas and keep them off your dog’s coat and skin.

Safety First

Before we go any further, there are a few important facts about essential oils you need to know.

  • Pure essential oils are natural, organic products — but that doesn’t mean they’re safe in every circumstance. Because they are highly concentrated, the oils must be blended with a high-quality carrier oil like olive oil or coconut oil (which is also an effective antifungal) or heavily diluted before topical use or application to surfaces around the home or yard. Water and apple cider vinegar are the best choices for dilution.
  • Cats and dogs don’t react in the same way to essential oils. Most of these oils should never be applied directly on cats or small dogs, and others like eucalyptus and pennyroyal oils are toxic to all dogs. In fact, even being exposed to most essential oils will – if nothing else – greatly annoy cats; their sense of smell is 14 times more sensitive than humans’.
  • Finally, essential oils shouldn’t be ingested by pets or humans, except as directed by a doctor. Be sure to keep the oils safely stored, away from your furry friends.

Now, back to our originally scheduled flea control programming.

Why Use Essential Oils Instead of Commercial Flea Treatments?

When Fluffy comes home with flea bites, or if a sudden flea infestation upends the house, a dog owner’s first reaction is to go for veterinarian-recommended treatments: oral flea treatments, flea combs, flea shampoos, flea sprays, and of course, flea collars.

All of those products usually work, but many carry health costs for your dog or family.

Some pets develop adverse reactions to oral flea medications, particularly after a long course of treatment. Skin irritation, vomiting and more serious problems are always a risk when giving a dog these medications.

Topically-applied treatments, and the substances on flea collars, can also be inadvertently spread or carried around the house, where they may unknowingly be ingested by pets or kids. Needless to say, not all of these substances are safe; some contain harsh chemicals and may even be toxic.

And there are often diminishing returns from commercial flea repellents and treatments as fleas develop immunity.

Proper use of the right essential oils, though, eliminates those risks. Even better, the oils don’t just repel fleas. They also help ease the itching and scratching that dogs suffer after being bitten, and have antiseptic properties that help bites and self-inflected scratches to heal.

Essential oils are simply a better choice, for your pet and for your family – in the same way that finding an effective natural remedy for any insect problem is always preferable to the use of hazardous pesticides.

The Best Essential Oils to Kill and Repel Fleas

Whether you’re using essential oils for aromatherapy, as a DIY home remedy, or for repelling fleas, it’s important to choose the right essential oil for the right purpose.

More specifically, not all oils that will repel fleas will kill them — and vice versa.

Here’s your go-to cheat sheet on the most effective oils and how to use them. Most are available on Amazon, but the highest-quality oils are better purchased from reputable suppliers such as Public Goods.

Essential Oils That Kill and Repel Fleas

  • Cedarwood Essential Oil: Heavily-diluted cedarwood oil can be sprayed on a dog’s skin to kill existing fleas and prevent new ones from landing and biting.
  • Cedarwood oil and cedar oil are also the best choices (along with regular vacuuming) for protecting a home. They can be used in a diffuser to protect the interior of a home, or with a garden hose sprayer to rid a yard of fleas.
  • Clove Essential Oil: Clove oil should not be sprayed directly on the skin, but it can be diluted and placed on a dog’s collar or in his bedding, to kill and repel fleas.

Essential Oils That Repel Fleas

  • Lavender Essential Oil: Diluted lavender oil can be applied to a dog’s skin to repel fleas.
  • Lemongrass Essential Oil, Basil Essential Oil, Thyme Essential Oil: Basil, thyme and lemongrass oils can all be diluted and sprayed on a dog’s skin to function as a repellent, but should not be directly applied topically. Peppermint oil can also be used sparingly, but only for large breeds; use it cautiously, because many dogs are extremely sensitive to the scent.
  • Rosemary Essential Oil: Diluted rosemary oil can be added to a dog’s bath to provide long-acting flea-repellent benefits.
  • Rose Geranium Oil: A few drops of rose geranium oil can be applied topically to dogs’ fur to repel fleas.

Two More Suggestions

  1. A few drops of citronella may be added to the spray bottle before spraying your dog with an essential oil, as an extra preventative against fleas and other insect bites. Citronella, thyme and water work particularly well as a tick spray.
  2. Another pet-safe, organic and effective way to keep fleas away from dogs is to dust them with non-toxic, food-grade diatomaceous earth. Adding the substance to their food (one tablespoon per day for large dogs, one teaspoon for smaller ones) for 30 days can also treat and eliminate worms.

Several other essential oils are often recommended for flea control, but you should steer clear of them. Tea tree oil is toxic when pets or humans ingest it, and pennyroyal oil is toxic to both dogs and cats whether it’s ingested or applied to the skin.

Effective Flea Repellent Methods for Dogs

There are several ways you can apply topically-safe essential oils to your dog as a flea repellent.

  • Mix a few drops of the oil with eight ounces of apple cider vinegar or water, shake well, and either lightly spray your dog or spray the surfaces around the home that he regularly contacts.
  • Groom your dog after dipping his brush into the diluted essential oil solution.
  • After a bath, rinse your dog in a solution of apple cider vinegar and 2-3 drops of essential oil.
  • Put a couple of drops of lavender or clove oil onto your dog’s collar.

Always remember, though, that you should only use essential oils that are safe to apply topically, that they are always diluted properly, and that you’re using the highest quality essential oils available — like the ones from Public Goods. Your dog’s worth it.

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Comments (28)

  • Nice article….,for dogger’s flea relief but nary a consonant uddered for a cat. Are we to suppose from that that whatever works on a lowly mutt’s tough hide is suitable for the ‘Queen’s’ silken skin…, HmMpH !! NAY!!! DOUBLE HmMpH!!!

    • ha that’s a good point, Duncan! Before the end of the year, I will try to make time to revise the article and mention cats. As a small token of our appreciation for your feedback, you can use the coupon code, PGBLOGFAM, to save $5 on your next order.

        • Careful, most oils kill cats. Look it up. I use a diffuser but not regularly or my cat gets inflamed eyes. Lavender kill cats. Ditamacius earth works m. Let it sink in ground then bring cat in or gets into lungs. It’s safe to eat and luck off. Good for them but not in lungs.

    • Great question! Yes, it would. Humans can get fleas, too. To be safe, however, remember to dilute essential oils with carrier oils and/or water before spraying yourself.

    • As a small token of our appreciation for commenting on our blog, you can use the coupon code, PGBLOGFAM, to save $5 on your next order.

  • Wow! Who knew – I never would have even thought about using Cedarwood; and, if I HAD thought about it, I’d have gone straight to my favorite Tea Tree oil or Eucalyptus. This is a fantastic article. Thank you so much.

    • Thank you, Jeff! To show how much we appreciate your feedback, here is a coupon code for five dollars off your next order: PGBLOGFAM.

  • I am so thrilled to find you here. This article is a wealth of information and so many things I needed to learn. Over the years there have been so many things that are really not helpful. Thank you ever so much for the wonderful knowledge you have shared. My Dogs thank you and so do I. Sincerely, Judy

  • What a great article,a nice natural treatment.

    One question I have though, you say cedarwood oilshould be Heavily-diluted, do you know the concentration/ratio for this, I want to ensure that I do not over dilute it or not dilute it enough and hurt my dog.

    Many thanks

  • Hello Joseph
    thank you for your reply, it led me to a wealth of article so keep up the good work.



  • Great article thank you. Treated my Dog with your advice and please no that it’s also kept the Ticks at Bay as well thanks again

    • Hi Terry,

      Glad to hear we were able to help! If you need to stock up on essential oils, you can use BLOG15 for $15 off of your first order from us 🌱

  • We have two chihuahuas and when the flea epidemic started it was almost impossible to make it stop. Once they get in the house it’s horrible. We used to give our dogs the expensive pills and I got them from like South Africa or somewhere, to try getting a little cheaper but they were still like a hundred bucks for a couple months so then I needed to be a little more economic so I turn to flea collars and that turned out not to work too well. Both my Chihuahuas have what I believe is collapsed trachea condition. So I took the flea collars off and then had to turn to something else. I dabble in essential oils for my self and family so I wanted to try it for my dog’s fleas. well luckily they don’t have any yet and I’d like to keep it that way so I want to hurry up and make the formula and get them sprayed so we don’t have to go through another epidemic. Thanks for your suggestions. I really wanted to get a blend recipe where it would tell you how many drops of what oils and then how much carrier oil to put in it and what kind of carrier oil. You don’t quite break it down like that but I think I can piece it together by what you have written about so thank you for that. Namaste

    • Hi Karen!

      Thanks so much for your comment. The standard for essential oil dilution is 2%, or about 12 drops of essential oil per ounce. You can do equal parts of each oil that you’d like to create your own blend!

      Feel free to use BLOG15 to get $15 off of your favorite essential oils, on us!🌱🌿

    • The article states Tea Tree oil is NOT recommended to use with pets since its toxic when ingested and animals like to lick

  • Is it best to use an oil defuser then to put the oils right on the dogs? As well as we have Guinea Pigs, what is the best for them?

    • Hi Jennifer!

      If you have guinea pigs we wouldn’t recommend using a diffuser or DIY sprays if they’re in the same room. Guinea pigs’ respiratory systems are much more sensitive than a large animal and it could cause adverse affects. It would most likely be more effective to use properly diluted essential oil directly on your dogs, especially since they spend time outside! Just be sure that your other pets aren’t around when you apply, and that they don’t come into contact with any essential oils you’ve used around your home.

      Thanks so much for your comment! You can use BLOG15 for $15 off of your first order with us if you haven’t gotten the chance to try us out 🙌😊

  • We are wondering if you are ever going to update with how to treat cats. We run a cat rescue and are over-run with cats, which means it is a constant battle with the fleas. We bought lemongrass to plant, along with rosemary and catnip. So far it looks like we are going to have to get rid of the lemongrass. We had one kitten who almost OD’d eating it. So not instead of plants, we are looking to use oils. We currently have 12 cats and 1 dog in residence, all come and go in the house as they please, so the battle is constant.

    • Hi Chris,

      Thanks for your question, we’re happy to help!

      There are very view essential oils that are safe to use around cats, especially in a diffuser. Even in small amounts, essential oils can be highly toxic to them, as they contain phenols and phenolic compounds. Diffusers emit micro-droplets of essential oils that cats can breathe in while grooming or eating, and their olfactory senses are 14x stronger than ours, so we can’t recommend using them at all.

      The only essential oil that may be safe for your cats is Cedarwood oil, but keep in mind that they will dislike the smell. This is also dependent on the manufacturer, and where the oil is sourced from. You can click here for an article we posted about this subject for more information on essential oils and their use around your cats.

      Thanks again for your reply! We’d like to give you a little something to show our appreciation. For $15 off your first order, use BLOG15 at checkout! 🐈🌿

  • My cat and dog are free of fleas for months. I can’t get rid of the fleas in the basement, I have tried flea sprays. I use white plates with dawn and water I still see some fleas in them. Will placing mint plants in the basement help?

    • Hi Joann,

      Hard to say! Mint essential oil is a little bit different than the plant itself– they’re usually steam distilled so they’re extremely concentrated. The concentrated oil attacks their central nervous system, killing them. Mint plants might just cause them to avoid the area, but we aren’t sure if that will kill them. We would definitely recommend sticking to peppermint essential oil if anything at all!

      Thanks for your comment! I’m including code BLOG15, so you can get $15 off of your first order with us as a token of our thanks. 😊🌱

  • I’d like to start using cedarwood oil for my yorkie. When you say to heavily dilute it, what’s the formula or recipe? What is the best source to buy it?

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