Inexpensive Ways To Keep Pets Flea Free

by Reader Contributors

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Flea prevention pet meds can get expensive. Our frugal readers offer up inexpensive ways to keep your pets flea free.

Dear Dollar Stretcher,
I just took my dog in for a spring check up. I nearly fainted when I got the bill for her flea and tick medicine.

Does anyone know of any natural methods to keep fleas, mosquitoes, and ticks from my dog or is medicine the only answer?
Sherry R. in Horton, MI

Inexpensive Flea Prevention and Treatments for Pets

We reached out to our frugal readers for solutions for keeping fleas off of our furry family members. Read on for the many tips they had to share for affordably keeping your pets flea free.

Brewer’s Yeast Prevents Fleas

We used to have a terrible time with fleas and ticks, but we have overcome the problem. The most effective solution we found was two fold. The better quality of dog food our dogs eat, the fewer problems they have with fleas. Also, try brewer’s yeast and garlic tablets. If you live anywhere near a feed store, I would recommend buying from them as their prices will generally be better than a pet store.

Also, fleas do not like herbs such as pennyroyal, lavender, mint, rosemary, fennel, and rue. If you could fit such plants in your yard, especially near where your animals hang out, that is said to sometimes repel fleas.

Also, a mild shampoo with a few drops of eucalyptus or citrus oil, followed up by a pennyroyal rinse (steep leaves in boiling water and let the water cool) can rid your animal of fleas. Soap and water will kill fleas in a few minutes, so you don’t have to buy special flea shampoo. Follow up with regular combings using a flea comb (dip the flea comb in soapy water after each pass of the coat).

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Fleas and Listerine

I’m of the belief that if I won’t use it on myself, I won’t use it on my dog.

I had a flea problem once with my two dogs. I bathed them in the bathtub so that I could fill it with warm water. I used a regular shampoo that I use. After rinsing them very well, I then poured diluted Listerine (1/2 water to 1/2 Listerine) over them, let it sit for a couple of minutes, and then rinsed very well.

Another solution is to rinse with lemon juice and water in equal amounts. Buy the concentrated RealLemon juice. During flea season, do this once a month.

Garlic and Yeast for Fleas

For years, I have been giving my dogs (anywhere from 8-14 dogs) a garlic and brewer’s yeast tablet for mosquitoes. For the fleas, I hose down their pen, which has a pea stone surface, with Dr. Bronner’s Eucalyptus soap one week and bleach the next week.

I also put cedar leaf oil around my home. I adopt Shih Tzus who have been abused or have health problems and some come to me loaded with fleas. Within a week, we are flea free again.

To use the oil, take a three-inch square of brown grocery bag and put a square in every corner of every room in your home. If you have fleas, put three drops of oil on every paper in every room daily. To prevent fleas, do this twice a week. I don’t know if it kills the fleas or drives them out, but the fleas are gone. A four-ounce bottle lasts me two to three years in a seven-room home.

Tips From the Flea Capital of the World

I live in Louisiana, which is the flea capital of the world. I give my dog brewer’s yeast every day and she has stayed flea free for two years. One year when she was taking the chemical flea preventative, I had to have the house treated for fleas and it cost about $150 (to say nothing about the chemicals used). Brewer’s yeast is cheap. You can buy it at a health food store, and you should keep it refrigerated.

Also, if you do get fleas, try putting salt on the carpet, as it makes the flea eggs dry up. Leave it on the carpet over night, vacuum, and repeat once a week.

My vet will match the Internet pet medication prices. The Internet pet pharmacies carry everything at huge savings. I wish I had known about them a long time and many dollars ago.

Brewer’s Yeast Flea Treatment

I mix brewer’s yeast with broth I have left over from cooking. I freeze this in ice cube trays. For the weeks I don’t cook anything with broth, I still have a good mixture for my dogs. I mix it with their dry dog food. They think it’s a great treat!

Also, I never purchase the meds my dogs need from the vet. I ask for a prescription. Call around to various pharmacies for the best price and purchase it there.

Flea Treatments Online

I can really sympathize with you about the high cost of pet meds. My husband and I pay much more for medications and healthcare for our two dogs than we do for ourselves.

Don’t buy your pet’s prescriptions at the vet’s office. Have your vet write a prescription and order medications online from 1-800-PetMeds. The prices are significantly lower than what you would pay at the vet’s office.

After you start ordering online, you generally start receiving coupons so you can save on future purchases. You can also purchase the vaccines online for about a quarter of the price that the vet charges you and administer them yourself. The exception is the rabies vaccine, which has to be given by a qualified vet or your municipality. However, I would check with your municipality to find out if they offer a yearly clinic where they administer free or discounted rabies vaccines when you renew your dog’s license.

Most importantly, don’t sacrifice your pet’s health by skipping meds due to the cost.

Fleas Treated With Avon

I believe that Skin-So-Soft from Avon deters pests. Just rub it in around the dog’s ears, neck, mid-back, and top of tail.

Scented Oil for Dog’s Fleas

I have a suggestion, which works fairly well. Use lavender oil on the pet’s fur. I put the oil on my palms and rub it onto the surface of the fur and then gently brush it through the fur to the skin level. Apply where fleas are worst, which seems to be the tail area and the ears. You can also put the lavender oil on the pet’s collar.

As far as I know, lavender oil is non-toxic.

Pennyroyal and Cedar

My husband and I live out in the country and here are our flea control tips.

Plant pennyroyal around your yard. Just here and there where the dogs might lie in it sometimes.

Put cedar shavings in their dog house, but these need to be changed once or twice a year. We usually put fresh out just before and after the winter. Allow the pets to roll in dust (they know what they’re doing.) We have two dogs and five cats (among our other 25 pets) and have very little problem with fleas (in Missouri!).

Change to Natural Diet

My first suggestion is to feed your animals a healthy all natural diet. I recommend feeding them only raw food. This actually costs far less than feeding premium kibble. It will keep them out of the vet, thus saving you money. (See Affordable Homemade Dog Food Recipes and Tips.)

The second thing is add apple cider vinegar to the animals food and water. This makes the skin smell and taste acidic to the parasite and will repel them. It repels fleas, ticks and flies.

Keeping your dog (or cat) internally healthy by feeding them a healthy diet will naturally repel internal and external parasites as these things do not attack healthy individuals. Parasites attack ill and unhealthy animals. Do NOT use apple cider “flavored” vinegar as it will not do the same thing. Use the real thing even though it is slightly more expensive.

There are also recipes to make your own ACV. For my 75lb dogs I add about 2-3 tablespoons to their food and for my 10 lb Chihuahua I use just a few shakes, maybe adds up to a teaspoon. Add it to the water while they are getting used to the smell and taste and if you continue to feed kibble.

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Natural Repellents and Dips

Use a mixture of Avon Skin-So-Soft, vinegar, and eucalyptus oil as a bug repellent for humans and animals.

Natural Flea and Tick Dip:
2 cups, packed, of fresh rosemary and/or peppermint
1 quart boiling water
4 quarts warm water

Pour the just boiled water over the fresh herbs and let steep, covered, for 30 minutes. Strain and add the liquid to the 4 quarts of warm water and then saturate the animal. Let it air dry.

Flea Spray
Spray her with an herbal mixture of:
Witch hazel

Prepare an infusion using one tea bag of each herb, and when it’s cold, mix it with witch hazel.

Densely grow fennel and basil around the pet area and place some of the fresh herbs in and around their homes (inside their beds, on the floor, etc.). They called it strewing many, many years ago.
Mary B.

Reviewed July 2023

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