Debra Lynn Dadd

Flea control for dogs



What do you recommend for flea and tick control for dogs? I saw Sergeant's Nature's Guardian squeeze on product and their powder. The package says it is "natural". The ingredients listed are peppermint oil, cinnamon oil, lemon grass oil, clove oil, thyme oil, vanillin, and isopropyl myristate. The powder has the same oils but has silicic acid, calcium salt, carbonic acid, monosodium salt, and calcium carbonate. Do you think these "natural" products are safe?
Thanks for your help.



First, let's look at the ingredients.

Obviously cinnamon oil and the like are natural. Isopropyl myristate is not quite natural. It is made from myristic acid (a saturated fatty acid from plants) and isopropyl alcohol (made from petrochemicals). So it's a "half-and-half" ingredient.

The rest of the ingredients are natural.

I don't see any ingredients here that are particularly toxic, however, it is always wise to be careful with essential plant oils as they are very concentrated and can be irritating to the skin.

I don't see any reason not to use this.

Readers, what do you use to control fleas on dogs?

Debra :-)


I have used scads of natural flea remedies for our three dogs with little success. Here in Hawaii we have a particularly difficult to get rid of variety of fleas. Our natural vet recommended a product that is much safer than Frontline, Advantage, etc, to compliment the other approaches.

Capstar, which is like nicotine. One dose will kill the fleas in minutes and lasts for 24 hours during which you do the other interventions, as opposed to constantly poisoning your pet. It can be used three days in a row, but I was using it less than once weekly, now less than monthly.

Natural interventions: for the pets areas-pyrethrin (get natural!), diatomacious earth (don't inhale), apple cider vinegar in their drinking water (1 T per gallon) Natural dog shampoo with neem, etc. Need to leave it on for 7 minutes. If you can have the dog submerged for the rinse, that helps too. Drowning will kill most of them in that time.

Eggs are a different matter so you must keep on top of it. A lemon or vinegar rinse helps too, but never use for cats!

We also used the compliment to Capstar during a really heavy infestation in our state called Program which makes the fleas sterile. After 6 months of one dose once a month, we haven't needed it again. However if you take your dog to other locations, fleas can be brought home again. Trainers I know who spend a fortune on natural food for their dogs will use Capstar after every contact with other dogs.

Good luck!

POSTED BY SADIE :: HAWAII USA :: 08/07/2008 8:08 AM

Am very interested in any input from readers as to what they use for TICKS - fleas apparently have a pretty concrete lifespan of about 30 days, and then, problem is solved. With ticks, however, the several phases of the life span can remain dormant for VERY long periods, in yard/outdoors and home, and once on a "breathing" source (they apparently have a CO2 "sensor" and so leap onto any mammal that passes by in order to further their developmental span - too long to go into here, but it is a BEAR to counteract!) We have had the yard treated by Flea- and Tickbusters several times, which works...but, since the typical lifecycle of the tick is 90 days, and there are some that remain in tree bark, nooks and crannies, under loose floor tiles, etc, one seeming can have them under control, only to find that the "dormant" ones that didn't get the chemical on them when yard was treated, live on and then, reinfest! The yard treatments we had done are pyrethrin based (a granular type of product, followed by a liquid that is sprayed ON the granules), which is the least toxic of the chemicals being used to kill ticks...but it still is a neurotoxin and also causes a couple of our animals to get rather serious rashes (we also itch when working in the sand/dirt in yard).

We recently found ticks on the dogs again, although we had had about 6 weeks with none - and then, our daily vacuuming and twice-daily tick checks began in earnest again. 63 ticks in one day was the worst - we are now down to between 2 and none! :) Now, we don't let the dogs run in the yard any more, they are restricted to one area as to where they can "do their business", and are still using Advantix on them monthly - but that product, which the Vet told us was the most effective veterinary product for ticks, doesn't seem to kill them - in doing tick checks, I rarely find one that is barely alive or dead; perhaps this is because I am doing tick checks frequently. I had understood from the Vet that within 12 hours, the Advantix would affect the ticks, essentially paralyzing them - but, since we have found mommy ticks that we apparently have missed previously on the dogs, who are "engorged" with blood and becoming full of tick eggs (and with the brown dog ticks that we have, there can be 3000 babies, one website said! Yike!!). I don't think this engorgement of the female ticks happens in less than 8 hours, so am not sure how effective this potentially harmful (to dogs and also TO CATS - it can be fatal if Advantix gets on cats!) chemical in Advantix IS - does anyone know?

I called two holistic veterinary supply stores and was told there are herbal/natural/safe preparations for FLEAS but they knew of none that really work for ticks, due to their tenacious life cycle and goodness knows what other factors. Discouraging, to say the least. We live in Hawaii and so there is no winter to kill off insects, and from what I read in websites on lifecycles of ticks, even winter just puts them into dormant state - they re-emerge or I should say, persevere in their dormant state, just waiting for opportunity to continue on when warmer weather comes! Any input from anyone would be most appreciated!


Hi Leslie,
We're on the big island and ticks aren't a problem for us. We keep our large yard mowed and run our 8 chickens in the afternoon and morning. I have heard they are the best tick control and it must work. In 6 years we found one tick for three dogs!

POSTED BY SADIE :: HAWAII USA :: 08/07/2008 2:19 PM

Thanks Sadie, for your posting! Our son also suggested we get a chicken and that might take care of it! Will ask our neighbors how they feel about a chicken in the neighborhood...our lots are under about 8,000 sq feet, and so houses are close!

I have another query: we are using Advantix, as the Vet suggested as being the most effective, and yet, we still find "live" ticks attached to the dogs, as well as a few that have begun to "engorge" on the way to motherhood - yikes! Does anyone know how many hours or days it takes for the Advantix to WORK (it supposedly paralyzes the tick at some point - it is a nervous system toxin for them - hopefully, not for us!?), when applying it monthly as directly? We had also wanted to use Frontline SPRAY on their feet in order to walk them without their picking up ticks, but were advised NOT to mix two products on the dogs - yet I have now run into several families who DO mix Advantix with the Frontline Spray (the Vet had said they preferred Advantix to the Frontline product for dog application, not just the spray, when we first had ticks) without any effects, apparently, on their dogs. One family had used Advantix and is now using Revolution on their dogs, for the ticks - one dog is at the high end of the weight scale recommended for the highest dosage, and so, that dog appears to be more attractive for the ticks - less toxin circulating in the biggest dog. Am a bit confused about all of this. ANY input/help/advice would be much appreciated! Aloha, Les from Hawaii


Our holistic vet provides the following product for fleas, ticks, etc.: Parasite Dust. You can find the information from the vendor here:

I have had a very good experience with Parasite Dust. We just had a minor infestation a few weeks ago and the fleas are done! I removed the adults I could see, pulled off the eggs, etc I could see, laundered the bed clothing and applied the dust. We've had no reoccurence. The dust can also be applied to the house to discourage flies, mites, etc according to the website. It is organic and powder based (no messy oils!). The only downside is it must be reapplied when your dog gets wet. I apply at the base of the tail, shoulder, neck and behind ears. I have even applied to an attached tick and had the tick die. So it even works in that case (although we try to avoid that scenario!)

For Ticks she also provides a repellent called Tick Guard by Botanical Solutions. Depending on the types of ticks you're dealing with we've had mixed results on the Tick Guard. The benefit, is that it can be sprayed on your person as well as your pet.

Good luck to you and your fur-babies.

POSTED BY KJ :: RHODE ISLAND USA :: 08/08/2008 9:15 AM

The thing with neighbors and chickens is just don't get a rooster! My "Critter Ridder" book says basil will get rid of ticks. Crush the entire plant and put in 2 qts. of water. After 2 hours, strain it and put in a sprayer. Says basil has been used for hundreds of years to get rid of ticks! A lint roller with sticky tape can remove alot of the ticks and fleas off animals. There are a few more complicated remedies, but these sound easily done.

POSTED BY SADIE :: HAWAII USA :: 08/08/2008 9:16 AM

I have also used the Parasite Dust here in Hawaii with less success. (We have very resistant fleas here). Perhaps I wasn't keeping it on thick enough. It's a bit pricey and two of our dogs are quite large, one with a thick husky coat. The main ingredient is Diatomacious Earth, so remember not to inhale it, your pet either. I did purchase a large bag of DE from our hardware store at a very reasonable price, however I don't use it much. It is good for getting rid of other house and garden pests too. I have used basil successfully in the past for a flea ridden house I rented. I didn't have pets at that time so they stayed away.

POSTED BY SADIE :: HAWAII USA :: 08/09/2008 6:55 AM

Thanks so much for your postings regarding help for ticks! I am fascinated to learn that basil can be used to eliminate them! This has been an ongoing task of vacuuming daily and dog checks twice daily since last October (it is August now)and I am still finding an occasional tick on the dogs, keeping them to a restricted area to do their seems every couple of months there is another "bloom" of them - the vet says it is because each stage can be "dormant" for years, if need be (seems to be three years or so for the "brown dog tick", which is what we have - on the mainland, she said it can be much more than that for other types of ticks), and since they start out as teeny as a period in this email or smaller, and it is very difficult to distinguish that from a speck of dirt, sometimes, one just lives with ticks that come and go, despite constant vigilance. Neighbors are having their homes and yards sprayed with terrible chemicals, very toxic - which we refuse to do. Thanks again for all your help - and thanks soo, Sadie, regarding not getting a rooster! Our neighbors three houses down made that mistake, and he was around for several years - and would fly out of their yard and visit the rest of us! He is no longer around after having gotten out the last time and the kids chased him for almost a week from yard to yard, finally capturing him with a fair-sized fishnet! Think they decided he needed more open space and so, off he went! Aloha, Les from Kailua, Oahu


With the diatomaceous earth, I have put it in buckets and carefully sprinkled it all around the dog's areas esp. their sleeping places. I would think this will help with the ticks and all critters. The de works best when dry. I have also worked it into their coats, again using care not to breathe it, I aim all of us upwind. I've also put vinegar in my sprayer and covered their areas as an alternative method. With a chicken and basil, you may be able to keep the upper hand.
Best wishes,

POSTED BY SADIE :: HAWAII USA :: 08/10/2008 12:01 PM

For over one year now we have fed a raw food diet to our dog and we have had no fleas (no fleas that we can find on our dog). We started the raw food diet due to a medical problem and were so impressed by the immediate improvement that we have continued with it. Prior to the change in diet we had reluctantly used Advantix because flea shampoos, powder, sprays, vacuuming, etc. were not dealing with problem. We use several different brands of frozen raw dog food plus raw bones; there are several books available on making your own raw dog food (what to combine/appropriate amounts of food, etc.) if you want a cheaper alternative to the frozen food. We've noticed many other benefits as well; our dog is calmer & less aggressive (he's a rescue dog from an abusive home), his breath is better, coat is shiner & smoother, & just healthier.


Posting to Sadie, from Leslie Adams, Kailua, Oahu: Just one question regarding the BASIL PLANT one is to crush and put into 2 quarts of water: how BIG a plant does this need to be? The ones at our garden shop are really small - I asked the gentleman at the nursery what he thought, and he decided I should recheck with you, as you might be referring to a BIG plant that is in a pot at home, having been growing at home for some time(and they do get big!), as versus a LITTLE one from the nursery (or I may have to buy multiple little plants to make up one biggish one?). Could you advise as to number of inches across, and tall, as a guide to use?

Don't know if your Critter Ridder book tells all this - I did look the book up on to get one, but there is no picture of book, nor any reviews, and there are 2002 and 2004 editions - and not sure if that book is what you have at hand or not. Can you give me the author's name? Thanks so very much! Les Adams, Kailua, Oahu


I spend summers in the Western NC mountains and use a combination of things to control fleas and ticks on our small dog. I give him Flea Treats a vitamin B complex you can get online, I use Nature's Guardian powder (the oil was too oily and messy) when we go out for a walk and sometimes if the ticks are particulary bad I will put a citronella wrist band (made for humans) on his harness. I figure if he doesn't smell like a dog maybe they won't find him, LOL! I am pretty dilligent with the flea comb on the dog when we come in from our walk, but haven't found any fleas. I have occasionally found a tick on him or even me, but nothing attached so far, I personally take an extra B vitamin complex when I'm here and use Skin so Soft oil from Avon to keep the ticks and chiggers off the human.

Hope this info helps someone,



I've been out of the loop for awhile, sorry not to have responded earlier Leslie. I grew basil and had scads of it. I'd crush it in the blender. After over 7 months without any fleas and now up to 6 dogs, they're back with the warmer weather. So we're starting up the Program Flavor Tabs again. And it's pricier now! Grandmother's Critter Ridder book is by Dr. Myles H. Bader. Our friends with one of our pups is housesitting a place with tick infestation and another dog there so I'll forward this blog to them. I rarely use the Diatomacious Earth now, vet says irritating to their skin. Would use it in yard areas though, avoiding breathing the dust. Not using the vinegar either, not sure if it made a difference. We feed mostly raw organic too, but these Hawaiian fleas are very challenging!

POSTED BY SADIE :: HAWAII USA :: 07/15/2009 6:16 AM

DE is IMHO one of the best "safe" products, not only do we dust with it but I add it to the dog's food - we feed RAW/BARF; however, I've found this year has been rough with ticks and *gulp* cockaroaches :(.

We've started using products with Pyriproxyfen IGR, it's an insect growth prohibiter. Works on most insects, effectively sterilizing their eggs/larva, they never "grow up."

Recent research shows the new IGR pyriproxyfen mixed with permethrin will often give good long lasting protection (90>) - I say new because the old stuff use to break down in sunlight; no longer the case.

Pyriproxfen is considered "green" safe for use with bees (thankfully-after 4 years I'm finally seeing bees again)and safe (within limits...don't drink it) around pets and people once it dries.

Can be used in damp areas (we have two) I just soak the area, undiluted to keep mosquito down.

It's the same product used in the flea controller Program and Vecta (for cats.)


I don't have any cats or dogs just chickens but we do have a really bad flea problem! Actually my whole street has it. Most of my neighbors have dogs and there is a wondering stray cat who we assume transports the fleas to diffrent areas being it likes to roam though out everyones property. We have been trying to searh locally for DIATOMACEOUS EARTH food grade learning that it is the safe for humans and animals as well as being natural. Anyone in HAwaii (Oahu to be exact) that uses DDIATOMACEOUS EARTH \'d like to know if it's the food grade one you are or did use. Also if so where could we find it locally. The flea problem has gotten so bad it;s in our house and my three children are bitten up from head to toe. My husband and I feel so bad we have been using lavender oil blended with water and some witch hazel to soothe it and keep the fleas off but we need to attack the bigger problem. Also any other suggestions for getting rid of the fleas involving safe and as much as possible natural things thank you.


My first big encounter with the vicious Hawaiian fleas was when I moved into a house that previously had lots of hunting dogs tied and penned about. I didn't have much money and into organic. All I had was loads of basil in my garden. Didn't know if it'd work, but put it everywhere, under the sheets, pillow cases, scattered here and there. It did the trick!

Now we're dealing w/demodectic mange. Anyone with natural remedies that worked? We're using scads of things!

POSTED BY SADIE :: HAWAII USA :: 11/17/2009 10:14 AM

Out here in the country we have about 50 Guinea fowl that run the fields and take care of all the ticks...wish they did so well with the fleas. I comb religiously and bath with our neem based dog soap. It helps significantly but fleas never seem to be totally eliminated from this area in south Texas. I do know that if a pet's immunue system is healthy that parasites are not such a problem. I've started supplementing with brewer's yeast and garlic as well as adding essential oils to a scarf that I tie around their necks. Cowboy dogs - how cute!


I had a 14 yr old dog that developed demodetic mange. I was able to get rid of it by being very diligent and cleaning the area with stridex pads (my vets suggestion) and then putting on a neem w/aloe gel, not all natural, but better than the alternative of giving the dog poison internally. It took a month or two cleaning the area daily, but it worked and did not return.



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