Home Remedies That Will Not Get Rid of Fleas and Ticks — and May Hurt Your Pet

Do a quick Internet search on natural ways to prevent fleas and ticks and you’ll come up with thousands of links. You could spend all day researching these home remedies. The problem: As much as we love using natural solutions when they work, many simply aren't effective at controlling parasites. In some cases these 'remedies' can cause more harm than good for your pet.

So before you add chopped up garlic to your animal’s food or bathe her in essential oils, check out our quick list of home remedies to avoid.

Parasite Prevention and Removal Remedies That Don't Work



Bad Idea: Putting Garlic in Pet Food

Even though a lot of people think this a safe and effective way to prevent fleas, there’s no scientific evidence that garlic — whether it’s fresh from the bulb, powdered or in a supplement — can keep the parasites at bay. Even worse, garlic can be toxic to pets. Garlic contains substances that damage red blood cells in dogs in cats, potentially leading to life-threatening anemia if ingested in large quantities.

Motor oil


Bad Idea: Dipping Pet in Motor Oil, Bleach, Vinegar or Turpentine

Bathing your dog or cat in motor oil, bleach or turpentine is dangerous way to attempt to get rid of fleas or ticks. Depending on the substance, it could cause serious health problems, chemical burns, even death. Vinegar, while it may seem like the safer bet, also has its problems. According to the ASPCA Poison Control Center, ingesting undiluted vinegar can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, mouth irritation and pain.

Lighting match


Bad Idea: Burning a Tick off with Lit Match

Holding a lit match next to fur to remove a tiny parasite should set off alarm bells in your head. If anything, this tick-removal technique could set your poor pet on fire. You should also avoid freezing off a tick with an aerosol-based freezing gel, as you’re more likely to hurt your pet than help him.

Essential oils


Bad Idea: Using Undiluted Essential Oils Directly on Your Pet

Some essential oils, like citronella, may help repel parasites, but that doesn’t mean you should use them on your dog or cat. Essential oils can be toxic to pets at certain concentrations, and these substances can be inhaled, absorbed through the skin or licked by your pet. Some natural flea and tick pet shampoos may contain essential oils, but because the oils are diluted with other ingredients, they are more likely to be safe if used according to label directions.

Nail polish


Bad Idea: Using Nail Polish and Petroleum Jelly to Kill Ticks

It’s an old wives’ tale that nail polish is an effective way to remove ticks. Many people think painting over a tick with varnish or smothering it in petroleum jelly will drown and kill the tick. But it could cause the tick to salivate or regurgitate into the bite wound, increasing the risk of infection. So keep nail polish on fingernails — not on your dog or cat.

The Best Ways to Prevent Parasites

Want to know what will work for you dog or cat? Talk with your veterinarian who can recommend safe parasite-control products that are effective for the parasites in your area. Then make sure you use them as directed.

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