For dog owners who prefer to go the natural route in flea and tick control, products using organic compounds can also work to keep pests under control.
Dr. Cass Ingram, D.O., author of 16 books on natural medicines, including The Cure Is In The Cupboard (Knowledge House, 2003), recommends a combination of oils of oregano, bay leaf, lavender and basil to kill fleas and repel ticks. “Oil of oregano applied topically burns the fleas out of the skin,” he says. “Apply by adding a few drops of the oil to a cup of water and spray your pet.”
Dr. Ingram also cites cumin as a strong anti-microbial, effective against mites. “If the pet licks or touches [any] natural remedy, there is no risk or concern,” he says. “Plus, high-quality natural remedies can be used repeatedly.”
Wild oils of lavender, oregano, basil, cumin and calendula (a palliative cure for itching) are widely available in commercial sprays, and as additions in many natural grooming and first-aid products. The whole herbs can also be used as fumigants in the home, or boiled and steeped as medicinal teas for external use on skin and coat.
Sprayed once or more daily on the coat and in the ear, essential oil preparations can kill and repel fleas and mites on contact, and repel pests (including ticks) for up to two hours per application, according to one study by the University of Guelph, in Ontario, Canada.