Holistic Flea Control Strategies

Filed Under: Cats, Parasites

Did you know that vacuuming can be detrimental to the fleas in your pet’s environment? Cleaning the house may actually help you destroy pests. Ohio State University has studied the effects of vacuuming on the most common flea plaguing pets, the cat flea. Their study revealed that 96 percent of adult fleas and 100 % of younger fleas (pupae and larvae stages) were destroyed after passing through a vacuum cleaner.

Regardless of the vacuum used, fleas take a one-way trip in a vacuum cleaner. Researchers theorize that the brushes contained within the vacuum damage the outer waxy layer of the fleas causing them to become dehydrated, and subsequently result in the death of the flea.

Vacuuming is a tremendous flea control measure that involves no chemicals and whose only mode of action is to physically remove the problem.

Natural commercial flea sprays and powders are available, mostly based on Neem, pyrethrums, and various aromatic herbs (ex. cedar and rosemary) whose efficacy has not yet been demonstrated. Neem is now grown in tropical areas and was originally naïve to India, Sri Lanka, and B urma. Neem is also called the lilac tree, indiar, neembaum or holy tree. Neem is believed to be effective against Ixodid ticks and various mites in addition to fleas.

Pyrethrum obtained from the chrysanthemum plant is used in commercial flea products. In some products synthetic pyrethrums are substituted for natural pyrethrums. In general, pyrethrums have a very short duration of activity with a rapid knock-down for fleas.

Any shampoo will remove and kill fleas on a pet when the bath takes place. It does not matter whether the shampoo is specific for fleas or not. Any shampoo will be detrimental to fleas. Unfortunately there is no residual activity unless the shampoo contains an added flea killer and most of those flea shampoos will only have limited residual activity.

Beware of any flea treatments containing pennyroyal. Pennyroyal is very effective in killing fleas but may also result in the death of the pet. Even low levels of pennyroyal oil or tea have resulted in death in humans. A case report concerning toxicosis in a dog was documented in 1992 resulting in neurologic clinical signs leading to death from lethal hepatic (liver) damage.


Robinson, Narda. “Top 10 Holistic Medicine Traps.” Veterinary Practice News. June 2008. P. 20-21.

“Vacuuming Sucks for Fleas.” Veterinary Practice News. February 2008. P. 2.

Wynn, Susan and Barbara Fougere. Veterinary Herbal Medicine. Pp. 382, 605-606.

Topics: fleas, holistic methods

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