HEALTH & CARE

DIY Flea Shampoo for Dogs: All-Natural Ways to Purge the Itch

a dog scratching his skin for flea
Wyatt Robinson
Written by Wyatt Robinson

Taking your dog for a walk is good for the physical and mental health of not just the dog, but you as well. However, it does come with a single con: whenever he spends time outdoors, he is quite likely to contract fleas. Once he gets afflicted, the flea infestation can take over the whole house. It has to be dealt with quickly and thoroughly, but you can’t apply commercial flea products on your dog too often, or he could get poisoned. You should use DIY flea shampoo for dogs in conjunction with commercial treatments.

Sneaking some time out of your busy schedule to work on some safe DIY flea shampoos for your dog can be very rewarding. DIY flea shampoos can be made easily using ingredients that we already have in our pantry—at little to no cost. Yet another reason why we recommend DIY shampoo is that on top of getting rid of fleas, it will also moisturize your dog’s skin and coat, keep your dog smelling good for days on end, and prevent future flea infestations—all without posing a health hazard to your dog.

natural+anti-flea+shampoo for dogs

In this article, we are going to give you a plethora of info about flea-repelling ingredients and their use in homemade flea shampoos. We have also included the best and easiest flea shampoo recipes that you can create using easy-to-acquire ingredients in mere minutes.

Symptoms and Signs of Fleas in Dogs

Fleas are some of the world’s most common pests. These nasty parasites are usually found on the skin of warm-blooded animals. They need to suck blood to stay alive, and you need some safe concoction to kill them. Before you proceed with some DIY recipes, you are advised to confirm whether your dog is really suffering from a flea infestation or not.

Runing a wide tooth comb through your dog's hair after spraying it

The easiest way to do that is by running a flea comb through your bestie’s fur. Besides this, the presence of flea dirt (around the belly) and flea eggs also indicate flea infestation in dogs. Some parts of the body fleas love to nest in are—behind the ears, around the tail, and under the chin. To better identify the problem, here are some other signs to look for:

  • Continuous itching

  • Scratching at the ears

  • Chewing on different body parts

  • Tapeworms

  • Anemia

  • Pale gums

  • Flea eggs visible on a dog’s coat

  • Hair loss

  • Allergic dermatitis

  • Scabs

  • If you take a close look, fleas can actually be spotted jumping all around and moving over a dog’s body (in severe infestation cases)

Reasons to Use DIY Flea Shampoo

Applying commercial products might be the easiest and the fastest solution, but commercial flea products can’t be applied too often. They are really potent and may cause poisoning and overdosing in dogs.

A dog in a towel after taking a bath

Pyrethrin in chemical shampoos gets easily absorbed through skin pores; your dog will be exposed to multiple health risks. Common signs of pyrethrin poisoning include:

  • Vomiting

  • Seizures

  • Drooling

  • Lethargy

  • Wheezing

  • Manic or aggressive behavior

On the other hand, homemade flea shampoos are recommended for pet owners who bathe their pups frequently because:

  • The natural ingredients in DIY products are safe for regular use. Canines with sensitive, dry, or problematic skin will definitely benefit from this all-natural, harmless, and highly recommended option for all skin types.
  • You should always use a DIY shampoo as opposed to a commercial one if your snuggler is still very young. Toxin-filled commercial products are not recommended for little pups. Similarly, elderly or sick canines must be kept away from these chemicals.

  • If your dog happens to lick his own coat, it could lead to an accidental ingestion of the chemicals. Using DIY flea shampoo lessens the risk of accidental poisoning in dogs.

  • While preparing a DIY flea shampoo, you are free to add any harmless and natural ingredient that you believe to be good for your furry sidekick (e. g. aloe vera and glycerin) to increase the effectiveness and the fragrance.

  • You are not bound to store these homemade shampoos in some jar for future use. Preparing them is so easy and handy that you can create it according to your pet’s requirement. Thus, you will have a fresh and more effective concoction each time you need to give your dog a flea bath (still, it can be stored in some used and washed container if you want).

  • Besides their cost-effectiveness, DIY flea shampoos are safe to use even in households with kids.

Common DIY Flea Shampoo Ingredients and Their Effectiveness

Before we provide you with DIY flea shampoo recipes, let’s first take a quick look at a number of ingredients that you may need to prepare. The most commonly-used and effective ingredients in homemade flea shampoos are:

Vinegar

Known for its sour taste, vinegar (white or apple cider) is a common item used in DIY flea shampoos. Its strong odor works as an effective repellent for these parasites. It’s a common ingredient in DIY shampoos not just because of its flea-killing capacity, but also because it leaves behind a mild scent that helps in preventing future infestations.

Vinegard bottles on the table

The application of apple cider vinegar is also effective in curing any bacterial growth on your pup’s skin. Some other advantages of vinegar include—the removal of dander and the reduction of flaky skin. Vinegar is safe, even if it comes in direct contact with your pet’s skin.

Lemon

We all know about the acidic properties of citrus fruits (grapefruit, limes, oranges, lemons). Citrus bath for dogs is a wonderfully safe and skin-friendly way to get rid of fleas. Lemon is one of the most effective natural deterrents for fleas. It can also remove bacteria from your bestie’s skin.

Lemons on the table

Both lemon essential oil and fresh lemon juice can be used to make DIY flea shampoos. Besides this, lemon can also be used to make a homemade flea deterrent that you can use after shampooing your dog. The best way is to boil 4 to 5 slices of lemon peel off for apply few hours (on low heat). Use after straining and cooling it down. All you need is to rub the solution into your dog’s already shampooed coat and rinse it after letting it sit.

Liquid Dish-Washing Soap

No flea shampoo is complete without a liquid dish-washing soap. In the first place, we need it to work up a lather. Secondly, liquid dishwashing soaps come with an intensely thick substance that covers the whole body and smothers the fleas. Just be sure that the soap you have picked is non-toxic and dye-free.

Liquid Dish-Washing Soap

To get the complete benefit of it, you are advised to let the soap stay in the coat for 5 to 10 min approx. Keep a close watch over your pup, as it is a critical time (for both the fleas and the dog) and you might find fleas escaping towards the safer zones like the eyes or the nose. To face a situation like this, keep yourself equipped with blunt tweezers and a flea comb to remove those buggers physically.

Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing alcohol is a perfumed and denatured solution. Besides having antiseptic properties, it is also used for killing fleas. Rubbing alcohol mixture can be used on pets, carpets, furniture, and other pet-frequented areas in your house. It’s the strong scent of the solution that repels the fleas. Rubbing alcohol can be used in flea sprays and DIY flea shampoos.

Essential Oils

We all know about the amazing benefits of essential oils. They come with anti-bacterial and anti-parasitic properties. That is why they are considered helpful in repelling and killing fleas. Essential oils can also be used as a repellent against mosquitos and ticks. Besides this, essential oils deodorize your dog’s coat.

Lavender oil and a bottle on the table

However, not all essential oils can be used to get rid of fleas; if you are given a choice, choose lavender, peppermint, rosemary, cinnamon, and wormwood essential oil. The one that you must never use for pets is potpourri oil.

Avoid applying essential oils directly on the skin (especially on damaged or broken skin). It must be applied after mixing with other ingredients. Once you’ve apply them, keep a close watch on your little friend—accidental ingestion might be dangerous.

Aloe Vera Gel

We are all aware of the natural goodness of aloe vera. Besides being a natural hydrator, aloe vera can cure skin problems like hot spots, itchy, flaky, or dry skin. Keeping in view the benefits, it has become a widely-used ingredient in most DIY flea concoctions.

Castile Soap or Baby Shampoo

You need it just to make sure that your DIY shampoo holds together perfectly. It also helps in incorporating all the oily substances found in the product.

Image of a Pure Castile Soap

As castile soap is made of olive oil, it also serves as a skin moisturizer, and it can help relieve skin-related issues like itch and irritation.

Baking Soda

Free from any harsh and irritating chemicals, baking soda helps in killing fleas naturally. There are a number of DIY flea shampoo recipes where baking soda is involved. As a base component, it balances out the acidity level of vinegar by restoring the pH level of the skin. It also works as a natural cleanser; it helps in removing skin impurities that may cause allergic reactions.

Recipes for the Best DIY Flea Shampoos

Check out our list of the best homemade flea shampoos narrowed down below. Be it a dog ridden with fleas or just an early stage of infestation, these recipes are good for any condition.

Recipe #1: Soap and Vinegar DIY Flea Shampoo

This is a long-lasting and versatile mixture can be stored and used as needed. Store it in a dry spot away from direct contact with sunlight.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of liquid dish soap

  • 1 cup of white vinegar

  • 1 quart of warm water

Directions:

  • Take a large bowl and put all three ingredients inside. Stir them well to make a perfectly-combined mixture.

  • Massage it into your pooch’s fur just like any other shampoo. Let the mixture stay in your dog’s coat for about 5 minutes.

  • Rinse well with lukewarm water and towel-dry your pet.

Recipe #2: Rosemary and Peppermint DIY Flea Shampoo

If you’re looking for a smooth and sweet-smelling DIY flea shampoo, then this could be the right one for you.

Natural flea shampoo on a table

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup of apple cider vinegar

  • 5 drops of peppermint essential oil

  • 5 drops of rosemary essential oil

  • 1 tsp. of olive oil

  • 1½ tbsp. of liquid castile soap

  • 2tbsp. of distilled water

Directions:

  • The first step is to combine apple cider vinegar, olive oil, castile soap, and water in a large container.

  • Add 5 drops of both essential oils and mix them well. It is ready to use.

  • Massage the shampoo into the fur and leave it for at least 5 minutes before rinsing.

Recipe #3: Gentle DIY Flea Shampoo for Sensitive Skin

This is a simple recipe that only relies on the cleansing properties of soap and lemon juice.

Dog homemade shampoo

As there is nothing harmful in this mixture, you can repeat it once in a week (for severe cases of infestation), but do not apply it on open sores because the lemon juice will burn.

Ingredients:

  • ½ to ¼ cup of castile soap or baby shampoo

  • ½ cup of fresh lemon juice

  • 2 cups of warm water

Directions:

  • Get your squeezed lemon juice in a bowl. Add warm water to it. Mix well.

  • The next step is to add baby shampoo or liquid castile soap to the mixture. Stir it well so that all the ingredients get incorporated smoothly.

  • Apply this shampoo on wet fur. Before you rinse it off, let the shampoo stay in the coat for a few minutes.

  • Now rinse and repeat if needed. Towel-dry the little snuggler.

Recipe #4: Dry DIY Flea Shampoo

Dry shampooing is a technique that you can go with between the normal bathing sessions in a month.

DIY Dry Dog Shampoo

The purpose of dry flea-bathing is not just to kill and repel fleas, but also, to rehydrate the dog’s skin without drying it out— quite the opposite of what normally happens in traditional flea bathing.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of cornstarch

  • 1 cup of baking soda

  • 3 to 4 drops of lemon or lavender essential oil

Directions:

  • Take a bowl and mix up cornstarch and baking soda in it. Combine them so well that they become one.

  • Pour in the said amount of essential oils.

  • Call your dog and start working this powdery shampoo into his coat.

  • Massage it so well that it covers all the affected areas. The groin, the neck, and the stomach are more likely to host many of these tiny bloodsuckers.

  • As this is a dry flea shampoo, you do not need to use water.

Recipe #5: Essential Oil DIY Flea Shampoo

This recipe uses a combination of many different essential oils. The presence of a variety of essential oils ensures no future infestations—as the scent will keep on repelling parasites.

Essential Oil DIY Flea Shampoo

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp. of orange or lemon essential oil

  • 1 tbsp. of lavender oil

  • 1 tbsp. of aloe vera juice

  • 2 tablets of vitamin E, dissolved in one cup of hot water

  • 1 tbsp. of oatmeal

  • ½ cup of non-toxic liquid dishwashing soap

Directions:

  • Take a jar and combine all the ingredients well.

  • Wash and rub your dog’s fur with it. Make sure that the suds stay on the coat for five minutes before rinsing.

Recipe #6: Alcohol-Based DIY Flea Shampoo

This is one of the more potent DIY flea shampoos, so it shouldn’t be used too often, although it is a much safer option than commercial products.

Dog homemade shampoo

The addition of dish-washing detergent is important because it helps in creating lather.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of warm water

  • 1/4 cup of isopropyl rubbing alcohol

  • 5 drops of liquid dish detergent

Directions:

  • Grab a bowl and put all the ingredients inside.

  • Rub the solution onto dry fur.

  • Leave it on for a few minutes then rinse with a stream of water.

Tips for a Safe and Effective Flea Bath

Now that you’ve got the shampoo ready, all that’s left is to apply it to your dog. We’ve got a few final tips for you on how to best make use of the aforementioned DIY flea shampoos.

  • Whenever you try a new DIY flea shampoo for dogs, always do a patch test first. It can save your bugger from adverse reactions later on.
  • Whichever recipe you are using, always start shampooing from the top and work your way towards the bottom. This way, the fleas will not be able to run to the top areas like the ears and the face the way they normally do.
  • Be very careful while washing your dog’s head. Make sure that the shampoo does not get into his eyes.
  • Before you rinse off the shampoo, let it sit for about 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Running a flea comb after every flea bath helps in removing fleas and their eggs.
  • Avoid bathing your pup too frequently—don’t go over two times per month.

Wrap Up

Flea baths using DIY flea shampoos is enough to get rid of the flea infestation afflicting your dog, but the fleas may very well come back if you don’t purge the house of fleas. For a more permanent solution to the problem, target the parasites and their eggs hiding in every nook and cranny in your house.

To do that, you need to make a spray-on concoction. Mix 1 cup of vinegar with 3 cups of water; or you can make a mixture that’s one part rubbing alcohol and one part water. Spraying any of these solutions around the house can keep those fleas at bay.

A brown dog scratching his sking for flea

Have you ever tried using any homemade shampoo on your canine? Was it useful? If yes, we would like to be let in on your recipe as well. Please share your views, opinions, and suggestions with us in the comment box below.

About the author
Wyatt Robinson
Wyatt Robinson

Wyatt Robinson had a great 25-years career as a veterinarian in United Kingdom. He used to be a member of British Veterinary Association and worked in 3 pet hospitals in London and Manchester. He is shining when he sees his pets healthy and full of energy and it is his duty to help other dog owners to keep their best friends full of life.

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