How to get rid of fleas naturally- 360 DEGREE PLAN OF ATTACK

11 September 2023

This is war, baby! Fleas are resilient creatures- they have to be- no one wants them, and yet…they survive and thrive..

The most common flea found on dogs and cats in the UK is the cat flea, Ctenocephalides felis. It has a global distribution and has been collected on wild animals, opossoms, fox, rats, mongoose, and hedgehogs.


The best form of flea control is prevention- stop the fleas coming on board by spraying with a flea repellent spray with neem and essential oils before walks. Use our Neem Shield Herbs with Brewers Yeast or CSJ's Billy No Mates or Proflax' Keep Off Me! as flea repellent food supplements daily from 3-6 weeks before the start of the flea season in March/April.

Where to spray? Legs and undercarriage- Fleas are amazingly good at finding new hosts- the cat flea (C. felis) has jumping speed of 3.6 m/s and can jump 17cm (average 13.2cm) with average length 19.9cm. The dog flea (C. canis) jumps higher and longer, but is less common.


Be vigilant! Your flea comb is your best friend- run a flea comb through your pets coat every day- and always if you see them scratch! More fleas are collected from the head and body rather than the tail and legs. Long haired cats appear to harbour more fleas than short-haired cats…to check cats for fleas, position them over a clean white surface ( a sheet/surface or sheet of paper) and ruffle the coat- if there are black specks that streak red with water, these are flea 'dirts' and your pet needs treating.


Treat your pet: Use Neem Shield shampoo to wash your dog- this will get rid of adult fleas on the dog. Keep your dog flea-free by using the Neem Shield spray or the Neem Shield kit for Pets (note though that neem has a pungent garlicky odour- loved by animals, not always so much by their humans).
If fleas are found, all in-contact animals should be treated- the cat flea is an opportunist and will feed on a variety of animals.
For cats, neat neem oil can be used directly on healthy skin (dot on back of neck/base of tail every 2-3 days) or a dilute spray can be used ( see our Neem Kit for Pets- especially on sensitive or irritated skin). You can also use our Neem Dusting powder for pets.
Cats can be sensitive to some essential oils and most natural sprays should not be used on them.

When to treat? Adult fleas have a circadian rhythm with maximum activity occurring about 9 hours into the light phase- this is when they will be questing for new hosts, so it is important to spray or dust pets in the morning.
Continue to groom and/or flea comb your pet. Males must have fed to mate with female fleas, and they usually take from 10-30 minutes to fully fill themselves. Fleas must feed continuously for maximum mating and insemination, so interrupting them as much as possible is important!
Once fleas are on a host for 48h, they don't tend to switch to a different animal. Fleas will live on an animal for roughly 8 days, and females can lay about 50 eggs per day (38.4 eggs per day on average).


Treat the home: Those eggs drop off your pet throughout their wanderings around your home. If there is an infestation, it is worth trying to restrict pets to certain rooms only.

Eggs are very resistant life-forms and can lie dormant for long periods until the right conditions of warmth, humidity and a moving warm-blooded animal nearby, triggers the emergence of flea larvae.
The flea larvae live on floors and soft furnishings- they eat yeast, flea eggs and other larvae.
The larvae then transform into pupae (another very resistant form of the lifecycle) and then into adults- the whole process takes about 3 weeks under optimal conditions. At 15.5C the cycle can take 155 days. Relative humidity is also important- in many Mediterranean countries, there is a reduction in fleas during long hot summers and increased numbers are associated with rainfall.

Hoovering will kill all forms of the life-cycle, but attention should be paid to crevices/cracks in the floor and around the edges of the room where there are hard floors. In carpeted rooms, more flea eggs and larvae accumulate around pet feeding and resting places, so these are areas to focus on.
Vacuuming has been seen to remove 40-80% of eggs in a carpet, but only 5% of larvae. The larvae actively move away from light and into deeper pile/under debris, but they are susceptible to sprays and to drying out as they need a relatively high humidity (>50%).
Nylon and wool loop carpets gives greater protection from pesticide sprays than nylon saxony and nylon contract carpets.
We advise spraying our Shield (Wipe-Out) House spray after hoovering- based on silicones derived from sand, this inert substance will coat adult fleas and will immobilise all other forms for 4 weeks.
Don't forget the car! It will need hoovering/spraying too!

Steam cleaning will also help reduce fleas/eggs/larvae on hard surfaces, but as fleas need humid conditions, surfaces and furnishings should be dried thoroughly.
Washing bedding at over 60C has been recommended to kill fleas and eggs, and no stage of the flea lifecycle is known to survive 5 days at below 1 degree centigrade, so freezing is an option where washing is impractical.


Manage the outside environment. The temperature and humidity needs of fleas mean that they are unlikely to survive outside the home unless in shaded, humid places- so remove undergrowth, especially around patios and doors.
Do not encourage foxes, hedgehogs and other wildlife near the house- the cat flea is very indiscriminate as to host, and the eggs dropped by these animals will then hatch and infest your pets.
For the same reason, make sure your basement/loft/crawl spaces are not home to birds or mammals which could bring fleas into the home.
Remember! You also could act as a vehicle for cat flea eggs to enter the home- so be aware what animals you are in contact with, and brush yourself down if you have been somewhere with itchy pets!


Stay vigilant! Flea comb at least each day from March to November- and always when your pet scratches. Don't be taken unawares by fleas as numbers build quickly in the right conditions.

Rust MK (2017) 'The Biology and ecology of cat fleas and advancements in their Pest Management :A Review', Insects 2017 (8) 118
Ellse L and wall R (2014) 'The use of essential oils in veterinary ectoparassite control: A Review' Med Vet Entolomology, 28, 233-243
Dryden, Michael. (1993). Biology of fleas of dogs and cats. Comp. Cont. Educ. Pract. Vet.. 15. 569-579.