Hey friend, it’s Jess…the original Scratch Mommy. I am SO excited to share this DIY recipe with you today. I’m sure many of you are dog lovers and have been searching for the best and most effective non-toxic DIY flea and tick repellent solution. Well, THIS is IT!
The newest member of our family was born February 28th of this year, so he’s now almost five months old. You might have seen me posting about him on the Scratch Mommy Instagram feed recently. Our new Golden Retriever’s name is Chouli…and he is about the sweetest little puppy I’ve even seen.
Quick fun story…his name is Chouli (as in patchouli) because every time we went to Chris and Becky’s, the lovely family who had an ‘oopsie’ litter, to visit with the puppies she said that all of the puppies smelled like patchouli. Once we picked out our new fellow, they just started calling him Chouli…and it stuck!
Oliver and Chouli are getting along perfectly, which is saying a lot for a four month old puppy and an almost four year old toddler. They love and snuggle on each other as much as they can and it’s quite possibly the cutest thing I’ve ever seen…
A Natural Dog Life
FOOD: We knew immediately that we would feed Chouli the best of the best. We considered a raw food diet, but quickly realized not only how involved it would be but also the high costs in feeding him this way. The grain-free food we selected is preservative-free and packed full of healthy proteins (from free-range chickens to wild-caught fish), it contains 80% premium animal ingredients and 20% fresh fruits, vegetables, and botanicals, and even has cartilage and liver and liver oil. So, the food is covered! (You can learn more about another healthy, holistic food option here on Scratch Mommy.)
TOYS: Wow, there are some fantastic options out there for doggie toys that meet my strict organic criteria! Simply Fido has quickly become a favorite. Check out this adorable organic owl and this super cute caterpillar (which will definitely fulfill your pup’s need to chew, in a healthy and organic way)! So, the toys are covered.
PERSONAL CARE: Next, his personal care items needed tackling (and this is where it gets fun). We live on 5 heavily wooded acres. Translation: lots of ticks and fleas and flies. Chouli’s shampoo is covered through this DIY face wash recipe. I just add in a few extra drops of tea tree, lavender, and patchouli essential oils (some of our favorite essential oils), plus a little organic neem oil.
As for controlling ticks and fleas…well, that’s why you are here, right? 😉 There was no WAY I’d be slathering sweet little Chouli in a toxic liquid on the back of his neck. Nope, no way…that was NOT going to happen.
Toxic Flea And Tick Repellents
You may or may not realize just how toxic some of the flea and tick repellents out there really are, for both our pets and humans, too. Please allow me to school you…
“…an organic compound similar to the natural pyrethrins produced by the flowers of pyrethrums…Pyrethroids now constitute the majority of commercial household insecticides.”1
At first glance, this sounds like it could be okay, right? Noooooo, SO wrong!
“…pyrethroid-based flea and tick treatments — from Hartz, Sergeant’s, Farnam, and Bayer — are approved for sale by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and they are readily available at grocery stores, specialty pet retailers, and hardware stores. But they are also linked to thousands of reported pet poisonings, and they have stirred the ire of pet owners, the concern of veterinarians, and the attention of regulatory agencies.”2
Beyond pet poisonings and deaths, let’s think about the toxicity these pyrethroids can have on humans!
“…data show that at least 50 deaths have been attributed to the chemicals since 1992 — 20 of them since 2003. In her master’s thesis, Jacqueline Mosby, now a branch chief with the EPA toxics program, used EPA and American Association of Poison Control Centers data, as well as reports in scientific and medical journals, to document the deaths of four people following pyrethrin or pyrethroid exposures: a 37-year-old woman who died after she gave her dog a flea bath, a 39-year-old woman who died after applying a flea treatment to her two dogs, an 11-year-old girl who died after washing her dog with a pet shampoo, and a 48-year-old woman who died after using a bug spray.”3
Human health issues from pyrethrins and pyrethroids increased by about 300 percent over the past decade. In a review from 2008 of the past 10 years’ worth of over 90,000 adverse-reaction shows that, “…pyrethrins and pyrethroids accounted for over 26 percent of all fatal, “major,” and “moderate” human incidents in the United States in 2007, up from 15 percent in 1998.”3
So no, I do not want to love and cuddle on my pet who’s been doused in this stuff…nor my almost four year old…let alone applying it to poor Chouli! One final note, pyrethroids have also been linked to growing rates of ADHD in children. Something to ponder, for sure!
Even the Humane Society has a warning for all pet owners regarding the use of flea and tick remedies. They make mention of pyrethroids, but also warn against using remedies that use tetrachlorvinphos, or TCVP. This is found in many pet flea collars, pet shampoos, and flea powders. According to the EPA, TCVP is ‘likely to be carcinogenic to humans.’4
So, let’s go ahead and skip using that one, shall we!?
Finally, we have fipronil. This ingredient is also found in many flea control products and has its own set of warnings and issues. “Fipronil has a moderate acute toxicity to people and mammals.”5
Flumethrin & Imidacloprid
This is in the class of pyrethroid insecticides, but worth mentioning on its own. I was told by a veterinarian that a certain collar was totally safe and that the sales rep actually put it in his mouth to demonstrate that to him. Ummm….no.
Furthermore, this particular collar also contains imidacloprid…a neonicotinoid. Unless you have been living under a rock (…sorry, that was kind of mean, but…) these nasty insecticides have been linked to the massive decline in our honeybees. No bees, no food.
Naturally, imidacloprid has been shown to cause skin irritations on dogs skin, and humans as well.6 For a family that struggles with skin irritants anyway, this is a huge no-no. Let’s keep Mother Earth in good shape…and our humans, too.
An Easy AND Effective Non-Toxic Flea And Tick Repellent!?? YES!
This recipe was born out of a great deal of research and a bit of trial and error. You know I love playing in the Scratch Mommy Laboratory! We’ve been using it since Chouli came home with us February 23rd. So, how many fleas and how many ticks have we found on Chouli in over four months? Remember, we live on 5 *heavily* wooded acres in Southern Indiana!
Not.One.Single.Flea. and ZERO flea tracks.
…and only one tick, which I found quickly and was able to very easily remove.
I am over the moon excited about this recipe and think that you will be, too. Below you’ll find the recipe and the reasoning behind some of the key ingredients.
- Mix all ingredients in a large glass mixing bowl.
- Makes one 25 oz mason jar. You can use a couple of 16 oz mason jars if you can't find a 25 oz.
- One of the best kitchen investments you can make is in a good digital scale for so many of your DIY creations. (see why Scratch Mommy LOVES this scale!)
- Also, remember that you do not have to be absolutely precise with these measurements. Just getting close is fine. This is definitely not rocket science!
Important Ingredients – DIY Flea And Tick Powder Repellent
Diatomaceous Earth (DE)
What a wonderful ingredient this is…for SO many things! DE is naturally occurring, soft, siliceous sedimentary rock composed of fossilized remains of diatoms, a type of hard-shelled algae.7 DE affects critters with hard shells. Essentially, it cuts up the hard-shelled insects and then dehydrates them. Here is the best explanation I found of how it works…
DE is almost pure silica (with some beneficial trace minerals); under a microscope, it looks like shards of glass (glass is made from silica). On any beetle-type insect that has a carapace, like fleas and cockroaches, the DE works under the shell and punctures the body, which then dehydrates and the insect dies. DE is totally nontoxic. There is no buildup of tolerance like there is to poisons because the method of killing is PHYSICAL, not chemical.8
Food grade DE (it is important to get food grade) is safe for humans in both skin contact and in internal use to control parasites in a cleanse. Yes, you can eat DE (and probably do and don’t know it, as it’s often used around grains to kill pesky bugs).
You’ll find DE in my original DIY deodorant recipe and in my DIY DeFunkifying deo recipe (for the super sweaty peeps). Neither of these recipes uses baking soda, a common irritant for many people (as it’s not properly ph balanced for our bodies). The DE makes my deodorants very unique, very effective, and not irritating (like baking soda can be).
Both of these products are also for sale in the Scratch Mommy Organic Skincare Shop.
Neem Powder & Neem Oil
The neem tree grows prolifically in India and has been hailed there (and around the world) for its healing properties. Both the leaves and the oil from the fruit have pesticide, germicide, and medicinal properties.
A very rich smelling tree, both the oil and powder have excellent insect repelling qualities. You’ll find neem in my DeFunkifying Deodorant, my Bug Be Gone Lotion, and my Bug Be Gone Sprays.
You can learn more about neem oil here and neem powder here.
Patchouli Powder & Patchouli Essential Oil
Patchouli…my favorite scent and from where Chouli obtained his name. Most people are familiar with patchouli for it’s scent and it seems as though people either love it or hate it. Many people are not familiar with the fact that patchouli leaves and patchouli essential oil (both from the patchouli bush) are fantabulous insect repellents, as well as effective flea repellents.
You can learn more about patchouli leaf powder here and patchouli essential oil here.
How much to apply?
Chouli is now about 25 pounds. I use about a tablespoon. You’ll want to adjust this as needed, depending on how large your dog is and how much fur s/he has.
When to apply?
I apply this to Chouli at least 3 times a week, so every other day or so. Just a tablespoon for him now covers enough of his fur to keep him safe from the fleas, gnats, etc.
Where and how to apply?
I start on the top of Chouli’s back and work my way down. Just a small amount in my hand at the nape of his neck and work it down to his cute little tooshie. 😉
Then, I put another small amount in my hand and rub it into his belly. It works best for me when he is laying on his back, so the powder stays on him and I can rub it in and not have it fall off onto the floor…although, some on the floor isn’t a bad idea, either!
Once every week or two it’s a good idea to sprinkle some on the carpet and then vacuum it up. I sprinkle around our back door (where Chouli comes in and out a lot) and around his kennel (or crib, as Oliver calls it). Just let it sit for at least 15 minutes or so (longer is fine) and then vacuum away. This will help if fleas or any other nasties have climbed on your furry friend and then jumped off onto the carpet.
Finally, when I give Chouli a good brushing I use some powder. This helps it really get down to his skin!
How long will this last?
Honestly, it’s really hard to say. The picture below shows how much I currently have left and this was created the first week we brought Chouli home (so almost five months of use). This jar holds 25 oz and was full back at the end of February.
Of course, Chouli is a puppy…just a little fellow! You’ll need to adjust, based on how much hair s/he has, how big puppers is, etc etc etc.
Possible substitutions & do I really need all of these ingredients!??
Honestly, they all serve a purpose. I have only used the recipe as written here. That said, if you do some substituting, let me know how it works for you and your fur-ball! I would not eliminate the neem (powder or oil), patchouli (powder or oil), or arrowroot, for sure. Those are staples! The arrowroot is ‘slick’ and helps the powders work down into the fur where they can stay and work their magic.
Do NOT slack on your applications!
This is not a toxic liquid application, which after reading the top part of this post I’m sure you can appreciate.
This recipe works super well for me, but you have to apply, Apply, APPLY! This is a topical treatment and will not soak into your little buddy’s skin, which…again…is a good thing! You just have to make sure that you stay up on it.
This is reminding me of the advice I give people when they make my DIY sunscreen recipe. Sometimes natural solutions take a bit more work.