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Homemade flea repellents are easy to whip up and lower your pet’s – and your family’s – exposure to synthetic insecticides, so why not give them a try?

1. Lemon spray

1. Lemon spray
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Cut 2 peeled lemons (no rind) into small pieces, put the pieces into a saucepan of 1 litre water and boil till pulpy. Remove the pan from the heat and let the mixture stand overnight. Strain the liquid into a spray bottle and spray your dog or cat almost all over, especially under the “armpits”, behind the ears and around the head, taking care to shield the eyes. When you spray at the base of the tail, avoid spraying your pet’s genitals. You can also dip a brush into the mixture, and run it through their coat.

2. Vinegar repellent

2. Vinegar repellent
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Repel fleas with a solution made from 10 parts water to 1 part apple cider or white vinegar. Pour it into a spray bottle and spray your pet as with the lemon spray.

3. Draw a line in the salt

3. Draw a line in the salt
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Pour table salt around all the crevices of the kennel to keep fleas well away from your dog’s cosy abode. You can also kill flea eggs with salt; when fleas infest your home, they can get everywhere. As adult fleas jump from animals to the carpets, they can lay eggs. Sprinkle salt on your carpets to kill flea eggs or larvae; let it sit for a day, then vacuum. Repeat the process a few days later to make sure you haven’t missed any flea eggs. Each time you vacuum the salt, tie up and discard the vacuum cleaner bag that you’ve used.

4. Pine scent in a kennel

4. Pine scent in a kennel
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A pile of fresh pine needles placed underneath a dog’s bed will discourage fleas from moving in.

5. Cedar deterrents

5. Cedar deterrents

Add cedar chips or cedar sawdust to the stuffing for your pet’s pillow or bedding. If your dog has a kennel, you can hang or nail a cedar block inside. The odour of cedar repels fleas as well as other nuisance insects, including moths. However, do not use cedar chips if your pet is whelping or for newborn puppies, as the wood can harbour bacteria that can result in infections.

6. Scent dog collars with essential oils

6. Scent dog collars with essential oils
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Shop-bought flea collars often have an unpleasant odour, and you may hesitate to put a chemical-laden collar against your dog’s skin. Instead, rub a few drops of tea-tree, lavender or eucalyptus essential oil into an ordinary webbed or rope collar or bandana and then refresh weekly. Never use essential oils on cats.

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7. Brewer’s yeast flea repellent

7. Brewer’s yeast flea repellent

Some pet owners have reported that brewer’s yeast works as a systemic flea repellent when ingested. If you use the powdered form, sprinkle 1 tsp into your cat or small dog’s food daily (a 20kg dog will need 1 tbsp). You can also use brewer’s yeast topically; just rub it directly into your pet’s fur (or hair). Caution: some animals develop a skin allergy after eating or being rubbed with yeast. If this happens to your pet, discontinue at once.

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