Ways to Use Rosemary to Repel Fleas on Your Dog

Rosemary oil can be effective in preventing flea infestations, but it has some limitations.

Published February 2, 2023
Woman giving her dog a rosemary flea rinse

Fleas are a common problem for dogs, and getting rid of them is serious business. Finding a more natural treatment may be important if you are sensitive to flea medications or you don't want to expose your dog to certain chemicals. Fleas are also known to carry several diseases, including tapeworm parasites and bacterial infections. Fortunately, rosemary is a natural flea repellent, and it can give you a chance to try alternative treatment options before you have to rely on medications.

What is Rosemary?

Rosemary is a perennial herb with fragrant, evergreen, needle-like leaves and white, pink, purple, or blue flowers. It is a member of the mint family Lamiaceae and is native to the Mediterranean region. It has a long history of culinary and medical use. The Ancient Greeks and Romans used it in their baths and burnt it as incense in their temples, believing it had purifying properties.

Woman cutting rosemary herb branches by scissors

Medicinally, rosemary has been used since ancient times to treat respiratory infections, such as coughs and colds. It was also thought to be helpful in treating memory loss due to its sharp smell alerting the brain. Historically, rosemary was known as an insect repellent. Some people still use it today in this way by burning it as incense during outdoor events such as picnics or barbecues where bugs are present.

Using Rosemary to Repel Fleas

Rosemary oil is extracted from the leaves of the rosemary plant. This oil has been used for centuries as a natural treatment to prevent flea infestations.

Rosemary contains a compound called camphor, which is toxic to fleas when ingested. The smell of camphor acts as a deterrent to fleas, causing them to stay away from your pet and your home.

The effectiveness of rosemary in repelling fleas depends on several factors:

  • The concentration of rosemary oil present
  • The duration of its application
  • The area where it is applied

Make Your Own Rosemary Rinse

Making rosemary rinse for fleas is a great way to get rid of the pests that are bothering your dog. Not only does it smell good, but it can help fight the fleas in their fur. Prior to rinsing your dog with the rosemary solution, run a flea comb through their fur to remove as many fleas as possible.

How to make a rosemary flea rinse infographic

Take the following steps to make your own rinse:

  • To make a rosemary wash, take 2 pints of water and bring to a boil.
  • Add 2 cups of fresh rosemary leaves and keep it boiling for 30 minutes.
  • After 30 minutes, turn off the heat and allow the water to cool.
  • Strain out the leaves and save the water. You can throw away the leaves.
  • Pour the cooled water into a glass container with a lid. Only use it when it is completely cool.
  • Store any excess in the refrigerator and use it within a week.

Applying the Rosemary Rinse

Give your pet a bath first, using your preferred dog-specific shampoo. Wash your dog thoroughly, being careful not to submerge their ears or eyes.

After thoroughly rinsing the shampoo out of your dog's fur, apply the rosemary rinse throughout their fur, making sure to cover any areas where fleas tend to gather. Focus on the base of the tail, in the creases of your dog's body, such as under their armpits, and on the back of their neck.

When applying any type of oil or herb, first use a comb or brush to spread it evenly through your pet's fur so that every part gets covered with the solution. Then, just let the fur air dry on its own. Don't blow dry or towel dry your pet right away.

Additionally, be sure to clean all areas in your home that your dog comes in contact with, such as their bedding, toys, and any furniture they may lie on. You can either use an enzymatic cleanser or warm, soapy water to wipe out these spots. Pillows and dog beds should be placed in the dryer once they're cleaned to kill off any remaining pests.

Creating Your Own Rosemary Powder

To create your own rosemary powder to repel fleas, collect some rosemary leaves and crush them into a fine powder. You can do this by placing the leaves in a plastic bag and crushing them with a rolling pin or hammer.

Then, place the crushed leaves into a sieve and shake them over your pet's coat repeatedly until all the powder is their fur. You will want to do this at least once per day for several weeks in order to ensure protection against flea infestations.

Using Essential Oils for Flea Control

If you're looking for an all-natural approach to flea control, essential oils made from rosemary can be a good option. They are widely available and easy to use. Just add a few drops of the diluted oil to your dog's bath water, or use a spray bottle filled with water and a drop or two of rosemary oil and shake well before applying to your dog's coat.

Hint: You can also add a drop or two of lavender oil and lemongrass oil to make the spray more effective. No matter what you spray onto your dog's coat, make sure not to get any in their eyes, nose, ears, or mouth.

Small bottle of essential rosemary oil

In addition to rosemary, the following essential oils are known to repel fleas:

  • Lemongrass
  • Peppermint
  • Tea tree oil
  • Eucalyptus
  • Cedarwood
  • Citronella

All of these are generally safe for dogs as long as they are used properly and diluted with at least 1 part essential oil to 20 parts water. However, some may cause skin irritation if they are not used properly or mixed with other essential oils or other flea repellents, so be careful when you use them for your furry friend. Always consult with your veterinarian before trying any alternative treatments on your dog.

Not for Serious Infestations

Essential oil treatments that include rosemary are very effective for flea control, but there is one thing to keep in mind: the severity of your dog's infestation. If they have a severe flea problem, you might want to consider using a commercial product from your veterinarian.

While essential oils can be very effective in repelling and killing fleas, they will not kill all the eggs or larvae in your carpet and throughout your home. This means that if you only use essential oils, you will continue to have a flea problem until all eggs and larvae are destroyed. Consult your veterinarian for the safest and most efficient therapy to get your dog flea-free as soon as possible, especially if you are dealing with an extensive flea infestation.

Don't Use on Cats

Some essential oils have been linked to liver toxicity in cats if ingested orally in large amounts over time. This is why most reputable sources recommend avoiding using essential oils on cats altogether unless absolutely necessary and under the supervision of a veterinarian.

Use Caution

Even essential oils that are generally safe for most dogs could cause further irritation if your dog is sensitive to these ingredients. Your dog is unique, and what works for one dog may not work for another. This applies to all flea medications, both natural and conventional. Observe your dog regardless of what type of flea repellant you use. Watch for any signs of irritation or improvement. If your dog tends to be on the sensitive side, you may want to discuss the topic with a holistic veterinarian to determine which natural treatment options are best.

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Ways to Use Rosemary to Repel Fleas on Your Dog