Summer is the season for BBQs, picnics and alfresco meals. It is also the season for insect bites and many humans shower themselves and their dogs in harmful bug repellent chemicals for protection.
I don’t use any commercial insect (flea, tick, fly etc) preventatives on my dogs. They are highly toxic and harmful. Instead I make my own doggy (great for humans too!) bug repellent and never have issues with flea infestations or other insect bites on my dogs. This natural solution is easy to make, effective and cheap. The addition of apple cider vinegar and witch hazel also helps kill bacteria and nourish skin and fur.
What about insect repellents for humans? Can they be used on dogs? No, most commercial insect repellents are loaded with toxic chemicals, including the pesticide DEET.
Which essential oils repel insects?
Essential oils are very effective for keeping the bugs away. The essential oils with excellent bug repellent properties are:
▪ Geranium/Rose Geranium
I like to use a combination of the above oils but if you wish to ward off only specific insects, the following list will help:
Mosquitos – citronella, eucalyptus, peppermint, lemon, lemongrass, geranium, lavender
Fleas – cedarwood, citronella, eucalyptus, lemongrass, lavender, orange,
Ticks – rose geranium or geranium
1 x Amber glass spray bottle ((you can buy amber glass spray bottles from Ebay, Priceline)
100 drops Essential Oil combination (your choice for e.g. 30 drops lavender, 30 drops geranium, 20 drops Eucalyptus, 20 drops peppermint)
1 Tablespoon vodka (use straight vodka, not one that is infused with flavors or sugar
1/2 cup Witch Hazel
1/2 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Pour apple cider vinegar into spray bottle .
2 Add vodka.
3 Add witch hazel.
4 Add 100 drops of essential oils
5 Shake well to mix.
Spray from head to tail before venturing out. Avoid eyes, wounds and mucous membranes. Pay attention to exposed areas like the belly and ears which may be more vulnerable to insect bites. DIY repellents are effective but apply them regularly as they don’t last as long as commercial repellents.
Note: Shake well before each use as the oils and water will naturally separate over time.
Keep a close eye on your dogs to watch for reactions when first using the spray. Just like humans, dogs may be sensitive to certain essential oils. Avoid those particular oils in future.
Use this anti-bug spray on yourself but be warned; the Apple Cider Vinegar will make you smell initially but the smell disappears when it dries. Off topic: Apple Cider Vinegar is also a great natural deodorant! Use a cotton pad and wipe your pits with ACV. Don't worry about the smell. I promise when it dries, the smell will disappear.