Fleas are blood-sucking insects that feed on the skin of their hosts. They can cause severe itching, hair loss, and even anaemia in extreme cases. While there are many treatments available to kill these pests, some dog owners worry about using certain chemicals around their pets for fear of side effects. One such chemical is an insecticide (such as permethrin). There has been a lot of debate over whether peppermint oil is effective at killing fleas or not. This blog post will explore this question further by discussing what studies have found thus far about the effectiveness of peppermint oil against flea infestation with dogs.
What Is Peppermint Oil??
Peppermint oil comes from the peppermint plant, a cross between water mint and spearmint. The main component of the oil is menthol, which gives it its characteristic minty smell and taste ( 1 ). You can buy peppermint oil as a supplement to support digestive health ( 2 ). It's also used as an insecticide because it contains neurotoxins that affect an insect's nervous system, making them unable to move ( 3 ).
Is Peppermint Oil Safe for Pets?
As a potentially dangerous neurotoxin, peppermint oil is not safe for pets and can be toxic if ingested ( 4 ). The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center warns that dogs ingesting peppermint oil can suffer from low blood pressure and respiratory distress. The organization suggests consulting with a veterinarian immediately after such an incident ( 5 ).
Effects on Fleas: What Does The Research Say?
There has been a lot of debate over whether peppermint oil can kill fleas, despite various studies suggesting it can. However, these studies were conducted in the 1950s and 1960s - so what does current research say about this essential oil? Does Peppermint Oil Kill Fleas? One such study was carried out by researchers from Colorado State University. The team exposed adult cat fleas to either water or peppermint oil. They found that the fleas exposed to peppermint oil had a significant drop in fecundity, which means they laid fewer eggs ( 6 ). Other studies have reported similar results, showing that peppermint oil has insecticidal properties against several types of insects, including head lice, body lice, and fleas ( 7, 8 ).
Does Peppermint Oil Kill Fleas?
Actually, peppermint oil does not kill fleas; it only repels them for between 24 to 48 hours. There have been a few studies done on the effectiveness of peppermint oil as a treatment for flea infestation in dogs. In one study involving six beagles, the dogs were orally administered 0.7 mL of peppermint oil daily for 30 days. At the end of this period, there was no difference between the number of fleas found on the treated and untreated animals ( 4 ). However, another study involving 20 beagles found that three months after being given a dose of 0.5 mL of peppermint oil, the treated dogs were less infested with fleas than untreated dogs. In addition, there were fewer flea larvae and pupae found among the treated animals ( 5 ).
In a nutshell, peppermint oil doesn't appear to be an effective treatment for killing adult fleas. However, it may be effective in preventing infestation with the next generation of fleas.
Peppermint Flea & Tick Spray For Dogs
There's nothing worse than seeing your pooch scratching and looking miserable. To avoid this, many people turn to topical treatments or shampoos with insecticidal properties. These products usually contain fipronil, pyrethrin, permethrin, imidacloprid, selamectin and other ingredients.
However, if you prefer a natural approach or want to avoid harsh chemicals, there may be an alternative for you: peppermint oil flea spray. Does Peppermint Oil Kill Fleas? There's no firm evidence that this spray will kill adult fleas; however, there is some evidence that it can kill flea larvae and keep your pet from becoming reinfested.
To make the spray, add 10 drops of peppermint oil to a spray bottle containing 1 cup of water and shake well ( 9 ). Apply the mixture by spraying on your dog's coat and brushing through before leaving him outside for 30 minutes. Peppermint oil kills flea larvae and only repels adult fleas for about 24-48 hours, so make sure you reapply it daily if needed
Peppermint oil does not kill adult fleas. However, it might be able to keep your pet from getting reinfested with larvae and may also repel adult fleas for up to 48 hours.
Read more: Fleas in Puppies and Dogs