Extracted from the Peppermint plant, (scientifically known as mentha x piperita), Peppermint essential oil has gained popularity over the last decade as a natural remedy and healthy alternative for many household and medical issues. It has been proven to improve hair growth by stimulating the scalp, improve digestion and even get rid of many insects and household pets such as spiders, rodents and rats. In recent times however, many have been lamenting that this oil can also be used as a flea repellent on dogs, but is this true? Let’s take a more in depth look at peppermint oil, and make an educated and informed decision.
The History of Peppermint Oil
Dating back to seventeenth century England, peppermint finds its origins as a hybrid of both the water mint and the spearmint, and was most popularly used for digestive issues. Based on its efficacy, the news of this plant spread to other nations rapidly, and it soon became known all over Western Europe for helping and curing many medical ailments including but not limited to:
- Morning sickness
- Menstrual pain
- Indigestion and colitis
- Respiratory Infections
Once popularly known and cultivated in Europe, the plant continued to become even more popular in other parts of the world, and today, the peppermint plant is properly known, cultivated and used worldwide.
Peppermint Oil as a Flea Repellent
Many health conscious dog owners have begun to look to more natural remedies to prevent fleas, instead of the toxic chemicals that they are used to. Peppermint oil enters the mix as a strong contender, as it is already proven to be a natural bug repellent, getting rid of major nuisances such as spiders. The issue however lies in whether or not it will be effective on your pup, and its safety. One major point to also consider is that dogs tend to be more sensitive than humans in general, so the initial application of peppermint oil will be sure to cause much more discomfort on them than it will on humans. Now the question is, will it work?
Essential oils are very potent as they are normally immensely concentrated for the full benefit of the oil to be realised. This means that peppermint oil may not be safe to be directly applied to the fur of your pup, as it may cause irritation and other issues, especially if they have naturally sensitive skin. Peppermint Oil however has proven however to repel many insects, therefore it may be useful in preventing fleas rather than getting rid of them. It would be best to use peppermint oil as a repellent, to prevent fleas from attaching to your pup in the first place, rather than as a cure to get rid of fleas that are already there. This is the best way to use this oil for fleas.
In order to use the Peppermint Oil as a repellent however, it is best to either dilute the product or make a mixture of oils for the safety of your pup. Here are some natural peppermint oil mixtures that you can make at home.
DIY Peppermint Oil Flea Repellent Spray
This standard mixture can be made at home, and adjusted to fit the needs and size of your dog, based on your results. Feel free to adjust the ingredients based on what your dog needs, and the ingredients that are best for your pup.
- ¼ cup of filtered water
- ¼ cup of witch hazel
- 3 – 5 drops of peppermint essential oil
- 5 drops of rosemary essential oil
- 5 drops of lavender essential oil
Add all the ingredients in a spray bottle and shake well until all the particles are dissolved. Do not stop shaking unless all particles have been dissolved. When using on your pet, stay at least 6 inches away from their fur, and be sure not to spray around sensitive areas such as around the eyes or near the ears.
Other Factors impacting your Peppermint Oil Spray
The size of your dog is critical when making your repellent spray, as the recipes listed above should be adjusted to fit your pup’s requirements. For smaller dogs such as toy and teacup pups, be sure to use less peppermint oil drops, (3 to 5 drops should be sufficient) and for larger and more full grown pups, you can use more drops but it is best to begin with the same amount and slowly increase as your dog gets more acquainted with this spray. It is also important to note that for each drop of peppermint oil, there should be 4 to 5 drops of the diluting agent of choice, as to balance the mixture in an 80:20 ratio, with 80% being the diluting agent of the mixture, and the remaining 20% being the peppermint oil.
Be sure to remember that dog do not communicate in the same way as humans do, therefore you need to be able to read their cries for help based on their behaviour. If your dog constantly whining, itching and scratching himself after the spray has been applied, you may need to alter the ingredients to include less of the peppermint oil until they are comfortable. Any excessive sniffing, itching or uneasiness may be a cry for help, so be sure to observe and adjust accordingly.
Another important factor is to gradually increase your pup to essential oils. This may give a better result than attempting to start the whole process right away. Begin with one drop of essential oil and ninety percent water or non harmful organic content, and work your way up until both you and your pup become comfortable with this formula. Remember that no two dogs are the same, and even though they may be very similar, what works for one may not work for the other.
Ultimately, peppermint oil does help to prevent fleas, but the effectiveness of this solution depends greatly on how you use it. The choice is yours to make, but always consult with your vet before using any essential oils on your dog.