Natural Bug Repellents For You and Your Pet

There’s nothing like the great outdoors! You and your pets are outside enjoying the fresh air, and along come those pesky, biting creepy-crawlies. How do we protect ourselves and our pets from not only bites from fleas, but the mosquitoes that carry West Nile Virus and the dreaded Lyme’s carried by Ticks! Most mainstream repellents, such as OFF, contain harsh toxins that negatively affect the body – why expose yourself to such things when there are natural bug repellents that are even more effective than the mainstream ones?

Did you know? only female mosquitoes bite (males feed on flower nectar) because they require blood to produce eggs. Their mouth-parts are constructed so that they pierce the skin, literally sucking the blood out. Their saliva lubricates the opening.

What’s So Bad about Mainstream Repellents?

Mainstream repellents usually contain DEET, which is so strong that upon contact, it melts plastic! Who wants this absorbed into their bodies or their pets?

After 30 years of studies, the following adverse health effects of DEET were:

• Impaired brain cell function
• Memory loss
• Seizures
• Hypo-tension
• Nausea and vomiting
• Headaches
• Skin irritation, hives, blistering
• Shortness of breath
• Muscle weakness
• Muscle and joint pain
• Pain, irritation, and watering eyes
• Tremors

Keep in mind that children’s skin and some animals are more absorbent, which makes chemicals exert more potent effects. Pregnant woman should also be very careful applying DEET. Why would we choose to put poison on our skin or that of our pets?


Pet House Keeping – Prevent Lice, Mites and Fleas

Clean your pets bedding regularly; whether it’s a stall, pen, cage, run or kennel.  It would be ideal to have a pen used six months on and six months off.  After cleaning out my chicken coop and dog run I sprinkle Diatomaceous Earth. It truly is a MUST HAVE for any pet owner! I LOVE it!

Also, you can try Rotenone. It is an odorless, colorless, crystalline isoflavone used as a broad-spectrum insecticide, and pesticide.  It occurs naturally in the seeds and stems of several plants, such as the jicama vine plant, and the roots of several members of Fabaceae. It was the first described member of the family of chemical compounds known as rotenoids.

Cayenne pepper tincture in a spray bottle can also be used to fumigate.

Homemade Natural Bug Repellents Using Essential Oils

While Essential Oils (EO) are amazing, they are not our first choice in repellents, a vinegar base is.  Many animals simply can not tolerate EO.  We have provided a couple recipes containing EO for those of you who tolerate well and further below is our vinegar recipe.

Recipe 1 (For Humans)


  • ½ cup witch hazel
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 40 drops essential oils (eucalyptus, lemongrass, citronella, tea tree or rosemary)
  • one 8-ounce glass spray bottle


  1. Mix witch hazel, apple cider vinegar and essential oils in 8-ounce glass spray bottle.
  2. Spray over all portions of the body but avoid repellent in eyes and mouth.

Recipe 2 (For Humans)


  • 30 drops geranium essential oil
  • 20 drops lemon eucalyptus essential oil
  • 20 drops lavender essential oil
  • 10 drops rosemary essential oil
  • 1 Tablespoon vodka or rubbing alcohol
  • 1/2 cup Witch Hazel
  • 1/2 cup water (or vinegar)


  1. Place essential oils in glass spray bottle. Add vodka or alcohol and shake well to combine.
  2. Pour in witch hazel and shake to combine.
  3. Add 1/2 tsp vegetable glycerin if using. This is not necessary but helps everything stay combined.
  4. Add water and shake again. Shake before each use as the oils and water will naturally separate some over time.


Natural Lemon Skin Tonic/Repellent

The following tonic is from our favourite animal herbalist, Juliette de Bairacli-Levy. Much success has been found as a general skin toner, parasite repellent, and treatment for mange.


  • 1 lemon, including peel
  • 1-pint water


  1. Thinly slice a whole lemon, including the peel
  2. Add to a 1-pint of near-boiling water and let it steep overnight
  3. Strain out lemons
  4. Sponge the solution onto the animal’s skin and let it dry. Can be used daily for severe skin problems involving fleas.

Natural Bug Repellents Using Vinegar

Family and Pet Natural Bug Repellent and After Bite Spray!

While the formulas above look great, we have chosen a vinegar-based formula for our furry friends, whose bodies cannot break down certain essential oils. This formula will work for our pets; including dogs, cats, bunnies, horses and even our own family!


  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh lavender flowers
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh mint
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh sage
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh marjoram
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh anise hyssop
  • 4 cloves garlic (peeled and crushed)
  • 1-quart white wine or apple cider vinegar (preferably raw)


  1. Toss herbs and garlic together in a one-quart mason jar, cover with vinegar and allow them to marinate for seven to ten days in a sunny location. After ~6 weeks, strain the vinegar through a fine-mesh sieve into a second, clean glass jar.
  2. Store at room temperature until ready to use, bottle and label.

Cautionary: Sage Contraindications – if you are currently taking diabetes, anticonvulsant or sedative medications.


This specific vinegar composition is said to have been used during Black Plague to prevent the catching of this dreaded disease, yes, this is Four Thieves Vinegar! Other similar types of herbal vinegars have been used as medicine since the time of Hippocrates.

Many herbalists appreciate its antiviral and antibacterial properties. It can also be used as a tincture for various illnesses. The apple cider vinegar on its own is good as a coat conditioner, balance PH, skin toner, good for tendons and ligaments, nail fungus and repels fleas, ticks and mosquitos.

It can also be used as a spray cleansing agent – to clean and sterilize kitchen counters or bathrooms; indeed, many of the herbs possess strong antimicrobial effects and vinegar, in any case, makes an excellent natural cleanser.

This beautiful combination of herbs combines a vibrantly herbaceous and slightly floral concoction to enliven plates of freshly picked salad greens, edible flowers, sweet lettuces and other summer greens. Simply mix with a good quality olive oil in a simple vinaigrette for a delightful salad. It also makes an excellent seasoning for braised meats and vegetables.

Ideal for camping – in one bottle you have a cornucopia of medicinal actions and uses, that’s the beauty of natural medicine!

Vinegar is medicine in its own right! Used to maintain healthy coats and skin; astringent and alkalizing.  Vinegar repels lice and is great as a afterbite. I use it directly in my bath water, it leaves your skin feeling soft and rejuvenated!