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How to keep insects off your dogs

Approx. 7 minutes read

At last, the summer holidays have arrived, and along with this much-needed respite from a long and difficult year, come braais, chillaxing, lazy afternoons by the pool, picnics in the park, and a lot more time spent with your dog. No matter what you do outdoors this holiday, your furry friend will want to be right by your side.

Unfurtunately, where your dog goes, so too do the pests. But, I mean, just look at your pup – he’s just the most pawfect, most irresistible furry creature to ever exist, so of course the flies, ticks and fleas are going to want to take a bite out of him. Your dog is the snackiest of snacks to a pest. Kudos to your pup, but this is not good news – you’ll want to keep those pests far away!

In this article, we’ll explore how to keep pests and insects off your dog, but also how to deter pests in general to keep things fresh this summer.

Keep flies away from your dog

Flies love dogs almost as much as humans do, except they treat them rather differently. Flies are particularly drawn to dogs’ ears, eyes, noses and mouths – buzzing about and looking for soft, moist places to bite and/or lay their eggs. The danger of fly bites is that they puncture the skin and can cause infection and dermatitis… plus, how annoying for your poor pup!

The best fly repellent for dogs

The quickest way of deterring flies from biting your dog is with a for-purpose fly repellent for dogs, which is a spray-on or topical application that is applied directly to your dog to keep the flies at bay. Some of these products also work very well to keep other pests away, such as mosquitoes and muggies (or midges) as well. Try the following for an effective fly-repellent spray:

  • R134.00 Select options
  • R115.00 Select options

If you want a longer-lasting pest repellent, simply bath your dog and apply this rinse-free foam, which doesn’t contain any insecticides or pesticides. Its dimethicone formula keeps fleas, lice, eggs and pest larva at bay.

  • R168.00 Read more

Some insect-repellent treatments will give you a nice three-in-one solution that deters flies as well as ticks and fleas. However, some of these products come with pretty ‘loud’ warnings about the poisonous ingredients, so we know that some of our pet heroes will want to ‘go the natural route’.

Natural fly repellent for dogs

You might be asking ‘Is vinegar a good fly repellent for dogs?’ and ‘What smell do flies hate?’ to determine which is the best natural fly repellent for dogs. But this is a bit of a catch-22. Flies are drawn to the carbon dioxide released when fruit ferments (and also to the CO2 that mammals exhale – making us a target as well), so vinegar and apple cider vinegar may not be as effective a fly repellent as a for-purpose one.

You’ll see some fly-repelling plants listed below, which may lead some pet heroes to think that essential oils from the same plants will keep flies at bay. BEWARE: Essential oil diffusers may make our homes smell wonderful, but they are very toxic to pets! If you have any doubts, ask your vet how to approach the use of essential oils.

What will keep flies off of a dog?

Some dogs love the ‘breath of fresh air’ of lying next to a fan, which will certainly deter flies mechanically, but unless that fan is solar powered, it’s not going to help him outdoors. There are a few ways to discourage flies from even coming near your property to begin with, which involve you, your dog, your yard and your kitchen. Try these:

Keep your yard clean

From your Sunday braai to your weekly garbage day, you can prevent flies from even wanting to come into your property by doing routine cleaning.

  • Keep your wheelie bin/garbage bin closed, especially if there’s already a garbage bag inside.
  • After the garbage truck has come and gone, spray out your wheelie bin and let it dry properly before wheeling it back into your yard.
  • Don’t let kitchen and garden waste pile up. The rotting scraps of food and plant material can attract flies as well as rodents and other pests.
  • Pick up after your dog on the daily – whether on walks or in your yard. Have a handy poop scoop available to pick up after your dog and dispose of his lawn ornaments immediately with a special poop bin reserved for weekly disposal or with a sewerage drain attachment for easy, immediate disposal.
  • R289.00 Add to cart
  • R289.00 Read more
  • R155.00 Add to cart
  • R155.00 Read more

Keep your home spick and span

Flies are attracted to rich smells. From compost heaps to unsealed garbage bags to used dinner plates waiting to be washed, flies will find their way towards the promise of a bite to eat and/or a place to lay their eggs. If you maintain a regular schedule of cleaning your home, scooping the cat litterbox, keeping toilets and other water inlets/outlets clean and fresh, washing dishes immediately (not leaving leftovers lying out) and wiping down countertops, flies will have no reason to come to your house.

Keep your dog clean

If your dog has an oily coat, unbrushed fur, bad breath and/or mucky ears, he will attract flies. It doesn’t take much to keep your dog fairly clean, however. A twice-weekly brush or rub-down with a grooming mitt, a regular bath, daily teeth cleaning and regular ear check-ups and ear cleaning will ensure he doesn’t attract flies. During grooming, always check for things like hot spots, inflamed skin, or any area on his body that can potentially become a sore, which will also attract flies. A clean, healthy dog is no place for flies!

  • R116.00 Add to cart
  • R110.00 Add to cart
  • R144.00 Add to cart

Keep your dog’s area clean

Just as humans do, dogs leave bits of skin, fur and dirt wherever they spend most of their time. And, just as you would clean your home regularly, you also need to clean your dog’s area regularly to keep it looking good and smelling fresh. Regularly wash your dog’s blankets and bedding, shake out his bed, and leave his bedding in the sunshine to puff up – especially if his pet bed is looking flat and worn. Sunshine, ventilation and a stain remover or fabric deodoriser will help to freshen things up.

  • R240.00 Add to cart
  • R116.00 Add to cart
  • R115.00 Add to cart

Don’t leave dog food in your dog’s bowl all day long. It can go rancid, which has two disadvantages: it’s not good for your dog to eat ‘off’ food, plus it will attract flies. Regularly clean your dog’s food bowl and chuck his toys in the washing machine (where relevant) to keep them clean and fresh.

Keep your dog indoors

… but only for the hottest part of the day. When it’s hot and muggy, flies are most active and would just love a hot, sweaty dog to land on.

Plant bug-repelling plants

Flies are naturally repelled by certain aromatic plants like lavender, basil, mint, bay leaf, tansy and rosemary. Plant these as indoor plants and outdoor shrubs to keep flies at bay. We understand that not everyone has green thumbs and you may want to use an essential oil diffuser to unleash these aromas to repel flies. However, be very careful of diffusers, whose fumes may be toxic to pets, depending on which oil is being used. Always check with your vet before trying a new fly repellent – even natural products can be dangerous for pets.

The best tick repellent for dogs

Unfurtunately, flies aren’t the only pests to keep away from your dogs this summer. Ticks and fleas are a threat to your dog’s health all year ‘round, but they come out in full force in warmer weather. Now is definitely the time to double down on keeping ticks and fleas away from your furry friend.

Tick and flea spot-on works well for dogs who don’t need to bath all that regularly, while tablets and chews are pawfect for those pooches who love swimming and getting up to muttschief outdoors. Just one treatment can last for up to three months (check the packaging for specific information) and your athletic pup can swim as often as he likes while the pest treatment works from the inside out.

  • R145.00R1 011.00 Select options
  • R700.00R1 089.00 Select options
  • R150.00 Select options

Aside from tick and flea preventative treatment, you can keep ticks and fleas away from your dog and out of your house by:

  • vacuuming regularly
  • regularly checking your dog for any signs of ticks and fleas – such as an attached tick or the presence of flea dirt
  • checking yourself for ticks after walking outside, especially in longer grass
  • brushing your dog outside before coming in after a walk
  • sprinkling a bit of flea powder on your dog’s bedding

If you do find a tick on your dog, here’s how to remove it effectively:

If you have a furry friend with a sensitive tummy or skin, the best tick repellent will be an ultrasonic device collar or plug-in. It emits a sound frequency that deters pests and ensures that your pets stay tick and flea free.

  • R1 090.00 Add to cart
  • R1 020.00 Add to cart


Good feeding and hygiene practices are the name of the game when it comes to keeping pests away from your pets. Let these summertime habits stick, all year ‘round, and ensure your pets enjoy a parasite-free life.

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