Bugs Bugging Your Pets? Here’s 3 All Natural Essential Oils You Can Use To Keep Bugs At Bay!

Bugs Bugging Your Pets? Here’s 3 All Natural Essential Oils You Can Use To Keep Bugs At Bay!

Today, I’m going to show you how you can use essential oils to prevent and deter insects that can bother your pets.

 

With some notable exceptions (which we’ll talk about below), essential oils are safe to use on and around your pets when diluted with a carrier oil, such as coconut oil (on large animals, I’ve been able to put them directly on depending on the situation.)

 

Naturally, when using oils, you want to remember safety first – when in doubt, dilute. Oils are powerful stuff!

 

In this article, we’re going to talk about keeping pet-annoying insects at bay, including:

 

  • Fleas
  • Mites
  • Ticks

 

We’ll cover using oils with dogs, chickens, and large animals.

 

A word about cats: Certain oils, when used in large quantities, can harm our feline friends, so we won’t be including cats in our discussion today. Citrus oils, in particular, are known to cause problems with feline livers, preventing them from functioning correctly.

 

We’ve diffused citrus oils (bergamot, orange) around our two cats a couple times a week, and always give the kitties a chance to leave the room. Our cats have been fine, but I would hesitate to diffuse oils consistently in a closed room with our cats, and I would not personally use citrus oils directly on them either.

 

I recommend you speak to a knowledgeable vet before using any essential oils on your cats.

 

Now, on to the bugs we’ll eliminate today!

 

Get Rid Of Bugs That Bother Your Pets

 

When it comes to fighting bugs and getting rid of bug itchies, lavender essential oil is your best bet. It counters all the insects we’ll discuss, and it’s soothing enough to use. Lavender also promotes healthy skin, so you can use it topically on your pets (diluted with coconut oil).

 

To prevent insects like fleas in your home, you can diffuse lavender as well – and as a bonus, it’ll make your house smell nice (and help you destress….or help your kids stop climbing the walls).

 

Fleas

When someone asks me about preventing insects on their pets with oils, they’re usually thinking of fleas.

 

One summer, we had a TERRIBLE flea infestation in our home. I cannot say how it started….but it started.

 

Lavender was my go to – and after I constantly started diffusing it, lo and behold our infestation stopped. Immediately. What a relief!

 

Preventative Spray

If you want to an all-natural preventative spray you can use regularly on your pets (particularly dogs), then go grab your favorite spray bottle, and fill it with water.

 

Add 2-3 drops of your favorite lavender essential oil (keeping purity in mind  – DON’T buy these on Amazon. Go with an established brand so you know you’re putting only lavender oil on your pet).

 

Shake before using and carefully spray your pet. Avoid eyes, nose, and ears.

 

You can also use this spray on pet beds and blankets. Allow bedding to air dry so your pet doesn’t get the oils in their eyes or noses.

 

Homemade Flea Collar

Commercial flea collars are full of chemicals….so you might not be so crazy about using them on your pets. You CAN make your own all-natural flea collars with oils, though!

 

To make an all-natural flea collar, grab a clean bandana and add 5 drops of oil evenly spread throughout the cloth. Tie the bandana around your dog to prevent fleas. Re-apply the lavender oil every couple of days as needed.

 

Flea Dip

If things have gotten bad enough, you’ll probably want to give your pet a good old fashioned flea dip.  To make a homemade flea dip, you’ll need:

  • Water
  • 1 teaspoon castile soap
  • 2 drops lavender oil

 

Fill your tub with water (I go for “just barely warm” water so I don’t accidentally scald my pets). Add in 2 drops of oil, making sure to keep your pet’s face out of the water. If you don’t think this is possible, then leave the oil out, and use the all-natural preventative bandana after your pet is dry.

 

Rub in the castile soap, making sure to thoroughly coat your pet. Let sit for a couple minutes, if your pet will allow it. You will probably start to see fleas emerging. It’s a slightly-disgusting-but-satisfying feeling.

 

Hose off the castile soap/lavender water mixture. Dry your pet, and use the all-natural flea collar bandana above to prevent fleas from returning.

 

You can also use cedarwood essential oil in addition to or instead of lavender.

 

Mites

Mites are no good for any animal. We once were given a rabbit with such a bad mite infestation in his ears, he could not walk properly (the infection was giving him vertigo). Since then, I try to stay up-to-date on preventing mites. On our farm, we’ve used oils to prevent fleas on dogs, rabbits, and chickens.

 

Dogs

For dogs, lavender oil is a good option (see fleas above).

 

Backyard chickens

To prevent mites in your chicken coop, a peppermint oil coop spray is ideal. To make the peppermint oil coop spray, grab your favorite spray bottle and fill it with 8 oz WHITE vinegar.

 

Add 5-10 drops of peppermint essential oil, and spray liberally around the coop (making sure to get all nooks and crannies). Make sure your flock is out of the area (the oils are safe, but better safe than sorry). You can read more about using peppermint oil in your coop here.

 

For mites ON your chickens, diatomaceous earth is my go-to. You can read about it here. If you want to use oils instead of DE, 1 drop of peppermint diluted in 4 tablespoons coconut oil is my go-to to promote healthy skin. Apply to the area of concern 2-3 times a day, or as needed.

 

Rabbits

For our rabbits that have mite infestations in their ears, we carefully clean the ears so they’re free of build up. We then follow up with 1 drop of lavender diluted in 4 tablespoons of coconut oil (melt the oil then add the drop of lavender).

 

Rub it on the flesh inside the ear, but only the upper portion – NOT inside the ear. Keep the ears clean regularly, and reapply the coconut/lavender oil.

 

Ticks

Once your pets have ticks, you just have to pull them out. To clean the wound, you can use 1 drop oregano oil mixed with 1 tablespoon coconut oil and apply after washing the wound well.

 

To make an all-natural repellent spray, mix 3 drops of lavender in 8 oz of water. Spray liberally before your pet goes outside, making sure to avoid the face, eyes, ears, and nose. You can also use cedarwood.

 

The CDC has even said that these oils are safe essential oils to repel certain insects, ticks included.

3 Ways To Use Rabbit Manure To Improve Your Garden!

3 Ways To Use Rabbit Manure To Improve Your Garden!

As you probably know, we raise rabbits on our homestead, which means we have a LOT of rabbit manure.

 

What you may not know is that rabbit manure is one of the easiest to use, yet super healthy, fertilizers for your garden. In this article, I’m going to show you how to use rabbit poop to improve your harvest.

 

Garden compost made from animal manure does two amazing things for your garden. First, it’s a free byproduct of your animals, so it’ll save money on topsoil and fertilizer. Second, it is a nutrient rich way to help your garden grow and thrive.

 

Why Rabbit Manure?

 

Great question! Unlike other manures which have to be well composted before you can even think of using it in your garden, rabbit poop can be immediately applied to your soil. It won’t burn crops, and can be used as a stand-alone planting medium or mixed with topsoil (although your best bet is to mix it with soil.)

 

As rabbit manure decomposes, it helps build up the structure of the soil, and injects valuable nutrients and organisms into your garden that will promote strong, speedy plant growth.

 

Rabbit manure, in particular, is rich in potassium, nitrogen, zinc, and calcium, and it’s one of the most nitrogen-rich manures out there – so you’ll get lush, green, well-fertilized growth. The potassium will also improve the quality of the fruit your vegetable plant sets.

 

Finally, unlike cow, horse, or pig poop, rabbit manure is odorless – so as you collect it and incorporate it into your garden, your nose (and your neighbors!) will thank you.


Want more awesome gardening tips? Check out my book, Organic By Choice: The (Secret) Rebel’s Guide To Backyard Gardening.

Organic by Choice


How to Use Rabbit Manure In Your Garden

 

First decide on the source of your rabbit manure. If your kids have pet rabbits, have them collect the rabbit’s waste each day. If you already raise bunnies on your homestead, then what are you waiting for? Go start collecting rabbit manure for the garden!

 

Collecting it is relatively easy, and everyone has their own “system.” One of the simplest methods is to place plastic tubs under your rabbits’ cages and dump them out every day (don’t wait on this – flies WILL lay eggs which will hatch into maggots – GROSS.)

 

You can dump them into a compost pile, or directly into your garden. If you haven’t planted anything in your garden yet, then till the rabbit manure to a 2-inch depth.

 

If your garden is already established, then side dress your plants with the manure – it’s usually best to do this as your plants are flowering and setting fruit. They’ll need all the nutrients they can get during that time!

 

If you just got your rabbits, or don’t want to raise any but definitely want to use bunny poop in your garden, then you might also be able to find rabbit manure to buy. Check with neighbors or even Craigslist in your area.

 

How to Make Rabbit Manure Compost

Not everyone is enchanted with the idea of directly applying manure to their garden. That’s ok – you can compost the rabbit poop.

 

To make rabbit manure compost, mix the poop with other compost ingredients that will decompose, such as fruit peelings (like bananas), bits of leftover food, coffee grounds, and grass clippings, and leaves.

 

Add equal parts of wood shavings and straw, then blend all these things (and other kitchen waste) thoroughly, then add enough water to moisten. Be very careful not to completely saturate the compost pile.

 

Cover with a protective tarp and turn every two weeks. If you’re hot composting (which is unlikely with rabbit poop but, hey, stranger things have happened!), then water regularly to maintain heat and humidity levels. Keep adding to the pile and turning and blending it until it fully composts.

 

If you’re cold composting, then simply turn the pile until the manure and other ingredients have turned to sweet-smelling soil.

 

Making Rabbit Manure Tea for A Larger Garden Harvest

 

A third option, other than putting rabbit manure on your garden directly or composting it, is to make a tea fertilizer. Luckily, this is pretty simple.

 

In a 5 gallon bucket, place a burlap bag. Fill the bag about half way with rabbit manure (or however much manure you have on hand), and close it tight with string.

 

Add water to the bucket until the burlap bag is full submerged. Allow your tea to “brew” for 5-7 days, stirring daily. Once the allotted time has passed, simply remove the bag of manure from the bucket.

 

You can use the tea directly on your garden, and compost the rabbit manure, or use it on your garden as well.

 

I’d like to hear from you!

Do you use rabbit manure in your garden? Leave a comment below!

Check Out My Other Rabbit Articles:


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Real Homesteader Stories Episode 3: They Call It A Bird Brain For A Reason + Baby Bunny Update!

Real Homesteader Stories Episode 3: They Call It A Bird Brain For A Reason + Baby Bunny Update!

This week on Real Homesteader Stories, I tell you about our duckling drama & an update on the baby bunnies!

 

It’s been a couple weeks since my last Real Homesteader Stories (TM), and that’s because I’ve finally got the cough that wouldn’t die to go away. BUT I’m back now, with more stories about our farm!

 

Things were interesting as we tried helping a renegade duckling that broke free of the brooder and swallowed a string. You also get to see the baby bunnies (including the fosterlings) up close & personal!

 

(BTW, if you’re wondering, after three weeks of misery, I applied Eucalyptus + Melaleuca daily for 4 days using a roller bottle. Neat, no dilution. Learn more here.)

 

 

 

Raising Rabbits On The Homestead For Beginners

Raising Rabbits On The Homestead For Beginners

Raising rabbits on a homestead for their meat is not for everyone.

 

Realistically, rabbits are usually kept as pets, and it’s hard for some people who haven’t ever butchered rabbits to make that mental shift towards looking at rabbits as a food source.

 

But if you’re looking for a consistent, quick, easy source of lean meat, then raising rabbits are a good option for any homestead.


 

We keep several rabbits on our homestead of varying colors and sizes.

 

They’re easy to care for, have few needs beyond food, water, clean cages, and a little companionship. Rabbits are easy to breed and make hardly any noise, so they’re perfect for an urban homesteader.

 

A Note On Laws

 

Now, first a word about raising rabbits on your homestead. If you plan on raising rabbits on your homestead for their meat, first look at the laws in your state, county, and town. 

 

In some areas of the United States, butchering rabbits for their meat can land you in hot water as our society moves ever further from sustainable farming.

 

In some of areas of the country, rabbits are considered pets and not livestock. Whether you don’t care or don’t agree with the laws, the bottom line is if they exist, you need to know.

 

Lack of understanding by neighbors might cause some unwanted legal drama, so first make sure your area doesn’t have any laws that can land you into trouble. 

 

We’ve all seen social media spin out of control when a human violates local laws regarding pets, and you don’t want to be on the receiving end of that particular hammer.

 

Florida, for example, has laws that protect home butchering. However, I’ve seen many people get in trouble for homesteading when a nosy neighbor decides the animals “aren’t being cared for properly” (read: They object to butchering because they don’t realize that’s how meat is produced).

 

While the homestead owner was right under the eyes of the law, they still had to pay for an attorney and replace their stock after animal control seized their livestock.

 

In Missouri, on the other hand, owners are permitted by law to butcher any animal they own regardless of method. It varies by state. So know your local laws to avoid problems.

 

(As an aside, I’m not an attorney, just a keen observer. Consult an actual attorney about the laws in your area if you start raising rabbits for meat.)
Raising rabbits on your homestead for meat is a great way to have a consistent supply of lean, healthy meat. Rabbits are easy to keep and breed for even a beginner. Here's a look at our rabbits and what you need to know.

Selecting Rabbits

The first decision you’ll have to make when raising rabbits on your homestead is which breeds you want.

 

We raise mostly mixed breed rabbits with Rex, Chinchilla, Wild Rabbit,and New Zealand bloodlines.

 

New Zealand and Rex rabbits are probably the most popular rabbits for raising on a homestead because of their size and easy going natures.

 

In our area, people like to eat wild rabbits in addition to more domesticated breeds so we keep a wild-bred rabbit (one that was from a wild rabbit that was tamed).

 

When you look for rabbits for raising on your homestead, look for healthy animals that are in good flesh and don’t appear ill. You’re best off getting your breeding stock from a reputable dealer who cares about the quality of the animal.

 

If you don’t have much money to spend, then you can still easily acquire rabbits for raising. Four of our rabbits were given to us by someone who just didn’t want them anymore (raising rabbits for meat wasn’t for them).

 

If you feel prepared to give a home to a free rabbit and it appears healthy and able to breed then free is a good way to go. You will still have to feed it regularly, so make sure you’re able to bear that financial responsibility before acquiring free rabbits, however.

 

In this case, patience and time yield favorable results.

 

If you don’t want to wait, however, you can acquire rabbits for as little as $10 with the average price being between $15 and $20. For pedigreed Chinchilla male rabbits, we paid $12 each.

 

Feeding Rabbits You’re Raising

Rabbits require little specialized feeding and a regular ration that you purchase at a feed store will work well.

 

I recommend purchasing 40 lb or 50 lb bags of feed at a feed store. In our area, we can get a 50 lb bag of feed for $10, while at a big box store, they sell 5 or 10 lb bags for the same amount.

 

We offer our rabbits plenty of fresh vegetables too, and they especially love lettuce, cabbage, carrots, and tomatoes.

 

We also provide fresh water in large waterers that you can buy at any pet store or big box store.

 

Housing for Your Rabbits

We keep our rabbits in large cages that we have permanently placed in a greenhouse. The rabbits are able to be outside in the fresh air, but still be out of inclement weather. 

 

Anything is appropriate housing for raising rabbits on a homestead as long as the rabbit has enough room, is out of the elements, has food and water. 

Cages must be cleaned regularly.

 

We use hay and straw as bedding, which the rabbits love because they can nibble on it.

Raising Sustainable Meat With Rabbits

Of course, if your goal is raising rabbits for meat, at some point you will have to breed them.

 

While we won’t get into breeding too much in this article, large rabbits reach maturity at about 7 months of age.

 

Female rabbits have a 30 day gestation cycle, and can have litters of 1-10 kits (baby rabbits are called kits) and the average litter size is 6.

 

Rabbits breed by induced ovulation, meaning when the female is bred, she is then induced to ovulate.

 

The advantage to this is you don’t need to worry about heat cycles and making sure you mate her at just the right time, like you do with other mammals.

 

I recommend breeding rabbits with caution because it is easy to become overwhelmed quickly. We try to breed only 1 rabbit every month or two.

 

We’re raising 8 rabbits as our breeding stock,  so unless we keep a strict schedule, we can easily become overrun with rabbits.

 

Raising rabbits on your homestead as a sustainable source of meat is easy, as long as you keep some of the ideas in this article in mind.

 

I’d like to hear from you!

Are you thinking of raising rabbits on your homestead? Email me or comment below!