We all want what’s best for our pets, and keeping them free of ticks and fleas is a regular duty of pet ownership.
Not only do we want to make sure our dogs (and cats) are comfortable and safe from pest-carried illnesses, but the thought of bugs in our home is just nasty.
While most pet stores carry a variety of products to help keep your dog bug-free, including topical ointments, prescription pills, herbal sprays, and flea collars, are they really safe for your precious pooch?
Why Not Use Flea Treatment and Prevention Products?
You might want to avoid using any harsh products or chemicals on your dog’s sensitive skin or stomach, as there have been numerous reports of topicals and medications poisoning dogs and causing vomiting, seizures, and even worse.
On the other hand, you just can’t stand the smell of herbal sprays or flea collars. Luckily, there’s a safe and effective natural flea treatment, and you probably already have it in your pantry!
Coconut Oil to the Rescue
Coconut oil works differently than most other flea prevention methods.
While some of these treatments enter your dog’s bloodstream and kills pests once they bite, coconut oil actually repels fleas and ticks from your dog’s coat (meaning he doesn’t have to get bitten for the prevention to work).
If there are already parasites on your dog, covering him with coconut oil will also coat the pests, causing them to suffocate and restricting their movement.
Coconut oil contains lauric acid, a fatty acid that has multiple health benefits for animals and humans. However, when coconut oil comes in contact with fleas and ticks, it breaks down their exoskeletons and kills them.
Not only that, but the oil’s natural antiseptic properties help to soothe irritated skin and bites, and adds a glossy sheen to your pup’s coat.
Plus, the scent is very mild and just smells like coconut, so if you or your dog are sensitive to the smell of harsh chemicals or herbal remedies—100%, organic, extra-virgin coconut oil is the way to go.
How to Use Coconut Oil for Fleas?
Coconut oil isn’t only an effective and safe method of pest prevention, but it’s also super easy to use. Here are some of the recommended ways:
1. Coat Your Dog’s Skin
If you know or suspect your dog already has fleas and ticks on him, you can kill the little bugs and stop the infestation in its tracks with a simple coconut oil treatment.
Take a generous scoop of coconut oil (amount will depend on the dogs’ size, but you want enough to totally cover his entire body) and warm it by rubbing between your hands.
Coconut oil in its raw state is hard, so your body heat will help it melt a little for easier spreading. Then, use your hands to rub the oil all over your dog, he will love the attention and massage!
You can wear gloves if you really want, but the coconut oil is perfectly safe and beneficial for your skin, too.
Take extra care to cover the armpits, around the neck, behind the ears, between the toes, and underneath the tail, as these are all places where fleas love to hide. Rub the oil in all the way to the root of your dog’s fur so that it makes contact with the skin.
You can even add a few drops of peppermint, tea tree, lavender, citronella, or lemon essential oil for added treatment benefits and fragrance.
Warning: Please note that cats can be sensitive to some essential oils, so be sure to do your research and check with your vet first.
Leave the oil on your dog for a minimum of 8 hours (you can safely leave it on overnight, but if your dog sleeps in your bed with you, your sheets could get oily) and then wash it off with your regular pet shampoo.
As a bonus, all that oil should leave your hands feeling as soft and silky as your dog’s coat!
For an extra thorough treatment, you can comb through his fur after rinsing, as any remaining ticks should be paralyzed by the oil and will brush out easily.
2. Make a Repellent Spray at Home
You don’t have to wait until your dog already has fleas to use coconut oil. Instead, you can prevent an infestation by making a simple repellant at home.
Simply combine equal parts coconut oil and water, and melt in the microwave or a saucepan over low heat. Add a few drops of lavender essential oil, and allow to cool enough that it’s safe to spray on your dog without re-hardening.
Pour the mixture into a spray bottle (you can get one at a dollar store or most grocery stores) and immediately apply to your dog, avoiding eyes. Just be sure to make this mixture one dose at a time, as it will harden, or store it in a container you can heat up again.
3. Feed Coconut Oil to Your Dog
You can also give coconut oil to your dog orally. In fact, most dogs love the taste, so it shouldn’t be hard to convince them to eat it.
If you want, you can melt equal parts coconut oil and peanut butter and pour into molds (lining a muffin tin with baking cups and filling them only a quarter full would work, too), sprinkle with cinnamon, and freeze to harden.
You can then store these flea-treating treats in the freezer or fridge for up to a week.
But be careful not to give your dog too much, because all that healthy fat could sit heavily on his stomach and cause discomfort (and messes).
Start by giving your pup a pea-sized amount to see how he handles it, and work your way up to no more than 1 teaspoon for every 10 pounds.
The natural antiseptics in coconut oil are great for your dog’s teeth and breath as well, so you’re basically fighting cavities, dog breath, and pests all at once!
Li-ran is the Founder and Executive Editor at PuppyTip. He is a holistic pet parent and believes that dogs can teach us more than we could ever teach them. He also loves cooking, especially for his dog, Richie!