Looking for an alternative to traditional flea treatments and herbal sprays? Luckily, there’s a safe and effective natural flea repellant, and you probably already have it in your pantry! Here’s how you can use coconut oil for fleas on your dog and get rid of those pesky critters for good.
Are flea and tick preventatives safe?
While most pet stores carry a variety of products to help keep your dog bug-free, including topical ointments, prescription pills, and flea collars, many of these products can be extremely toxic, causing liver damage, skin irritation, and other long-term effects.
According to CBC news, owners should exercise extreme caution when choosing a flea treatment for their pets, as there have been numerous reports of topicals poisoning dogs and cats.
Coconut oil to the rescue
The idea that coconut oil may be a good flea repellent has been discussed in the media recently, but can it actually be used to keep fleas away?
Coconut oil works differently than most other flea prevention methods. While some of these treatments enter your dog’s bloodstream and kill pests once they bite, coconut oil actually repels fleas from your dog’s coat (meaning they don’t have to get bitten for the prevention to work).
If there are already parasites on your dog, covering them with coconut oil will also coat the pests, restricting their movement and causing them to suffocate.
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, 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 add a glossy sheen to your pup’s coat. Also, 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, 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.
That said, it’s important to note that coconut oil alone is not likely to be enough to deal with a flea infestation, so it’s best used in combination with other treatments such as vacuuming and steaming the carpets, washing all of your dog’s bedding and toys, and brushing your dog with a flea comb.
1. Coat your dog’s skin
If you know or suspect your dog already has fleas on them, 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 dog’s size, but you want enough to totally cover their 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. They 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 also add a few drops of lavender, citronella, or lemon essential oil for added treatment benefits and fragrance.
- 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.
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 your dog’s fur after rinsing, as any remaining fleas 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 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 their stomach and cause discomfort (and messes). Start by giving your pup a pea-sized amount to see how they handle 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!
Coconut oil can be a great natural flea repellent. It can be applied directly to your dog’s skin or fur or added to their diet. In addition to its potential flea-fighting benefits, it also offers some nutrients that are beneficial for skin health.
However, coconut oil should always be used as part of an integrated pest management plan that includes vacuuming and washing pet bedding regularly and using a flea comb.
With its low cost and easy availability, it’s definitely worth giving coconut oil a try.