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.
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. With so many products on the market for pest control, how do you decide which one is best and safest for your precious pooch?
Why Shouldn’t I Use Some Flea Treatment and Prevention Products?
You might want to avoid using any harsh products or chemicals on your dog’s sensitive skin or stomach, but you hate the smell of herbal sprays or flea collars. Plus, there have been numerous reports of topicals and medications poisoning dogs and causing vomiting, seizures, and even worse. Luckily, there’s a safe and effective natural flea treatment, and you might already have it in your pantry!
Coconut Oil to the Rescue
Coconut oil works differently than most other flea prevention methods. While most 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 your dog doesn’t have to get bitten for the prevention to work).
If there are already parasites on your dog, covering your good boy with coconut oil will also coat the pests, causing them to suffocate and restricting their movement. When coconut oil comes in contact with fleas and ticks, it breaks down their exoskeletons and kills them. Coconut oil also contains lauric acid, a fatty acid that has multiple health benefits for animals and humans but works to kill pests.
Not only that, but coconut oil’s natural antiseptic properties soothe irritated skin and bites, and adds a glossy sheen to your pup’s coat. The scent is very mild and just smells like coconut, so if you or your dog are sensitive to the scent of harsh chemicals or herbal remedies, 100 percent, organic, extra-virgin coconut oil is a great solution.
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. There are multiple ways you can use coconut oil for flea treatment and prevention, including:
1. Coating Your Dog to Treat an Existing Infestation
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 size of your dog, but you want enough to totally cover your dog’s entire coat) and warm it by rubbing between your hands. Coconut oil in its raw state is hard, so your body heat will help the coconut oil melt a little for easier spreading. Use your hands to rub the oil all over your dog – he will love the attention and massage! You can wear gloves if you 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.
If you want, you can even add a few drops of peppermint, tea tree, lavender, citronella, or lemon essential oils for added treatment benefits and fragrance. Please note that if you’re using this treatment on a cat, be sure to check with your vet first if essential oils are okay to use, as cats can be sensitive to some essential oils.
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 dog shampoo. 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 your dog’s fur after rinsing, as any remaining ticks should be paralyzed by the oil and will brush out easily.
2. Making a Repellent Spray with Coconut Oil
You don’t have to wait until your dog already has fleas to use coconut oil. 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. Feeding Coconut Oil to Your Dog for Both Treatment and Prevention
You can also give coconut oil to your dog orally. 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 store these flea-treating treats in the freezer or fridge for up to a week.
Just 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 him just a pea-sized amount to see how he handles it, then 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 too, so you’re basically fighting cavities, dog breath, and pests all at once!
And there you have it! 3 ways to use coconut oil to protect your best friend (and home) from fleas and ticks. What are you waiting for? Go get the coconut oil out now!