Skip to Content

How I Use Coconut Oil to Prevent Fleas and Ticks in Dogs

Veterinary reviewed by Dr. Linda Simon.
This post may contain affiliate links. Read more here.

Keeping your dog healthy and happy at all times should be a priority. As soon as the days get warmer and brighter during spring and summer, ticks and fleas start to lurk around every corner.

These bugs are not only nasty but they also carry fatal diseases like Lyme disease or FAD (flea allergy dermatitis).

If your pets get bitten by these pests it also endangers your whole family when they decide to search for a new host.

If you ever wondered if coconut oil kills fleas and repels ticks, I’m here to tell you that it may, but there is more to add to that as it’s not a good choice to rely on that.

While conventional methods may work in repelling ticks, they can also have serious side effects.

Animals are hypersensitive to chemical products and they can cause diarrhea, vomiting, irritations, or even seizures.

So what is the best way to get rid of fleas and ticks naturally and safely?

Disclaimer: This article provides some insight for dog owners who are seeking natural and chemical-free alternatives, but none of these methods are proven to be effective. Speak to your vet about using any of these, possibly in conjunction with conventional methods.

In areas designated as high risk by your local authorities, I would not advise relying solely on natural methods against parasites.

Remove any tick immediately after spotting them and only use natural methods as an additional layer of protection.

Chemical Pesticides Are Not for Pets

Pesticides are extremely harmful to pets and children and should only be applied to surfaces out of their reach. Inhaling the toxins may lead to a variety of problems such as:

  • Respiratory problems
  • Vomiting
  • Skin rashes or irritations (direct contact)

Dogs are far more sensitive and while you might not perceive the chemical smell after a few hours, the toxins are still in the air and your dog’s strong sense of smell will notice them.

Even pesticides that have been labeled as “natural” can cause the same symptoms and are not 100% safe.

While pesticides might be extremely effective in killing pests, they do way more harm than good to pets. Avoid endangering your dog’s health and rather opt for truly natural alternatives.

As lawmakers urge the recall of Seresto collars, some argue that the benefits may outweigh the risks. But the numbers so far paint a concerning picture:

“the number of reports has increased to more than 98,000 and the number of alleged associated pet deaths to 2,500.”


Prevent Fleas and Ticks with DIY Methods

A commonly mentioned natural prevention and treatment when it comes to preventing fleas and ticks is coconut oil.

It’s said to be relatively effective, harmless, and comes with some additional positive side effects like smooth skin and a shiny coat.

Now before you go and apply some coconut oil on your dog and call it a day, I will have to give you a little disclaimer: No method, whether that’s a commercial flea and tick collar or coconut oil, will 100% repel or eliminate pests.

Coconut oil as well as chemical collars can prevent tick bites but your dog will never be completely protected. Nothing replaces thoroughly searching your dog after every walk and taking him to the vet if he shows any signs of illness.

However, let’s get to the question: how does coconut oil work?

There are two main ways in which coconut oil can repel pests:

  1. The thick oil coats the exoskeleton of ticks and fleas, restricting their movement and eventually suffocating them.
  2. Coconut oil contains lauric acid which is a proven repellent for fleas and ticks.

Its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties work wonders in treating bites and infections.

Compared to flea collars or spot-on, coconut oil doesn’t require the parasite to bite into the skin for it to be effective. So the potentially dangerous side effects are reduced.

You will achieve the best results with 100% organic and unrefined coconut oil. I use the Viva Naturals Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil for me and my dog.

If you are interested in learning more about the science behind the claim that coconut oil repels pests, I can refer you to this study from 2018 which states the following:

We report fatty acids derived from coconut oil which are novel, inexpensive, and highly efficacious repellant compounds.

These coconut fatty acids are active against a broad array of blood-sucking arthropods including biting flies, ticks, bed bugs, and mosquitoes.

The medium-chain length fatty acids from C8:0 to C12:0 were found to exhibit the predominant repellent activity.

Better than DEET Repellent Compounds Derived from Coconut Oil

They also found that “Repellency was stronger and with longer residual activity than that of DEET.”

DEET is “the most effective and long-lasting repellent currently available commercially.”

How to Use Coconut Oil

Coconut oil can be used for both prevention and pest treatment. Note: If you spot a tick, you need to remove it ASAP as the danger of transmission increases with the length the tick is attached.

Depending on your current need, the form of application will differ but it’s definitely an all-rounder.

Oral Ingestion

Feeding your dog a specific amount of coconut oil daily may work great as supportive prevention.

Start by giving your dog a pea-sized drop to see if he can easily digest it. Most dogs love the taste of coconut oil but you can make it even tastier by adding honey or cinnamon to the oil.

Slowly build up the amount until you can feed your dog 1 teaspoon per 10 pounds of weight once a day. Make sure to avoid overfeeding as this may cause an upset stomach.

Apart from preventing possible infections due to its anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties, coconut oil is also great for your dog’s:

  • Dental health
  • Immune system
  • Digestion
  • Brain health

It’s a superfood with so many benefits, plus many dogs truly love the taste!

Coconut Oil Flea Bath

If your dog is suffering from a flea infestation, you may want to give him an oil bath.

Start with giving your dog a quick bath to get rid of any dirt by using a gentle, natural dog shampoo.

Dogs with sensitive skin might benefit from a pH-balanced and hyper-allergenic dog shampoo approved by your vet.

Apply a very thick coat of coconut oil while focusing on the armpits, neck and paws and leave it in for about 5-10 minutes (the longer the better). Completely rinse off the mask with warm water and a little drop of shampoo.

Brush out all the paralyzed fleas with a Dog Flea Comb.

Flea baths are very effective but they should only be used sparsely to prevent drying out the skin and fur. Remember to reward your dog with lots of treats throughout the process.

Coconut Oil Repellent Spray

A repellent spray is a quick and easy preventative solution.

Simply melt down the required amount of coconut oil in a microwave or saucepan and add equal parts of water to make a mixture. You can also add a few drops of essential oils like lavender.

Pour the mixture into a spray bottle and the repellent spray is ready to use. Only spray it outdoors to avoid oily spots on the floors and furniture and always cover your dog’s eyes and nose when applying the spray.

Applying On Your Dog’s Skin

If these nasty bugs have already populated your dog’s skin, it may be time for a coconut oil treatment. Take a walnut-sized amount of oil (depending on your dog’s size you might need more) and rub it between your hands until fully melted.

Apply the liquid oil to your dog’s coat and gently massage it into the skin until fully moisturized.

Make sure to cover the entire body and put extra effort into the areas around the neck, behind the ears, and between the paws.

Your dog will smell amazing after this and regular treatment may also help with dry fur and itchy skin.

How Long Do You Leave Coconut Oil On a Dog to Kill Fleas?

After you fully coated your dog’s skin in coconut oil, you will want to leave it in for about 8 hours or even overnight. The longer you leave it in, the better chance it has of suffocating the pests.

You can give your dog a quick bath to get rid of the excessive oil and wash off the dead parasites. Final brushing and combing will ensure your dog’s fur is clean and shiny.

Keep in mind that it’s not a guaranteed fix as fleas are extremely resilient creatures. If your dog suffers from a serious infestation, a trip to the vet will be necessary.

Other Flea and Tick Remedies

I am a big fan of coconut oil but I also like to use other flea and tick remedies once in a while, among them are:

  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Essential oils
  • Flea combs

You can create a repellent spray with vinegar similar to the coconut oil spray by mixing equal parts of water and vinegar.

You can also use diluted essential oils to make a spray or you can add a few drops to your dog’s regular shampoo.

Flea combs are another very safe and easy method and they can be used to evenly spread out any spray.

Recommended Reading: How I clean my dog’s teeth without brushing

How to Protect Your Home From Fleas and Ticks

It is always best to keep your home clean and tidied up. Any dirty hidden places are a perfect nest for fleas and ticks. Regularly wash your dog’s bed, blankets, and toys. Thoroughly vacuum the house.

Keep the grass in the yard mowed and bushes trimmed back.

Always check your pets for fleas and ticks when they come back inside. The most common spots are around the face, chin, neck, armpits, tail, ears and between the toes.

If you are unsure how to remove a tick, watch the video below and use a specially designed tick removal tool.

Pin This:

Disclaimer: This blog post does not substitute veterinary attention and does not intend to do so. I am not a veterinarian or pet nutritionist. If your dog shows any sign of illness, call your vet.

About Danielle

Equipped with 5+ years of expertise as a Rottweiler owner, I partner with licensed veterinarians and trainers to share research-backed and actionable advice for you and your furry friend.


Friday 14th of May 2021

I have tried EVERYTHING and before i read this someone mentioned coconut oil on you tube, IT WORKS! also VACUUM FREQ, STEAM CLEAN EVERYTHING,I bought a canister steam cleaner which is lightweight and an upright steam mop, do this several times a week I have all hard floors with larger area rug, also used my carpet cleaner vaccumer hoover deluxe, it works great, did that twice then steam cleaned twice, reduced the fleas immediately to almoat nothing, as we had outbreak of fleas, I had used an IGR spray but just didnt see a big difference and cant use chemicals like this freq, last nite not one flea on my shih tzu, my havanese had a few compared to 100s so made HUGE progress, it also healed a couple red areas of inflammation,I have tried topical flea treatments, but not only do they NOT work are toxic to pets and the fleas have to bite them for it to work, Now using flea combs and coconut oil I go thru their hair twice a day, at one point I was doing it 3x a day to remove any and all fleas, I bath them once a week with shampoo, any shampoo works if u leave it on long enough, finally feel I have my answer with coconut oil and steam cleaning, vacuuming all will eventually rid the fleas I detest fleas more than any other bug as they cause tapeworms which my shih tzu had I used raw pumpkin seeds, coconut flakes and oil pumpkin and chicken with a bit of fresh garlic and eliminated a tapeworm within 2 days, worked very well, my havanese never had a tapeworm, I have a 4000 sf house and never let my dogs outside in the summer here in florida too many pests and other animals, tons of squirrels in my yard that bring fleas, I have to spray my yard as well I use a 4 gal backpack sprayer and spray everything outside with bug spray also use cedar oil and neem oil to try to keep the creatures away, snakes etc. We live on a huge lake an lots of other animals enjoy the lake around here, USE COCONUT OIL IT WORKS.. I am recently retired RN thank u I promise it works.


Wednesday 26th of August 2020

Hello! I’m currently trying out this method in combination with a monthly preventative (don’t come after me for this). We found about 10 fleas on my fur baby and he was bitten so many times. The excessive biting and scratching made his skin red and had a few sores. The coconut oil seems to bring some relief to him if I can keep him from licking it off of himself. I have not applied it to his sores, although I know coconut oil has antibacterial properties I wasn’t sure if I was going to make the situation worse. Do you think it’s ok to put on sores? Also, is my dog causing himself to have more sores by licking the coconut oil off of his body? I appreciate any advice. Thank you for this information and for the articles to back it up.

Lin McMahin

Monday 27th of May 2024

@Danielle, I put it on my furbaby sites n on my own for that matter bc of the anti microbial tendencies idk about excessive licking my dog does lick bit it still has plenty to help heal as it tends to leave a coating to heal it. I would use it on a few n watch see how it goes that’s what I did n it’s great!


Saturday 29th of August 2020

Hi Jocelyn,

applying coconut oil on your dog's sore should be okay, but if he licks it off, that could worsen the situation so just make sure that he stays away from it right after you're finished.

You can check this article on dry dog skin, there are other tips to keep your dog's skin healthy :).

Preston Odenbrett

Sunday 21st of June 2020

I hope this works, nothing else has


Friday 17th of July 2020

The coconut oil worked for me. It took about 3-4 days before the totally scratching stopped. This also included using the lavender ‘repellent’ paired with brushing through the coat. Going forward I will re-apply as needed.

Also providing the link on tea tree oil. I do strongly recommend vetting any recommendations against published studies. Better still vet against a meta analysis when they are available. A quick google search of “dog” “tea tree oil” and “” turned this up. Or ya know asking your smart device, “hey google is tea tree oil safe for dogs”


Monday 22nd of June 2020

Hey Preston,

combining various methods and thoroughly checking your dog after every walk is your best bet. Hope you'll be able to manage whatever you're dealing with right now :).

Cheers, Danielle


Sunday 21st of June 2020

Hey .. a lot of your facts are true about coconut oil but the part about lavender and tea tree are not .. studies have shown that tea tree is toxic to dogs and cats .. lavender is toxic to cats but not sure about dogs also Manuka honey has been found to be toxic to dogs and cats because it come from the same plant source as tea tree .. I am not a vet but I have seen friends pets affected and harmed from these essential oils


Monday 22nd of June 2020

Hey Jenny,

thanks for your comment. Could you please link to a study that says tea tree oil & manuka honey are generally dangerous for dogs?

Like always, overdosing tea tree oil can be very dangerous (even when you apply it on your own skin, for example), but with the right dose, it should be harmless. However, I've removed tea tree oil since many people seem to ignore the instructions on how much drops to apply on your dog's skin and if given too much, it can definitely be dangerous.

Cheers, Danielle


Friday 7th of February 2020

Thanks for sharing the information. I highly appreciate the valuable information that you bring to us.


Sunday 9th of February 2020

Thanks for your comment Norman!