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 yes, it can but there is more to add to that.
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 in a natural and safe way?
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.
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
- 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.”AVMA News
Kill Fleas and Ticks with DIY Methods
My favorite natural prevention and treatment when it comes to preventing fleas and ticks is coconut oil.
It’s 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 kill 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:
- The thick oil coats the exoskeleton of ticks and fleas, restricting their movement and eventually suffocating them.
- 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 personally 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. Depending on your current need, the form of application will differ but it’s definitely an all-rounder.
Feeding your dog a specific amount of coconut oil daily works great as supportive prevention and also mild treatment.
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
- 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 will probably 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’s 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 on your dog’s coat and gently massage it into the skin until fully moisturized.
Make sure to completely 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 will 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 ticks and fleas are extremely resilient creatures.
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.