Keeping your dog healthy and happy at all times should be a priority. But when 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.
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?
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 respiratory problems and vomiting while getting into direct contact with these chemicals may result in skin rashes and irritations.
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.
What Can Kill Fleas and Ticks?
My favorite prevention and treatment when it comes to killing fleas and ticks is coconut oil. It’s extremely effective, harmless and comes with some additional positive side effects like smooth skin and a shiny coat.
But how does coconut oil work? There are two main ways in which coconut oil repels pests. One way includes the ingredient lauric acid which is capable of breaking down the exoskeleton of a parasite resulting in death.
The thick oil that is applied to your dog’s fur will also coat the tick or flea to restrict their movement and suffocate them. Its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties work wonders in treating bites and infections.
Compared to flea collars or spot-ons, coconut oil doesn’t require the parasite to bite into the skin for it to be effective. So the dangerous side effects of possible illnesses are eliminated.
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.
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 you can definitely utilize all of them.
Feeding your dog a specific amount of coconut oil daily works great as prevention and also supports 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 not overfeed him to prevent any stomach upset.
Apart from killing the fleas and ticks from the inside, coconut oil is also great for your dog’s dental health, immune system, digestion, brain health and much more. It’s a superfood with so many benefits and your dog will truly love it!
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, pH-balanced and hyper allergenic dog shampoo like the Pro Pet Works Shampoo Plus Conditioner.
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 the Safari 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 or tea tree oil.
Pour the mixture into a spray bottle and the repellent spray is ready to use. Only spray it outdoors to avoid oily spots of 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 or less) 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 his entire body and put an 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 to overnight. The longer you leave it in, the better it will work in killing pests.
You can give your dog a quick bath to get rid of the excessive oil and to wash off the dead parasites. Final brushing and combing will leave your dog’s fur clean and shiny.
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. My second favorite is vinegar and you can create a repellent spray 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.
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 and 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.