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Can Coconut Oil Kill a Dog’s Fleas?

large malamute laying on the grass panting and looking at the camera

When looking for flea control, you will find an array of options that can fit your pet's needs. Though there are several effective flea treatments on the market, some pet owners prefer a more natural approach when getting rid of fleas. Which leads us to the big question, “Can coconut oil kill a dog’s fleas?”

In this article, we’ll discuss the benefits of coconut oil for flea control, and how to administer it for the greatest effect.

Symptoms of Fleas on Dogs

Fleas can cause a number of concerning symptoms once they make themselves at home in your dog’s fur. Some of these symptoms include:

  • Itching and scratching: The feeling of fleas crawling around your dog’s skin can be extremely irritating, leading to their need to constantly itch and scratch their skin. Fleas can also cause flea dermatitis, which is a skin reaction to the presence of fleas. These dogs will become incredibly itchy, and you may even see redness and irritation on the skin.
  • Biting and gnawing: When it comes to relieving their itchiness, dogs only have their nails and their teeth. Because of this, you will often see dogs gnawing and biting at their skin in an effort to relieve their itching.
  • Flea dirt: Fleas leave behind wastes that look like pepper grounds or flakes of dirt. You will often see flea dirt right as the base of their fur as you comb through your dog’s hair.

Serious Complications of a Flea Infestation:

  • Sores on the skin: Due to the constant scratching and biting that a flea's presence will cause, dogs often get sores on their skin. These sores are typically called hot spots and are created by the constant scratching, biting, and licking of irritated areas on the skin. These sores are not only painful but can become infected. 
  • Pale gums: In severe cases of a flea infestation, some dogs will experience pale gums due to the amount of blood that is being consumed by fleas on their body. Fleas are a nuisance, but if left untreated they can lead to severe anemia and flea-borne disease.
  • Weakness: Severe cases of flea infestation can lead to weakness and lethargy due to severe anemias or exposure to flea-borne disease.

If your dog is experiencing sores on the skin, pale gums, or weakness, make sure you see your vet ASAP. Treating the fleas at this point will not resolve a skin infection or severe anemia that was already created, so it’s best to see your veterinarian for proper treatment. 

How Did My Dog Get Fleas?

brown german shorthaired pointer running through grass

When it comes to learning about fleas and their prevention, it’s important to realize that fleas can be present in any outdoor setting. Even the most well-kept yard can carry fleas, especially in warm climates.

The most common places that dogs acquire fleas include:

  • Your yard
  • Dog parks
  • Dog kennels
  • Playing with other dogs

Fleas are known to hitch a ride on your dog at any given opportunity, so even short trips to the dog park or to public outdoor settings can result in your dog getting fleas.

If and when you do find any signs of fleas, it is highly advised that you properly discard or clean any furniture that your dog has access to, such as your pet’s bedding, couches, and so on.

Can Coconut Oil Get Rid of Fleas?

Coconut oil works to kill fleas by the lauric acid that’s present within the coconut. When the lauric acid comes in contact with the flea, the flea's exoskeleton is covered in the oil making it impossible for the flea to move. This ultimately results in the flea's death. The lauric acid kills the fleas within 20 seconds, so it is a quick fix for a minor flea problem.

Aside from its flea repelling abilities is the use of coconut oil for other skin conditions as well. Coconut oil is also antimicrobial and antifungal, meaning it can help to fight off bacteria and fungus on the skin.

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How Do You Use Coconut Oil?

There are a few ways to administer coconut oil in a safe way for use on your pet.

  1. One of the most common ways is by simply coating your hands with coconut oil (to the point where it’s runny) and massaging your hands through your dog’s fur. Begin with a small amount, a dime sized clump can make a good amount of oil. Make sure to cover each area including behind the ears, between the toes, and any other area that fleas can hide. They love to hide in damp and dark places!
  2. Another effective way to coat your dog’s skin is by creating a coconut oil spray. Fill a spray bottle with about two tablespoons of coconut oil and 30 ml of warm water. The warm water will melt into the coconut oil, creating a spray that’s evenly distributed. Once you spray your dog’s fur with your coconut oil creation, you can further distribute the oil by massaging your hands through their fur.
  3. While coconut oil is only proven to kill fleas on contact, ingestion of coconut oil can have other health benefits.By taking 1 teaspoon per 20 lbs of body weight twice daily, you can improve your dog’s coat health, skin health, improve gut health, and in some cases even aid in weight loss.

CBD can improve the attitude of your pet when they are dealing with fleas. CBD won't make the fleas go away, but it can help alleviate some of the symptoms and make your dog less anxious or stressed about the fleas. A treatment of CBD as well as applying coconut oil can help make the process of getting rid of fleas a less stressful experience, as well as reduce the inflammation from your dog scratching.

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Alternatives To Coconut Oil

While coconut oil has an impressive ability to fight off a number of skin invaders, there are other natural oils that can stand up to bacteria and invaders as well. These alternatives include:

  • Neem oil
  • Lemongrass (an essential oil) needs to be paired with a carrier oil like olive oil
  • Rose geranium Oil

Each of these oils is known to repel several insects including fleas and ticks. When searching for natural flea collars, you will often find each of these ingredients listed. Some people create a concoction of lemongrass and rose geranium oil, and put one drop behind each shoulder, behind the ears, and at the base of the tail.

Other Alternatives

If you find that your furry friend has fleas, there are a few other options that can assist you in your effort to kill these unwanted pests.

  • Dawn dish soap: Dawn dish soap is used in veterinary clinics as the first line of defense against a flea infestation. Dawn dish soap kills fleas on contact, so you bathing your dog using Dawn, you can quickly eliminate each living flea.
  • Flea combs: While flea combs won’t necessarily help you remove living fleas, they can help you remove dead fleas and flea dirt that has accumulated on your pet, consider consistent grooming to help get rid of the fleas.
  • Flea collars and flea prevention: There are always multiple options for flea control in the form of collars and liquid applications. Make sure to discuss each of these options with your vet before use, as you want to make sure your chosen product is safe before use.

Fleas are a nuisance, but they don’t have to cause your canine companion any unnecessary stress. By checking them regularly for fleas and implementing a flea protocol, you can protect your pup from any flea irritation.

Meet the Author

Amber LaRock Author of Doberman Breed Guide

Amber LaRock

Vet Tech & Trainer

Amber is a Licensed Vet Tech with a degree in Veterinary Technology. Recently she has specialized in veterinary and animal-related content creation and social media management. When she is not working she loves spending time with her furry friends exploring the outdoors.

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