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Coconut Oil for Fleas on Dogs: Can It Kill Fleas?

This is not medical advice. For medical advice regarding pets, see your veterinarian.

Coconut oil has many uses for dogs, including treating fleas. It is considered safe and is very well tolerated by pets. If you use too much coconut oil, your dog may develop diarrhea.

Coconut oil is very popular nowadays. Many of us use coconut oil as a cosmetic or for cooking. 

But did you know that this oil has many benefits for pets too?

You can use it both internally and externally for your dog, including for the treatment and prevention of fleas.

In this article, you will find out more information about coconut oil for fleas on dogs, if coconut oil is safe for dogs, how to use coconut oil to kill fleas and more.

How Do I Know My Dog Has Fleas?

Itching, scratching, licking, or biting at various areas of its body can mean your dog has fleas. You can also notice small red bumps on your pet’s skin.

Before using coconut oil against fleas, you need to make sure your dog has fleas to begin with.

Not all dogs react the same way when they have fleas. Some scratch excessively, while others are allergic to flea saliva, developing dangerous allergies. If you notice your dog is itching and scratching more often than usual until it causes skin lesions, or you see it biting its fur angrily, it most likely has fleas.

You may also notice flea dirt (droppings) on your dog’s fur, which looks like black dots.

Allergic dermatitis is a common medical condition caused to dogs by fleas. This disease occurs as a result of the body’s exposure to flea saliva for long periods.

Here are the most common symptoms of flea allergic dermatitis in dogs:

  • Intense itching
  • Self-mutilation
  • Excessive scratching, chewing, biting, and licking themselves
  • Hair loss
  • Skin rash
  • The appearance of dirty fur that is given by flea feces

Related: Flea Bite Pet Allergies

Dog Still Itching After Flea and Tick Treatment

Symptoms of Fleas on Dogs

Fleas can hide anywhere on the body, especially if your dog has thick fur. To make it easier for you to find out where fleas are hiding on your dog, here are the places they prefer:

  • At the base of the tail
  • Ears
  • Feet
  • Neck
  • Abdomen

If your dog has fleas, you can notice the following symptoms:

  • Intense itching and scratching
  • Biting at various areas of the body
  • Automutilation
  • Small red bumps
  • Scabbing or redness
  • Skin sores
  • Flea droppings in your dog’s fur
  • Restless behavior

Related: Flea Bites on Dogs: Identification & Symptoms

Is Coconut Oil Safe for Dogs?

Coconut oil is safe for dogs, but don’t feed your pet too much as it can develop various gastrointestinal problems, including diarrhea. Always talk to your vet before giving your dog coconut oil or any other products.

Coconut oil contains high amounts of vitamin E, polyphenols, fatty acids, and other compounds.[1]

It has a composition of about 90% fatty acids:[2]

  • Caprylic acid 8%
  • Capric acid 7%
  • Lauric acid 49%
  • Myristic acid 8%
  • Palmitic acid 8%
  • Stearic acid 2%
  • Oleic acid 6%
  • Linoleic acid 2%

The main benefits of coconut oil can be attributed to the presence of medium-chain fatty acids which include lauric acid, capric acid, and caprylic acid. These are antimicrobial agents with high efficacy against many viruses, fungi, and bacteria. They work by disintegrating the cellular walls of pathogens.

Because coconut oil is full of nutrients and dietary bioactive compounds, it can be used not only in pets but also in horses and cattle.

In dogs, coconut oil can be applied both internally and externally (topically). 

Is Coconut Oil Safe for Dogs

The benefits coconut oil has in dogs if given orally are:

  • Improving and eliminating bad breath
  • Improving arthritis or other joint and ligament problems
  • Helping with weight control
  • Helping with body odor
  • Improving the immune system
  • Improving nutrient absorption
  • Helps with fungal infections
  • Reduces allergic reactions
  • It can be used to prepare treats
  • Helps with digestion
  • Helps with proper nerve and brain function

Benefits of topically applied coconut oil in pets:

  • Helps with dry skin and prevents dandruff
  • Helps maintain healthy skin and shiny fur
  • Helps with fleas
  • Soothes irritated areas
  • It is very good at treating cuts and wounds
  • Can be used as a conditioner for your pet’s fur
  • Helps treat skin lesions, such as burns and frostbite
  • It can also be used as toothpaste

Can I Use Coconut Oil to Kill Fleas on My Dog?

Yes, you can use coconut oil to kill fleas on your dog. The lauric acid in coconut oil can help kill and repel fleas. Coconut oil can also be used to soothe your dog’s irritated skin from flea bites.

If your dog has fleas and you are a fan of organic products, you can try using coconut oil to get rid of them. Rub some coconut oil into your dog’s fur, especially in the areas where fleas like to hide.

Once the fleas are covered in coconut oil, they can no longer move, leading to death by suffocation.[3]  In addition to killing fleas, coconut oil is also used as a repellent against them. 

Fleas can detect the lauric acid in coconut oil, which makes them avoid a pet that has coconut oil rubbed on its fur and skin.

Can I Use Coconut Oil to Kill Fleas on My Dog

How to Apply Coconut Oil as a Natural Flea Repellent?

There are several ways to apply coconut oil to your dog, but the most commonly used is to rub it into your pet’s fur and skin.

If you have decided to use coconut oil on your dog to get rid of fleas, make sure you use virgin, unrefined coconut oil as it is the most effective against fleas.

There are several ways to apply coconut oil to your dog’s fur.

Massage Your Dog’s Fur With Coconut Oil as Such

  1. Cover your hands with coconut oil and massage your dog’s fur generously.
  2. Make sure you cover each area with coconut oil, especially where fleas like to hide, including behind the ears and between the toes.
  3. Leave it on for a few hours or overnight, then wash your dog with its usual shampoo and rinse thoroughly.
  4. You can apply coconut oil to its fur every few days to keep fleas away.

Coconut Oil Spray Mixture

  1. Fill a spray bottle with 30 ml of warm water and two tablespoons of coconut oil and mix well.
  2. Spray the content all over your dog’s body and massage it into your pet’s fur.
  3. If you think your dog’s fur is too greasy after a few hours, wash it with its usual shampoo.
  4. Repeat as needed.
Antiparasitic spray for pets

What Are Other Alternatives to Kill Fleas on My Dog?

Other methods of killing fleas are using Dawn dish soap or classic antiparasitic substances. Unlike veterinary products, Dawn dish soap only gets rid of fleas when applied but does not prevent them.

If your dog has fleas and you don’t have coconut oil in your home, you can try using other products:

Related: Can Tea Tree Oil Kill Fleas on Dogs?

Dawn Dish Soap

Dawn dish soap, although considered safe for pets, has several contraindications:

  • Do not use it too often, as it dries out the skin and can lead to increased epidermal irritation.[4]
  • Do not use it if your dog has bacterial or fungal dermatitis.
  • Make sure your dog does not ingest the product as it may become intoxicated.

Dawn dish soap is not toxic when applied externally and is commonly used to remove fleas.

How to use Dawn dish soap to kill fleas:

  1. Use ¼ cup of Dawn dish soap for medium-large breeds.
  2. Massage it well into your pet’s fur.
  3. Let it sit for a maximum of five minutes.
  4. Rinse your dog thoroughly.
  5. Use once every three weeks at max.

Using soap does not prevent future infestations. For prevention, use antiparasitic products.

How to Kill Fleas With Dawn Dish soap

If your dog has ingested dish soap, you may notice the following symptoms:[5]

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lack of appetite
  • Burns or lesions in the mouth
  • Hypersalivation
  • Disorientation
  • Hair loss
  • Eye irritations
  • Skin irritation
  • Swollen abdomen
  • Muscle weakness
  • Seizures
  • Collapse
  • Death if you don’t intervene in time

Flea Combs

You cannot kill fleas with a flea comb, but this tool can help remove fleas (dead or alive), eggs, and flea droppings.

Comb your dog’s fur from head to tail. The flea comb can pick flea eggs, droppings, or fleas. Immerse every flea you find stuck in the teeth of the comb in soapy water to kill it.

Soapy water compromises their exoskeleton and causes them to sink, effectively drowning them.

dog Flea Combs

Best Way to Kill and Prevent Fleas

The best way to kill and prevent fleas is to use antiparasitic products. Whether you choose natural antiparasitic products or pesticides, they are the best in killing and preventing fleas, ticks, mites, mosquitoes, and other external parasites in pets.

The products you can use to prevent fleas from infesting your dog are:

  • Spot-on pipettes
  • Collars
  • Sprays
  • Powders
  • Shampoos
  • Chewable tablets

Most topical products can be applied at home without the help of a vet. They take effect in a maximum of 48 hours after application and have an efficacy of four weeks to eight months, depending on the product.

No matter what type of product you choose, make sure your dog doesn’t ingest it as it can cause poisoning

If your pet shows any symptoms of poisoning contact your vet as soon as possible. The sooner the poisoning is treated, the better your dog’s chances of survival.

Conclusion

Most antiparasitic products contain harsh substances, which can have a negative impact on your dog’s health. Fortunately, there are some natural remedies with which you can try to get rid of fleas, and one of them is using coconut oil.

Coconut oil has many benefits for your pet, including treating and preventing fleas.

To kill and prevent fleas, you can use coconut oil as such or mixed with warm water and spray it on your dog’s fur. In both cases, massage the oil well into your pet’s fur and skin.

For any questions or clarifications, always contact your veterinarian.

FAQs

Does Coconut Oil Get Rid of Fleas on Dogs?

Yes, coconut oil can help dogs get rid of fleas. You can massage it into your pet’s fur as it is or dilute it with water.

Do I Have to Rinse Coconut Oil off My Dog?

You can leave the coconut oil on your dog’s fur for a few hours or overnight. Always rinse as it can clog pores and cause your dog unwanted skin problems.

About Iulia Mihai (DVM)

Dr. Iulia is a certified veterinarian with more than 10 years of experience in the field. With extensive knowledge of diet, care, and medication, she helps Misfit Animals provide readers with accurate knowledge on technical topics.