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Since winter weather brings freezing temperatures here in Minnesota, one would think that fleas would not be on my list of concerns.
And, admittedly they usually aren’t.
However, Ginger and Calvin happened upon a wandering opossum in our yard, and the meeting of the three did not end favorably for my opossum friend.
Though I was able to confiscate their prize quickly and easily, I still worried the short contact could result in a flea infestation.
Fleas cannot survive freezing temperatures, but if living on an animal, they can survive comfortably on the warmth and moisture they take from their host.
I do not treat my dogs after the first hard freeze for fleas and ticks, so now I had to decide what to do next: Wait and see if fleas jumped on my dogs or take proactive measures
I know you can purchase topical flea preventative from pet retail stores, but I had just read a study regarding the usefulness of coconut oil on dogs.
One of the points that came up was the effectiveness of virgin coconut oil on both eliminating and preventing flea infestations.
I went in search of more information about the best way to use coconut oil on my dogs.
Is Coconut Oil Safe for Dogs?
My first question when trying anything new with my dogs is, is it safe?
The last thing I want to do is go into something blindly, only to find out that I’ve worsened the issue or created a new one.
I have done a lot of research on using coconut oil, especially as a carrier oil for essential oils, or to attend to small wounds, but I haven’t done a lot with giving coconut to my dogs orally.
What I found out is like all things it comes with a set of risks, such as:
- The fat content can be an issue for overweight dogs or dogs with chronic pancreatitis
- The possibility of an allergic reaction
- The chance of GI upset, some dogs with sensitive stomachs could have adverse reactions such as vomiting or diarrhea
Besides the above risks, there are some concerns regarding the impact coconut oil may have on dogs’ cholesterol levels.
Overall, coconut oil is deemed safe to feed in appropriate amounts, as well as used topically.
What Type of Coconut Oil is Best to Use?
I take it one step further and purchase organic virgin coconut oil, but that is purely a personal preference.
However, according to Dr. Colleen Smith, DVM, CVA, CVCP, from Chattanooga Holistic Animal Institute, when choosing a coconut oil to use medicinally with your dog, it is best to opt for an organic, cold-pressed, virgin coconut oil.
Cold-Pressed coconut oil is purer than refined oil and comes from the fresh coconut meat instead of dehydrated coconut, which is often bleached and deodorized.
How to Use Coconut Oil to Kill Fleas
First, it is essential to know how coconut oil kills and protects against fleas.
Coconut oil has a significant amount of lauric acid, which has many benefits, but as it pertains to this subject, it is responsible for killing fleas.
When consumed or applied topically, the lauric acid changes into a compound called monolaurin, which combats fleas and the infections caused by them.
Virgin coconut oil contains two medium-chain fatty acids, one of which is myristic acid.
Myristic acid is responsible for dissolving the protective wax covering the flea’s exoskeleton, ultimately extinguishing them through dehydration.
- What you will need: Sheet for your dog to stand on (optional), Organic Virgin Coconut oil (OVCO), and a flea comb
- Step 1: Outside or on a large protective sheet, so fleas do not just drop onto your floor, gently massage a small amount of coconut oil into your dog’s skin, being sure to cover their whole body.
- Step 2: Gently run a flea comb through your dog’s hair to remove any fleas and excess OVCO
Homemade OVCO and Essential Oil Spray
The spray works the same as the massage method, but by adding essential oils, you will be adding another layer of flea prevention.
- What you will need: A sheet for your dog to stand on (optional), dark glass spray bottle, an essential oil such as lemongrass, lavender, or peppermint, OVCO, and warm water – (You will need equal parts of water to coconut oil)
- Step 1: Put the coconut oil in the bottle
- Step 2: Add hot water – Not boiling, but at least 76F, which will melt the coconut oil
- Step 3: Add 2-3 drops of essential oil; more if you are making a large batch
- Step 4: Place your dog on the sheet
- Step 5: Spray your dog with the mixture then massage into your dog’s coat and skin
- Step 6: Use a flea comb to remove loose debris
Use in Your Dog’s Shampoo
Putting OVCO in your dog’s shampoo is a very effective way to kill and prevent fleas.
The OVCO kills both on contact as well as penetrating your dog’s skin for longer-lasting effects.
One of the studies I researched used this method and received significant results after just one hour from the time of treatment.
The most effective dilution was a combination of 80% coconut oil and 20% shampoo.
- What you will need: An empty bottle to mix the shampoo and coconut oil, melted coconut oil, favorite dog shampoo, bath towel, bathing area, and flea comb
- Step 1: Melt the coconut oil and add to the bottle (This can be done in the bottle as well, by running the bottle under warm water)
- Step 2: Add shampoo
- Step 3: Mix thoroughly – If the coconut oil begins to solidify, run the sealed container under warm water to melt it
- Step 4: Bathe your dog as you normally would, but allow the shampoo to sit for 15 minutes; yes, I know it’s a long time, but it’s worth it.
- Step 5: Rinse and towel off your dog
- Step 6: Use a flea comb to remove loose debris
Feed it to Your Dog
Feeding your dog coconut oil will help kill and protect against future flea infestations.
According to Dr. Judy Morgan DVM, the suggested amount is 1 tsp per 20 pounds of body weight, twice daily.
It is best to cut the dose in half to start with, then work your way up to the full treatment.
Too much too soon can cause diarrhea.
- What you will need: OVCO and a spoon!
- Step 1: Offer your dog a spoonful of OVCO. If they refuse to eat it plain, you can always melt it and mix it into their food. My dogs love it!
Because I am not a fan of “wait and see if my dogs have fleas”, I used the massage method as well as making up an essential oil spray to get rid of fleas on their beds.
So far, so good, plus the coconut oil has helped to moisturize both their skin and coat.