Summer – the perfect time for our dear animal companions to play outside. My dog Fritzi loves to roll around and jump through the high grass fields and unfortunatelly brings back home a lot of unwelcome friends – mainly ticks and sometimes fleas.
The problem with presrcibed flea and tick protection
For a long time now, we’ve been using “Frontline”, a vet recommended flea and tick protection. But as it happens so often, you don’t realize how bad something is until you inform yourself. And when I did, I found out, that a lot of those vet recommended tick and flea treatments are in fact dangerous for dogs.
The active ingredients in Frontline might supposedly produce cancer, organ damage, nervous system damage, reproductive damage and skin problems. It was clear for me that I wanted to find an alternative to this chemical cocktail. Nevertheless, not protecting my dog against fleas and ticks was not an option either, since it is known that they can pass on diseases which might lead to death in some cases.
Which natural flea and tick repellents don’t work or are unsafe for your pet?
On my research I came across different natural insect repellents like garlic, cedar oil, eucalyptus, and neem oil. I read in different forums about them but not everybody shared the same opinions. One thing that became clear was, that garlic is a no-go for dogs, because they function like poison for the animal, if eaten in large doses.
Essential oils were discussed very controversial too. Some say they help perfectly and their animals didn’t mind them either, others find them to be too agressive and that their animals felt bothered by the smell or even showed allergic reactions to them. I never tried essential oils on my dog, but I can imagine that their strong smells would also bother him a lot. After all, his favorite “Au de Toilette” is the smell of mud pits and bird poop! So, strong essential oils weren’t a good option either.
The best natural flea and tick protection: coconut oil
After a couple of hours of research in the world wide web, I finally found something that would be so helpful and awesome that I need to write a post about it: All you need, to scare the ticks and fleas away, is coconut oil!
I was more than surprised that this insect repellent still seems to be a secret among dog guardians. After all, maybe not that surprising, because the pharma industry is earning millions with their medication and wouldn’t like the fact that there might be a much cheaper and natural insect repellent.
In fact, coconut oil is not only cheap and natural, it also has a neutral scent and is healthy for the dog and its fur. I didn’t read about any negative experiences and the only disadvantages seem to be that your dogs fur might look a bit wet wherever you apply the oil and that you have to apply the oil every day, but with all the advantages, I really don’t mind this.
This is how it works:
The tick and flea repellent component of coconut oil is “lauric acid”, so it is important to use a pure and unprocessed product. Regular coconut oil from the supermarket works just fine, but the greener option would of course be an organic coconut oil.
I rub about half a teaspoon (or even less) of coconut oil in my hand palms until it becomes liquid (takes seconds) and then apply it on my dogs higher and lower back, on the lower legs and the stomach. In the beginning I applied the fat before every walk, but now I found that it’s enough if I do it 1-2 times a day. Fritzi hasn’t had any ticks or fleas since I use the coconut fat and that’s an even better result than the results we had with Frontline! Oh, how I love to find out about secrets like this one! : )
HAPPY DOG! HAPPY TIME!
It would be interesting to know what kind of experiences you made with insect repellents. Have you tried any natural repellents before? If you like, share your experience in the comments below.
UPDATE 4/15/2013: I’ve been getting a lot of great feedback of people who successfully tried coconut oil on their dogs and even cats. Here is a helpful tip from one of the readers: “I also boiled 1/2c of coconut oil with 1c water in a sauce pan then put it in a spray bottle and spritz it on the bed and we’ve had no more bites. I thought your readers might like to know that trick too!”
Update 5/8/2014: I’ve been using this coconut oil method for 3 years now and I’m still so happy with it! Our dogs have ticks so rarely, it’s unbelievable! And they didn’t have any fleas at all. I try to spread the word as much as I can and hope that this blog post inspires many more people. Thank you also for all your wonderful comments and feedback. I love hearing from you!
Update 11/21/2019: While this blogpost only speaks about preventing ticks and fleas, you might wonder what you could actually do when it’s too late? Well, ticks can simply be pulled off the pet but fleas in the home are a completely different story. If you’re interested how to get rid of fleas the natural way, without chemicals, make sure to check out our Youtube video on this topic: