Castor oil is pressed from castor beans. It has been used for many purposes over the years but recently has found favor with dog owners as a natural remedy for several types of skin issues and ailments.
How Is Castor Oil Used?
Castor oil should never be given orally to your dog. It will cause a nasty case of diarrhea if you do. Small amounts of it can be ingested should your dog at it. Ideally, castor oil is applied topically and rubbed into the skin.
Castor oil is loaded with linoleic acid, making it very good for skin health. It is a moisturizer that compares to many chemically designed lotions on the shelf at stores, but it is completely natural.
Castor oil is thick which makes it a bit easier to handle and it can be mixed with other natural oils, like almond oil, for an even more beneficial effect. Castor oil is generally very safe although there are sometimes allergic reactions to it. This is rare.
If you have dogs that itch and have dry, flaking skin, castor oil can help alleviate the chronic itch which leads to scratching that can be a nuisance for you and miserable for them. When they itch, they will lick until they have open sores, called hotspots. These are red and sometimes weeping sores that happen as a result of constant licking, chewing and scratching.
Some people like to use Benadryl for allergies with dogs, but this can have the side-effect of drowsiness that makes your dog want to sleep all the time. Some dogs have an opposite reaction and get quite hyper when given Benadryl. Either reason can justify trying castor oil on their skin directly instead.
Dog owners claim many uses for castor oil. Some of the benefits of castor oil they claim are:
- Castor oil can strengthen the immune system of dogs.
- It relieves fungal infections of the skin.
- Reduces inflammation in the skin.
- Moisturizes the skin and reduces irritations ( such as hotspots).
- Keeps fur coat clean and repels ticks and fleas.
- Soothes skin allergies.
Castor oil has antibacterial properties which help to alleviate skin irritations caused by fungal infections. It has very little smell and can be mixed with almond oil to give it a pleasant smell.
Castor oil also has analgesic properties, which means that it can work to ease irritations and pain associated with skin issues. This can be from boils, blisters, rashes, hot spots, and flea bites.
It is said that castor oil can be a flea deterrent. For dog owners, this is a big deal. The only methods of flea and tick control are typically laced with chemicals that not all dogs tolerate well. Some dogs break-out into blisters from flea drops and have severe reactions that can even be neurological.
For these reasons, pet owners shy away from using the drops and seek more natural methods of flea control. Castor oil may work for you?
Castor oil appears to be completely safe for dogs unless they prove to be sensitive to it in particular. This is a rare reaction. Still, when using castor oil the first time, you should monitor your dog closely for any side-effects to make sure they tolerate it without reactions.
You should only use castor oil that is cold-pressed and hexane-free. A food grade castor oil is preferable. Don’t use cheap substitutes and products that are not labeled properly. Organic products are always preferable.
Cancer and Castor Oil
There are claims that say castor oil applied to skin tumors can shrink them. In fact, it is said that castor oil can be applied to benign skin growths and skin tags to remove them. The oil reduces the size of the growths and tumors with regular applications over the course of several treatments.
When you apply castor oil to skin growths, it can cause the growth to open and ooze or even bleed. Keep an eye on bleeding because excessive bleeding can lead to anemia and also indicate other issues.
Allow the drainage and you may apply the oil to the area up to twice daily. Keep the area especially clean if there are any eruptions of the skin that happen. Allow the toxins to drain freely, keeping the area covered and clean.
Castor oil can also be applied to warts. Warts will shrink in size as castor oil is applied directly to them, up to twice daily until the wart is gone.
Additional Benefits for Castor Oil for Dogs
Castor oil is full of essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. These all help to stimulate the skin cells to stay hydrated, heal from fungal infections and promote the growth of new, healthy fur. If your dog has patchy skin from flea allergies and dermatitis, try giving castor oil a try.
Try mixing castor oil with olive oil for the best skin benefits. Most skin issues that dogs are plagued by are caused by bugs and environmental factors. Ticks, fleas, mosquito bites, and dust and pollen are major contributors to a dog’s skin problems.
Mixing olive oil with castor oil and massaging it directly into their skin and coat can help alleviate these issues better than most products on the market that cost far more and are laced with chemicals and fragrances – additives that can actually create more issues for them.
Have you ever used a product to relieve itching only to find that they seem to scratch even more? Sometimes products that are used on already irritated skin can cause skin eruptions, burning, and painful sores.
While the olive oil will work to rehydrate the skin and work as a humectant, castor oil will work to combat the bacterial issues that are the root of the infections and allergies.
Do Dogs Have a Lot of Skin Allergy Problems?
Some breeds of dogs are especially prone to skin issues. Some dogs that spend more time outdoors are prone to skin irritants. Dogs can have reactions to poison ivy and poison oak. They also are bitten by bugs when they are outdoors. Just like humans, bites from bugs will cause itching. When they scratch, they can spread infections and make things much worse in short order.
Genetic issues can sometimes be the root cause. Beagles are a breed that seems to have extreme allergy issues that manifest as itching skin and stinky ears. Stinky ears can have chronic infections that are typically from yeast overgrowth. Using castor oil can help get these things under control. A drop or two of oil directly in their ear when they have black, foul-smelling ear wax will help gain control of the yeast that causes these infections. Some dog owners also regularly clean their dog’s ears with apple cider vinegar with some degree of success in warding off ear infections.
Mange is a chronic condition in some dogs. There are two types of mange – sarcoptic and demodectic mange. One is hereditary and the other is not. Mange is often seen in pups and it tends to be transferred to them from the mother.
Demodectic mange is caused by skin mites and all dogs have mites but the problem is when the mites grow out of control. Castor oil is very good at clearing this up because the mites hate the oil. They don’t like anything about the castor oil so two applications of the oil each day can help to clear it up. This is less costly than using ivermectin, which is the other usual treatment, from the veterinarian. Ivermectin is not safe for all dogs and there is some risk in using it.
Sarcoptic mange is also caused by a mite but it can be environmental and not always transferred from mother. Sarcoptic mange is highly contagious and can be easily passed from one do to the other. Castor oil should work for this application as well.
Puppies and adult dogs with mange will lose their hair, the skin will become dry and crusty, sometimes with oozing sores that appear. Mange is painful and uncomfortable for all dogs. If you have a dog with mange, it should be kept away from others until a vet does a skin scraping to determine which type of mange the dog has.
Humans can get skin mites and we actually do have mites that live on our skin at all times. It’s a gross fact of life. We have a symbiotic relationship with mites most of the time, as long as they don’t become out of control.
Castor oil can be a safe and effective tool for both dogs and humans and in humans, it has been used as a powerful laxative for many generations. It will have the same effect on dogs and should not be fed to them under any circumstances. A small amount consumed through licking at skin applications will not hurt them.
This gives you many ideas for how castor oil can be used in your household, particularly for your dog. Remember to only use food grade, organic oil.
Dawn Greer is a passionate blogger and animal rights activist. She is a pet lover, certified dog trainer, behavior consultant, pet nutritionist, and former veterinary technician. She continues her work while writing blogs for pet lovers around the globe.