Coconut Oil for Dogs
Most of us know about the health benefits of coconut oil (the superfood is almost magical in its many talents) — but did you know that these benefits apply to the pup population, too? Coconut oil for dogs can be an amazing miracle for your dog’s health, but only if used in moderation.
According to Harvard University’s School of Public Health, coconut oil is extremely high in fat. In fact, it’s 100% fat, of which 80-90% is saturated fat. Studies have shown that consumption increases cholesterol, which is not good for heart health. Used topically, however, coconut oil can provide many benefits for both humans and their pets.
If you are going to use coconut oil on your dog read up on the risks, first. You will also need to use the right kind of coconut oil. Unrefined, virgin coconut oil is best as it has the most nutrient absorption.
Is Coconut Oil Good for Dogs? 7 Benefits of Coconut Oil
1. Skin health
It helps clear up a variety of your dog’s skin conditions, including eczema, flea allergies, contact dermatitis, and plain old itchy skin.
My dog suffers from pretty severe dermatitis and skin allergies. On the recommendation of a friend, I started giving a spoonful of coconut oil for my dog with both his meals. Not only does he love it, and not only does it seem to ease his skin irritation, I also noticed that his breath is better and his coat is shinier than I’ve ever seen it. Ridiculously shiny!
2. Coat health
In addition to helping alleviate dry skin, coconut oil is great for your dog’s coat. It’s packed with medium chain fatty acids (also known as medium-chain triglycerides, or MCTs) that moisturize and protect hair proteins. One common MCT is caprylic acid, which treats a variety of skin conditions in humans as well.
Bonus topical benefit: it moisturizes dry skin and cracked paw pads.
3. Boosts the immune system
Coconut oil boosts their immune system. Coconut oil is 40% lauric acid, which is anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial. It promotes thyroid health, too!
Unlike fish oil, coconut oil is odorless. And thanks to those aforementioned anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties, it really does help their bad breath.
At room temperature, most coconut oil is solid, making it easy and non-messy to administer. It’s also the perfect vehicle to give them pills—just press the pill into a small spoonful of oil and watch your dog eat it up.
Dog owners can rub it directly on their skin or cuts to help prevent infection and ease hot spot irritation. Its anti-inflammatory properties also promote wound healing. It’s like nature’s Neosporin!
6. Brain health
Coconut oil boosts your dog’s cognitive function, too! For humans, it improves memory function as well.
Organic virgin coconut oil is (relatively) affordable, especially compared to medications and pet-specific supplements (which, you probably know, are no-joke expensive!).
How Much Coconut Oil Should I Use?
How much coconut oil to give your dog is based on his size. “A good starting dose is ¼ teaspoon daily for small dogs, up 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon daily for big dogs,” says PetMD.
If you have an overweight dog, however, use less or use an alternative to coconut oil in order to avoid the side effect of weight gain because of its high fat content.
You can give your dog coconut oil spooned from the jar, put it in your dog’s food at mealtime, or use it as a base for baking dog treats. You could even put it in a dog puzzle for some interactive fun that will keep your dog occupied.
As mentioned, while coconut oil is generally safe when used topically, there are some risks to consider when used orally because of how high it is in saturated fat.
In addition, the ASPCA warns that giving too much coconut oil to your dog could cause diarrhea, loose stools, and stomach upset. PetMD also warns that some dogs can get an allergic reaction or even pancreatitis.
Coconut Oil Alternatives
If your dog has a bad reaction to coconut oil or you’d rather not take the risk, salmon oil is a great alternative. It provides many of the same benefits as coconut oil and is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. Other healthy alternatives include hemp oil, flaxseed oil, and olive oil.
Talk to your veterinarian before adding any of these oils to your dog’s diet.
Bottom Line: Use Coconut Oil Sparingly, If At All
Like with anything your pup’s never tried before, you’ll want to start with small amounts and work your way up.
Coconut oil for dogs can be a natural and wonderful little health hack to add to your routine, but as always, consult your veterinarian before adding new things to your dog’s diet.
Have other natural pet health hacks? Let us hear them!