Coconut oil is extremely popular these days, with consumption up 40% year on year since 2010. With many people using it for everything from cooking oil to skin moisturizer (and even for some medicinal purposes), the question on our mind is with so many supplements should we be giving it to our dog as well as ourselves?
The answer is yes, and no. Like most food supplements you get what you pay for, so as always make sure to spend a bit more to get the better quality oil. So why Coconut Oil and what can it do for your dog?
Although supplements can be a confusing topic for many dog owners, you probably know about the benefits of feeding Omega-3 oils like fish, krill or flaxseed oils to your dog. These oils contain essential fatty acids, which, as the name indicates, are essential to your dog’s health. But other oils also support your dog’s health and coconut oil is one of them. The fats in coconut oil are considered “conditionally essential,” meaning that at under certain circumstances (such as during pregnancy and early growth) they are essential. Coconut Oil is not an Omega-3 oil but it still has many health benefits for your dog.
Coconut oil is a superfood
Coconut oil consists of more than 90% saturated fats. All fats and oils are composed of triglycerides. Coconut oil is composed primarily of Lauric acid (48%). Lauric acid which, along with its siblings; Caprylic, Decanoic, Myristic, Palmitic and Oleic acids, forms a group of good fats known as medium chain triglycerides (MCTs,) and these are why coconut oil is classed as a superfood. Lauric acid is the superstar MCT though as you will only find this fatty acid in such quantities in coconuts or breast milk. Lauric acid has also been known to treat viral infections, swine and avian flu and herpes. It is also used for preventing the transmission of HIV from mothers to children. It’s an exceptionally good thing.
According to Dr Bruce Fife, certified nutritionist and naturopathic doctor and president of the Coconut Research Center, coconut oil also gently elevates the metabolism, provides a higher level of energy and vitality, protects you from illness, and speeds healing. As a bonus, coconut oil improves any dog’s skin and coat, helps with digestion, and reduces allergic reactions.
So why haven’t we always eaten it? Well, like everyone else in the West we avoided saturated fats for years, now we are simply playing catch up with India and South East Asia who have been growing and consuming coconut for millennia. So where do you start using this for your dog?
The 8 benefits of coconut oil for your dog
Clears up skin conditions such as eczema, flea allergies, contact dermatitis and itchy skin
Reduces allergic reactions and improves skin health
Makes coats sleek and glossy
Gets rid of doggy odor
Prevents and treats yeast and fungal infections, including candida
Disinfects cuts and wounds; helps soothe cracked pads elbow calluses -promotes healing
Promotes healing of Hot Spots (especially when mixed with Tumeric)
Helps with dry skin and hair, bites and stings
3. Digestive System
Improves digestion and nutrient absorption
Aids healing of digestive disorders like inflammatory bowel syndrome and colitis
Reduces or eliminates bad breath in dogs
4. Immune System
Contains powerful antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal agents that help prevent infection and disease
May reduce risk of cancer
5. Endocrine/Metabolic System
Regulates and balances insulin and can help prevent or control diabetes
Promotes normal thyroid function
Increases energy and helps reduce weight
6. Musculoskeletal System
7. Brain, Eyes, Ears and Mouth
Promotes good nerve and brain function and prevents dementia
Helps clear up ear and eye infections (let it melt and then use as eye drops, and also use topically in the ears)
Improves oral health and can be used to clean teeth
8. As a Repellent for Fleas and other insects
Repel insects like fleas and ticks (you can rub it into your dog’s coat before going for a walk in the woods to help repel ticks)
- dried, unsweetened coconut meat (from 1 or 2 Tbsp to ¼ cup added to food, depending on your dog’s size) has long been recommended as a safe, natural treatment to eliminate intestinal worms. But now there are reports that coconut oil can also have the same effect.
Pet owners who started giving their pets coconut oil as a supplement have reported seeing worms coming out in their animals’ stools.
How much coconut oil should I feed my dog?
Start gradually at ¼ tsp per day and build up. Work up to 1tsp per 10kg of bodyweight up to a maximum of 3tsp per day.
Then go by what works for your dog. If you discover oily stools then reduce the amount fed. If your dog is overweight reduce the amount by half. Then see how it goes for a couple of weeks and adjust accordingly. If your dog won’t eat it try hiding it in some tasty dog treats
Is Coconut Oil Safe For Dogs?
Dr Bruce Fife, author of Coconut Therapy For Pets, says that coconut oil is extremely safe for all kinds of animals, from dogs to cats to birds, rabbits, guinea pigs as well as cows and horses. Research shows that coconut oil is well tolerated, even in toxicity studies where researchers fed huge amounts of coconut oil to animals. If your dog got into a whole jar of coconut oil, he’d probably just get a bout of loose stool or diarrhea.
Caution: Despite the safety of coconut oil, if your dog has a health condition, it’s best to check with your holistic vet before adding any new supplements, including coconut oil.
Now that you know the benefits of Coconut Oil, what should you look for:
1. Look for cold pressed, virgin coconut oil.
2. Avoid oil labelled simply coconut oil, it will be refined
3. Don’t bother with ‘liquid’ coconut oil. It’s had the very thing which makes it ‘super’ removed.
4. Don’t bother with labels that state their oil is made using non-GM coconuts – all coconuts are non-GM, it’s a marketing ploy.
5. Always read the label