Coconut oil has become a staple ingredient in everyone's kitchen pantry these days. We cook with it, we put it in our hair and on our skin, but what about coconut oil for dogs? Does your furry friend get the same benefits that you do from this popular and delicious superfood?
Yes! Coconut oil is beneficial for dogs, so long as it's used properly. Coconut oil fed or used improperly can do more harm than good. Let's take a closer look at how to safely use coconut oil to improve your dog's health.
Benefits of Coconut Oil for Dogs
Coconut oil has many practical applications and benefits for pets and people. Let's look at some of the ways that coconut oil can help your dog:
- Brain Food – fat is a great energy source for the brain
- Skin Care – coconut oil helps to condition and moisturize skin and coat
- Weight Management – fat helps slow down digestion so your dog will feel fuller longer
- Cognitive Support – healthy fats support cognitive function in senior dogs
- Dental Care – as a bacteria fighter, coconut oil can improve oral health
- Body Odour – stink comes from bacteria, and coconut oil can deodorize your funky smelling dog
- It's Tasty – dogs love the flavour and scent, so it's a great way to encourage better eating habits
The Problem with Coconut Oil for Dogs
We often see coconut oil touted as a miracle cure for several issues and ailments, and while it does have its benefits, there are some concerns over the use of coconut oil for dogs. The debate over the safety of coconut oil is complicated. Here are two reasons that some experts advise against using coconut oil for dogs:
1. Saturated Fat
Coconut oil is comprised of 80% saturated fat. Saturated fat is the "bad" fat. Its only purpose is to provide energy, but when too much saturated is included in their diet, the excess is stored as fat in the liver.
This can lead to weight gain and poor digestion. Consistently high-fat diets can even lead to problems with their pancreas, like diabetes, and other weight-related issues. Because of its high saturated fat content, coconut oil should only be fed in moderation.
2. Leaky Gut Syndrome
The most abundant fat in coconut oil, Lauric acid, does have anti-fungal, and anti-viral properties, but it may also be linked to inflammation in the gut. This inflammation can lead to a condition called leaky gut syndrome.
The small intestine is the barrier between the digestive system and the circulatory system. Leaky gut syndrome causes this barrier becomes more permeable, allowing bacteria and toxins to sneak into the bloodstream. This can trigger an immune response that is commonly mistaken for allergies.
Though reactions like itchiness and hotspots are more common, digestive issues can also present. Dogs with sensitive digestion may be more susceptible to the potential inflammatory effects of coconut oil, so check with your vet if you have concerns about your dog's digestive health.
Check out this helpful article from Dogsnaturallymagazine.com for more info.
How Much Coconut Oil Can You Feed Your Dog?
Like all things in life, too much of a good thing can be bad, but that doesn't mean that coconut oil isn't safe for dogs. When used properly, it can be very beneficial.
Recommended dosages of coconut oil for dogs varies depending on who you ask. Some recommend a generous portion every day, but considering some of the negative aspects of coconut oil, we think it's best to feed coconut oil a little more conservatively.
½ tsp for every 10 lbs is the standard daily dosage, so this is the top end of how much coconut oil you should feed your dog. To reduce the number of saturated fats, and potential gut inflammation effects of lauric acid, we recommend halving that number, just to get started.
How to Use Coconut Oil for Dogs
There are two ways to use coconut oil - either internally or topically. Both offer different benefits and may help to resolve some minor health issues. As a topical treatment, the risk of saturated fats and inflammation are avoided.
As you learned earlier, feeding coconut oil has many benefits and a few risks. Stick to small dosages, and rotate coconut oil into your dog's diet with other healthy oils like fish oil, hemp seed oil, or flaxseed.
The easiest way to feed coconut oil is in their food, either in its solid or liquid state. For most dogs, a coconut oil topper is a welcomed treat, but you can feed it alone too. Most dogs wouldn't mind licking the flavourful oil right off the spoon.
Another fun way to introduce coconut oil in your dog's routine is by adding it to your favourite frozen dog treat recipe, or check out some of your favourite treats that use the power of coconut oil to support your dog's health:
- Merrick Fresh Kisses Coconut Oil Dental Chews
- Cocotherapy Dog Treats
- Benny Bully's Liver Plus Coconut
- Grandma Lucy's Skin & Coat Pumpkin Pouch
The other way to use coconut oil is to apply it to your dog's skin and coat. This versatile topical treatment can help with a variety of conditions and will moisturize the skin and coat. Here are a few of the reasons you might apply coconut oil to your dog:
- Apply it to a cut or wound to speed up healing time
- Soothe bug bites and hot spots
- Rub on dry or cracked pads, noses, and elbows
- Use it as a lotion for dry skin
- Use it as toothpaste to reduce oral bacteria
Lots of grooming products use coconut oil too. Here are a few of our top picks:
- Tropiclean Lime & Coconut Shed Control Shampoo
- Skout's Honor Prebiotic Pet Balm
- Kin + Kind Hot Spot Relief Stick
Coconut Oil Tips
Coconut oil is a versatile supplement for dogs, but to make sure that you are using coconut oil safely, here are a few tips:
- The first time you feed coconut oil, it may be a fat boost that your dog is not accustomed to getting in his diet. Start with extra small portions and gradually work your way up full doses to mitigate a digestive reaction.
- When using coconut oil for paw protection, it's often best to apply right before a walk. The oil can make your dog slip and slide around the house, especially on smooth surfaces like tile or hardwood.
- Applying coconut oil to wounds and hotspots is soothing and can help to speed healing, but remember that it also tastes and smells delicious. This might encourage your dog to lick an already irritated area. Cover the wound after you apply the coconut oil to allow it to fully absorb.
- Stick to unrefined coconut oil. It should be labelled as virgin, extra virgin or cold-pressed. This means that it is freshly harvested and unbleached or exposed to a heat processing. Here are some brands that we recommend:
Got any coconut oil tips for us? Let us know how you use coconut oil for dogs in the comments below!