By now, we all know the health benefits that come from incorporating coconut oil into our daily lives. Using this healthy fat in our cooking is better than vegetable oils, it works wonders in our beauty routine, and you can even using it to make your own homemade soap! But little did we know that this trendy oil can be just as beneficial for our four-legged friends as it can for us.
That’s right, your dog can have coconut oil, and they can benefit from it, too. But most pet owners probably have a few question when it comes to feeding your dog something new, especially something you probably wouldn’t usually give to your pet.
When feeding your dog coconut oil, the general rule of thumb is one teaspoon per 10 pounds of dog, or one tablespoon for a 30-pound dog. Always start by adding less coconut oil than the recommended dose and build up over the course of a week or two.
The best kind of coconut oil is unrefined, virgin, organic coconut oil. It’s light on taste and smell, typically made from fresh coconuts, and not overly processed; it is important to study the amount of processing that goes into the coconut oil you purchase and go for the less processed option.
But, as always, check with your veterinarian about adding coconut oil to your dog’s diet. Since the safety of coconut oil is undisputed, there is no reason why your vet shouldn’t encourage you to give the right kind to your dog! Here’s nine ways coconut oil can help your pooch inside and out.
Health Benefits To Giving Your Dog Coconut Oil
Here are some ways giving your dog coconut oil regularly can support her health.
- 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 glossyGets rid of doggy odor
- Prevents and treats yeast and fungal infections, including candida
- Disinfects cuts and promotes wound healing
- Applied topically, promotes the healing of cuts, wounds, hot spots, dry skin and hair, bites and stings
- Protects against fleas, ticks and mitesSoothes and heals dry cracked pads and elbow calluses
2. 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
- Expels or kills parasites
3. Immune System
- Contains powerful antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal agents that prevent infection and disease
- May reduce risk of cancer
4. Endocrine/Metabolic System
- Regulates and balances insulin and can help prevent or control diabetes
- Promotes normal thyroid function
- Increases energy and helps reduce weight
5. Musculoskeletal System
- Helps build strong bones
- Eases inflammation and can help with arthritis discomfort
6. 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
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 show 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.
Unlike some other oils which can become toxic when heated, coconut oil is very heat stable, even at high cooking temperatures. Because of its stability, it’s slow to oxidize or turn rancid, and has a storage life of about two years.
What Kind Of Coconut Oil Should You Buy?
Choose Virgin or Extra Virgin coconut oil (they’re the same thing), preferably organic and sold in a glass (not plastic) jar. There’s another form of coconut oil called RBD, meaning refined, bleached and deodorized. It’s best to avoid RBD because it’s been heated and filtered, causing some potential loss of nutrients … but it may be an acceptable solution for dogs who just don’t like the taste of coconut oil, as it has a more neutral flavor.
Coconut oil will usually look white in the jar, but it may liquefy and turn clear on your kitchen counter. Or, if you add it to a smoothie with some frozen fruit, it will solidify fast and you may have little chunks of coconut oil in your smoothie. This is normal and you may see your oil turn to clear liquid and then go back to a white solid state again, depending on your room temperature.
How Much Coconut Oil Should You Give Your Dog?
As a daily supplement, work up to about 1 tsp per 10 lbs of body weight per day. Start with ¼ of this amount to avoid loose stool from the extra oil going through your dog’s digestive system, then increase gradually until you get to the recommended dose.
Note: Because of the essential fatty acids in Omega-3 oils, your dog will still need some Omega-3 oil as well a coconut oil. It’s a good idea to rotate coconut oil on alternate days or at different meals with your choice of Omega-3 oil, so that your dog gets the benefits of both types of oils.
For therapeutic or medicinal purposes, you may need to double the above dosage – but again, work up gradually until your dog’s system adapts to the extra oil in her diet. You might want to consult your holistic vet about the optimal dose for your dog’s size and health condition.
Some dogs love licking coconut oil off the spoon (or your hands!) but others prefer it mixed into food. Adding it to food can also help prevent digestive upset when you first start giving coconut oil to your dog.
Other Ways to Use Coconut Oil:
As A Repellent For Fleas And Other Insects
One little known use of coconut oil is to repel insects like fleas and ticks.It smells pleasant and is completely non-toxic. You can rub it into your dog’s coat before going for a walk in the woods to help repel ticks. Using it like this can also help make your dog’s coat soft and shiny!
To Eliminate Parasites
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. Some people use the dried coconut as well as coconut oil with very effective results.
To Combat Dog’s Yeasty Skin
Herbalist Rita Hogan recommends the following blend to help get rid of yeasty skin:
Coconut Oil Remedy For Yeast
- Let extra virgin coconut oil melt in a small glass bottle holding about 8 oz
- Add 10 drops of lavender essential oil and 2 drops of lemon essential oil
- Shake to mix
- Massage it into your dog’s skin once a week or more often as needed
- This coconut oil mix will last several months. Store it in a dark place.
Cooking With Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is very stable at high temperatures so if you cook or bake treats for your dog, you can substitute it for other oils. If you make dehydrated meat, fruit or veggie treats for your dog, try tossing the raw pieces in a little coconut oil before dehydrating, for an extra flavor and health boost.
What About Other Forms Of Coconut?
You can give your dog the benefit of coconut in other ways too.
If you buy whole coconuts your dog may enjoy eating a piece of coconut meat … or you can save yourself the trouble of cracking open the coconut and buy fresh or dried coconut meat (be sure to get the unsweetened kind). One cup of fresh shredded coconut contains about 2 Tbsp of coconut oil, and a cup of dried shredded coconut equals about 3.5 Tbsp of coconut oil.
This is another good way to give coconut to your dog. One 14 oz can of coconut milk contains about 5 Tbsp of coconut oil. But be careful what you buy … a lot of coconut milks sold in stores have additives like sugar, preservatives and emulsifiers, which you’ll want to avoid. Don’t use the coconut milk beverages in cartons that you’ll find in the refrigerated or dairy sections of the store as they have very little actual coconut milk in them, and lots of added water and sugar instead.
It’s fine to give coconut water regularly to your dog. Again, make sure you’re buying a product with no added sugar or chemicals. Coconut water is also a great natural source of electrolytes. Homeopathic veterinarian Dee Blanco DVM recommends the following mixture to rehydrate your dog if she gets overheated on a summer day:
Rehydration Drink For Dogs
- 1 cup of coconut water
- About ¼ to ½ tsp of sea salt (choose a good quality sea salt like Celtic or Himalayan)
- Add some natural sparkling mineral water like Perrier or San Pellegrino.
- The sparkling water is the important part as the bubbles help get the electrolytes into your dog’s cells more quickly.
- You can syringe the mixture into your dog’s mouth if necessary.
There are many ways you can use coconut oil both as a health supplement and for therapeutic or medicinal purposes. Try it for your dog and observe the improvements in her health!