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Can Dogs Eat Coconut Oil? Is Coconut Oil Good or Bad for Dogs?

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
What happens if a dog eats coconut oil? Can coconut oil upset a dog's stomach? Read on to discover if coconut oil is safe for your Fido or not.

Coconut oil has become very popular in recent years. It’s healthy and humans can benefit from it in many ways.

Scientists claim that this plant oil can boost the immune system, speed up weight loss, and even act as an anti-fungal.

Some claim that coconut oil can even improve cognitive skills in patients with Alzheimer’s. It also serves as an effective moisturizer and lip balm.

Now, dog owners are asking: Is coconut oil beneficial to dogs?

The short answer is – yes, but very carefully. Here is why, how you should serve it to your canine, and when you should avoid serving it.

Coconut Oil And Dogs

Coconut oil is harvested from the coconut plant and basically comes from the meat of coconuts. This oil contains at least 90% saturated fats, most of which are Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs).

Now, scientists still argue from time to time whether MCTs are good fat for us or not, but the majority of them still claim that MCTs are good fats and provide several benefits. On top of that, they are a great source of fuel and energy.

The MCTs components include lauric acid, which is antibacterial and anti-fungal.

Other components are capric acid and caprylic acid, which are known for their anti-fungal effects.

According to Dogs Naturally Magazine, MCTs are quickly metabolized to provide energy.

Benefits Of Coconut Oil For Dogs

As mentioned earlier, the main benefits of coconut oil for dogs include weight loss and improved metabolic function.

Next to that, some of the main benefits include:

  • Eliminating doggy odor
  • Helping with treating hot spot, bites, and stings
  • Treating itchy and dry skin
  • Reducing coughing
  • Eliminating hairballs
  • Supports digestion
  • Heals digestive disorders
  • Improves brain energy
  • Improves mental function in older dogs
  • Improves damaged skin
  • Reduces allergens

Can Treat Your Dog’s Skin Issues

This is the number one benefit, and very common practice. The positive effects include antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.

One study even found that coconut oil hydrates the skin. However, it’s important to note that this study was conducted on humans, not dogs.

Still, many dog experts, scientists, and veterinarians claim that coconut oil can help treat dry skin and eczema in dogs when applied.

Improve The Appearance Of Your Dog’s Fur

To improve the dog’s fur, you should apply coconut oil to the skin. This way your dog’s fur will be shinier and less prone to damage. The reason for this is found in lauric acid.

Lauric acid is the main fatty acid in coconut oil and has a unique chemical compound that allows it to easily penetrate hair shafts.

Coconut Oil May Help Fight Off Pests

The coconut oil has great antimicrobial effects that may help coconut oil prevent dogs from being infected by ectoparasites, such as fleas, mites, and ticks.

Two studies confirmed that coconut oil helps eliminate these pests in dogs, even in those who have already been infected.

In these studies, shampoo made with coconut oil was used.

In one of these studies, coconut oil also appeared to facilitate wound healing in dogs with ectoparasite bites.

Plus, coconut oil has also been shown to kill viruses and bacteria. On top of that coconut oil maybe even beneficial for treating bites.

Are There Any Risks?

You know that drinking too much water isn’t good for you right? The same applies to dogs. No matter what food or exercise may be good, if you overdo it, it can lead to negative results.

So, there are few things that you should consider before using coconut oil on your dog.

First of all, there is always a risk of an allergic reaction when introducing something new to your dog’s diet and grooming needs.

If your dog is used to commercial food, switching him to raw food diet won’t be easy, and should never be done without consulting your veterinarian first.

Since there is always a risk of allergies, or even your dog being allergic to coconut, you should start small and monitor your dog’s reaction closely.

Some studies have shown that coconut oil can cause high cholesterol in dogs, and even cause fatty plaques to develop in the arteries, in extreme cases.

Plus, coconut oil has high-calorie content and using it too often and in bulks can lead to weight gain and eventually obesity.

One study shows that a diet high in saturated fat reduces dogs’ scent-detecting abilities.

No one knows everything about dogs and coconut oil and more studies and research is needed to understand better this finding, so until everything on coconut oil – dog relation is 100% is clear, use coconut oil with caution.

If you notice any sign of an allergic reaction, contact your veterinarian.

In fact, it would be smart to consult your veterinarian before adding coconut oil to your dog’s diet or even apply it to your dog’s fur. That’s what responsible ownership is all about, thinking in advance, planning, and reacting.

How To Use Coconut Oil On Dogs

Coconut oil is generally safe for dogs when used in extremely small amounts and from time to time. When thinking about brands, always go for the healthier option possible.

Virgin coconut oil is a great choice because most of the coconut’s benefits have been noticed with this type of coconut oil.

Feeding your dog regularly on the same schedule is everything, and providing the best food possible, because they thrive on high-quality foods.

Learn which human foods are safe for your dog, and which one you should avoid.

So, when presenting something new to your dog’s diet, start small, although some recommend mixing coconut oil with your dog’s food twice per day. The amount you give your dog will depend on its size.

If your dog suffers from obesity or is overweight you don’t want to serve him coconut oil more than once per day.

Start by giving 1/4 teaspoon to small dogs or 1 tablespoon (15 mL) daily to big dogs and slowly increase the amount.

Monitor your dog’s reaction for two weeks, and once you are sure that everything is ok, and that he has no strange reactions you may increase the dose to 1 teaspoon per 10 pounds (5 mL per 4.5 kg) of body weight.

Since more research has to be conducted, these recommendations are not established. Never feed your dog only on coconut oil, but always mix it with the dog’s regular food.

This way dog’s diet will vary and be more nutrient-dense. Monitor your dog’s weight as soon as you start with coconut oil intake.

Monitor your canine carefully for any sign of diarrhea, weight gain, and any other symptom that may show intolerance.

Important: keep in mind that studies haven’t revealed any benefits of using coconut oil in dog foods.

On the other hand, you can use coconut oil to apply on a dog’s skin: rub a small amount onto your hands and gently place and run on the dog’s coat, running your fingers through the fur. Massage oil until your hands are almost dry.

Brush Your Dog’s Teeth With Coconut Oil

As a dog owner, you know that dog’s teeth are what matters when it comes to Fido’s health.

When determining the dog’s age or dog’s overall health, veterinarians will always go for the teeth. Thanks to teets and gums, veterinarians can determine just how old or healthy the dog is.

Keeping your dog’s teeth and gums in proper order is actually investing in his health and longer life.

If your dog isn’t a fan of teeth brushing, and you maintain his teeth by serving the best teeth foods, coconut oil can serve you well.

Coconut oil’s antimicrobial properties make it a natural way to clean your pet’s teeth.

Even a small amount of oil can help you eliminate harmful bacteria in your dog’s mouth and even prevent plaque that can lead to dental disease.

How to apply it? Apply it to your dog’s teeth the same way you would a commercial dog toothpaste.

Make sure that you use a dog-friendly toothbrush or even your finger. Not sure if your dog would like to feel your finger messing with his teeth? Don’t do it, to avoid any possible accidents, and focus on a proper toothbrush.

The Bottom Line

Research on using coconut oil for pets is still missing. The benefits are more anecdotal than real. Moreover, findings are mostly conducted on humans, instead of on pets, so every piece of information should be taken with a dose of skepticism.

Still, so far there are isn’t hard evidence on negative effects on dogs, but you should still take it carefully, and start step by step with small amounts. At the end of the day, it’s up to you.

It all comes down to personal preferences. Using coconut oil on your dog has a few potential benefits and might be worth trying. Have potential risks on your mind, which is why you should monitor your dog’s health.

If you have any worries about your dog’s health or nutrition talk to your veterinarian.