While the scent of coconut oil may be enough to trigger thoughts of warm, tropical breezes this versatile fat source may have many other health benefits. There is evidence that it is beneficial for both humans and dogs. How do you use it to get the most bang for your buck?
The Science Behind Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is made from coconut meat that is harvested from the coconut palm. It consists of at least 90% saturated fats, most of which are Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs).
If you subscribe to the theory that there are good fats and bad fats, MCTs are considered “good” fat and can provide several benefits, including being a source of fuel and energy.
Components of MCTs:
- Lauric acid - which is antibacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral
- Capric acid and caprylic acid - which are known for their anti-fungal effects
- Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids
According to Dr. Bruce Fife, certified nutritionist and naturopathic doctor and president of the Coconut Research Center, “coconut oil 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, improves digestion, and reduces allergic reactions.”
Benefits of Coconut Oil for Dogs
When used topically coconut oil has many benefits for your dog’s skin and coat. These include:
- Clears up skin conditions including dermatitis and eczema
- Promotes the healing of wounds
- Moisturizes cracked paw pads and calluses
- Prevents fleas, ticks, and mites
When taken orally there are benefits to your dog’s digestive system. These include:
- Improved digestion
- Improved absorption of key nutrients
- Speeds healing of digestive disorders including ulcerative colitis
- Kills parasites that may be lingering in your dog’s gut
- Breath aid: Helps reduce stinky breath
- Regulates insulin and can help with the control or prevention of diabetes
- Reduces the risk of some cancers
- Helps with weight management and increased energy
How much coconut oil should be used based on dogs weight?
While there are so many benefits to allowing your pet to consume coconut oil you are probably wondering how much to feed your pet and when! While the information below is intended as a general guideline, there are many factors to consider when deciding how much coconut oil is appropriate for your dog.
You’ll want to feed virgin coconut oil for maximum benefit. There are some coconut oil products designed for your pet, but regular coconut oil you buy at the grocery store is just fine, and generally more cost-effective.
As with any new food, make sure to introduce it to your dog slowly and gradually. Watch for adverse reactions or allergies. If your pet has a parasite or digestive issue be sure to be extra diligent and discuss any concerns with your dog’s vet.
Coconut oil is safe to feed and if your dog accidentally eats too much you’re likely only going to see some gastric upset in the form of loose oily stools.
Don’t forget coconut oil is high in fat and calories. You’ll want to take this into consideration before adding into your dog’s diet. If you notice your pet is gaining weight rapidly, discuss with your vet if you need to modify your dog’s diet in any way to help him maintain a healthy body weight.
To start your dog off right you want to work up to 1 teaspoon per 10 pounds of body weight. For a 90 pound dog, this means you’ll be feeding 9 teaspoons per day. Some dogs like plain coconut oil right off the spoon while others may prefer it mixed into their food. If you are concerned about stomach upset, mixing the oil into your dog’s food will minimize the risk. Do not give your dog the full amount the very first time you feed coconut oil. Work up to the desired dosage slowly, over a period of a few weeks to avoid upsetting your pet’s stomach.
For a full therapeutic benefit, your pet might need more than the standard recommended serving of coconut oil. You may wish to consult a holistic vet to discuss the most effective dosage for your dog.
One important note when feeding coconut oil - you’ll want to alternate coconut with some Omega-3s as your pet will need the essential fatty acids in the Omega-3s as well. You may want to consult your dog’s doctor about the right balance of fats and oils to make sure your dog is getting optimal nutrition.
Using Coconut Oil Topically
In addition to feeding coconut oil to your pet there are benefits to using it topically. You don’t want to just slather it on as your home might end up a greasy mess! If your pet loves coconut oil (and some dogs do) they might be hard to coat as they are going to try to lick it off!
You can rub the coconut oil into your pet’s skin and let it stay for about 5 minutes. After that start with a light rinse. If your pet still feels greasy you can shampoo to get the excess out. Think of this like using a leave-in conditioner in your hair.
You may want to put your dog in the tub or on a towel so they don’t make a mess. Oil stains can be challenging to clean up. You don’t want coconut oil on your bed (or theirs) or even the couch.
For dogs with skin, issues ask your vet how often you should apply coconut oil. You may even be able to just do some spot treatments to avoid a big mess.
If you’re just using it for a shiny coat and general skin health, treating your pet’s skin with coconut oil should be sufficient.
Using coconut oil for your dog can help you maintain his health, but make sure you are still getting regular wellness checkups and medical care for underlying health issues to ensure your pet lives a long and healthy life.
The Ollie blog is devoted to helping pet parents lead healthier lives with their pups. If you want to learn more about our fresh, human-grade food, check out MyOllie.com.