The Health Benefits Of Coconut Oil For Dogs
Coconut oil is extremely popular these days. You may use it yourself as a health supplement, for cooking, as a homemade toothpaste or deodorant ingredient, to moisturize your skin or condition your hair.
Because of its antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties, many people also use coconut oil for a number of medicinal purposes.
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.
In fact, the Medium Chain Fatty Acids found in coconut milk are also in the breast milk of humans and other mammals, and coconut oil is an ingredient in many infant formulas.
Coconut oil is not an Omega-3 oil but it still has many health benefits for your dog. Keep reading to find out how it can boost your dog’s wellbeing.
What’s In Coconut Oil?
Coconut oil consists of more than 90% saturated fats. All fats and oils are composed of triglycerides. Coconut oil is composed primarily of Medium Chain Triglycerides. All triglycerides are made up of individual fat molecules called fatty acids. Coconut oil contains 64% Medium Chain Fatty Acids (MCFAs).
Breaking it down further, the MCFAs in coconut oil are made up of 48% lauric acid, 8% caprylic acid and 7% capric acid, plus myristic and palmitic acids.
Coconut oil also contains about 2% linoleic acid (polyunsaturated fatty acids) and about 6% oleic acid (monounsaturated fatty acids). Most of coconut oil’s health benefits come from the MCFAs, especially lauric acid.
Lauric acid has antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties. Capric and caprylic acid have similar properties and are best known for their antifungal effects. In addition, the body can efficiently metabolize MCFAs to provide an immediate source of fuel and energy, enhancing athletic performance and aiding weight loss.
In dogs, the MCFAs in coconut oil balance the thyroid, helping overweight dogs lose weight and helping sedentary dogs feel energetic.
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.
6 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.