Natural circles of people have long celebrated the health benefits of coconut oil. It’s becoming something of a panacea for a variety of minor ailments from fungal infections to sunburns. Whether you’re using coconut oil on your skin or as a healthier alternative for cooking, you can’t deny that coconut oil has lots of benefits. Do these same benefits extend to your dog, though?
Is Coconut Oil Safe for Dogs?
Coconut oil is fine for dogs as long as it’s given in moderation and doesn’t make up a major component of their diet. Virgin coconut oil is the best kind of coconut oil to use because it’s unrefined and safe to use in both humans and dogs. The lauric acid found in coconuts is considered a medium chain fatty acid that prevents both bacterial and viral infections. This is no way means coconut oil is a suitable replacement for veterinary care in the event of a bacterial infection or a viral illness, but it can help with very minor wound care with things like small hot spots and low-grade yeast infections.
Yeast infections are commonly found in ears, but you should never put anything into your dog’s ears unless it’s a medication that’s created specifically for ears and prescribed for your dog by a veterinarian. Coconut oil should only be used on topical yeast or bacterial infections. If you put something into the ear when the eardrum is damaged could irreparably damage your dog’s hearing.If you add coconut oil to their food, it has even more health benefits. Coconut oil has been linked to reducing the risk of certain types of cancer. It’s also great for improving digestion and helping relieve small digestive upsets.
The fatty acids found in the oil do wonders for your dog’s coat and skin. If you’ve noticed your dog’s coat is looking a little less glossy or feeling a bit coarse, sometimes they just need more fatty acids in their diet. If they’re on a quality food and you’ve noticed a recent and rapid decline in skin and coat health, you should consider talking to your veterinarian about running some tests to rule out any serious health problems before turning to coconut oil.Coconut oil is also important in joint health. Again, those fatty acids are very important for more than just digestive, skin, and coat health; they’re also great for joint health. Research has shown that fatty acids have helped prevent arthritis or minimize the pain associated with joint disorders. Some owners have reported a decrease in their dog’s bad breath or overall “doggy smell” with coconut oil, too.
Administering Coconut Oil
Too much of a good thing is possible, even with coconut oil. If you and your vet have decided that adding oil to your dog’s nutrition is necessary, you should start small and slowly increase how much you’re giving them. If you give too much too soon, you’re going to have a dog with a very unhappy case of diarrhea. Veterinarians recommend giving about one teaspoon for each 10 to 20 pounds of body weight. When you first start out, start with about 1/4 teaspoon per 10 to 20 pounds of body weight.
Side Effects of Coconut Oil
Remember that coconut oil is an oil, so it’s fatty by nature and loaded with calories. Combine fat and calories and you’ve got a prime recipe for weight gain. Coconut oil might not be the best choice for your dog if they’ve battled a weight problem in the past, they’re diabetic and prone to weight gain, they’re currently overweight, or they live a sedentary lifestyle. Even if your dog’s coat isn’t as glossy as you’d like, weight gain is more than cosmetic. It raises the blood pressure, increases the risk of diabetes, and leads to joint problems.
Many people have shown concern over their dog’s stools when they’ve been consuming coconut oil on a regular basis. The stool will often take on a dark, greasy quality. This is normal, but if the stool starts to loosen or turn into diarrhea, you should stop administering coconut oil immediately and find a different option for getting more fatty acids into your dog.
Your Dog Doesn’t Like the Taste of Coconut Oil?
Coconut oil isn’t always popular with the canine crowd. If you’re finding your dog doesn’t quite appreciate the taste but you want to get it into your dog, you can put it into a healthy homemade dog treat recipe. Try this cookie recipe to give your dog some extra spoiling and a dose of fatty acids.
1/2 cup of creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup of honey (do not give puppies honey)
1 tablespoon of virgin coconut oil
1 cup of low-sodium, unflavored chicken broth
1 cup of plain, rolled oats (no added sugar)
1 cup of whole wheat flour
1 cup of all-purpose flour
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Mix together the peanut butter, honey, oil, and chicken broth. In a second bowl, mix your flours and oatmeal, then combine the dry ingredients with the wet ones. Put the dough on a floured surface and roll the dough out until it’s about 1/4 inch thick. Cut the cookies out into the desired shape and bake for 14-16 minutes on a parchment lined baking sheet.
No matter how good your intentions are, you should always talk to your veterinarian before you administer anything new to your dog. No matter how much research you do, there’s always a chance your dog isn’t suited to certain foods. Talking to your vet will prevent any health problems for your dog and ensure you’re helping your dog become healthier every day.