There aren’t too many things in your pantry that are good for your dog. You know the ones that are incredibly bad for your dog (garlic, onion, chocolate, etc), but do you know that items that have health benefits for your dog?
Is Olive Oil Safe for Dogs?
Olive oil is safe for your dog, but it should be given in strict moderation. There isn’t any risk of toxicity or other dangerous side effects as long as your dog is in good health.
Olive Oil for Dry Skin
The most common reason your vet recommends olive oil is to alleviate your dog’s dry, itchy skin. Dry skin happens for a lot of reasons. The exact cause can only be determined by your vet, but olive oil might be a reasonable option to help minimize your dog’s discomfort.
The most common reason dry skin occurs is from dry, cold weather. Much like your skin gets dry and chapped in the winter months, your dog’s skin can suffer in the same manner. A diet lacking in omega-3 fatty acids is another common cause. Good quality dog foods typically have enough fatty acids to keep your dog’s coat and skin healthy, but cheaper brands don’t have a sufficient amount. Omega-3 fatty acids are found naturally in fish and oils.
Hormonal imbalances are responsible for a significant number of cases of dry skin. Hypothyroidism is the most common, but it’s treatable with an affordable daily medication. Cushing’s disease (hyperadrenocorticism) is characterized by a rapid thinning of the coat and skin. Neither of these conditions are treatable with olive oil, but the addition of fatty acids sometimes alleviates the dry skin until the medication regulates your dog’s hormones. However, hypothyroid and Cushing’s dogs are more susceptible to weight gain, so only add these fatty acids if your vet has recommended it.
Olive Oil for Weight Gain
If your dog is chronically underweight, you’ll never be sure of the exact cause unless your vet performs an exam and runs bloodwork. Weight loss or the inability to gain weight stems from things like intestinal parasites, hormonal imbalances, or even cancer. Some dogs are just chronically underweight even if there isn’t anything specifically wrong with them. In these instances, your vet will suggest adding more fat to their diet. Olive oil is a reasonable solution, but your vet will give you an idea on the best items to add to your dog’s diet to help them gain or maintain a healthy weight. Olive oil tastes good to most dogs, so you can add it to their dog food if they’re a picky eater and you have to persuade them to eat.
How Much Olive Oil Should You Give Your Dog?
How much your dog gets everyday will depend mostly on their size. If they get too much, they’re going to experience digestive upset and loose stools/diarrhea. Larger dogs may need a tablespoon or more per day while smaller dogs won’t need quite that much. Since you’ll consult with your vet prior to adding oil to your dog’s food, you’ll get the correct amount from them.
Some internet sources recommend rubbing olive oil directly onto your dog’s skin to treat hot spots. If your dog has any sort of sores, lesions, or cuts on their skin, never put anything directly on them until the areas have been looked at by your vet. Sores/lesions aren’t always caused by dry skin. If they’re caused by fungus, bacteria, or other microbes, applying olive oil will make the problem worse.
Loose stools are the most common side effect of olive oil consumption. Your dog’s stools might firm up as their body gets used to the oil, but it may indicate your dog is getting too much. Consult with your vet before you make any changes. Weight gain is another issue. Fatty acids are a good thing in moderation, but in excess, your dog is going to pack on the pounds.
Adding natural supplements to your dog’s diet is helpful for a variety of minor conditions, but this doesn’t mean you should self-diagnose your dog or give them something your vet hasn’t recommended. Olive oil certainly won’t hurt your dog, but there are cases where it isn’t an appropriate addition to their diet.