Coconut oil has become very popular for a variety of uses in people. Besides cooking with it, there is both anecdotal and scientific evidence that shows how coconut oil can have healing properties when ingested or used topically. But what is coconut oil? What are its benefits, and do the same properties apply when coconut oil is used in dogs?
In This Article
What is Coconut Oil?
Coconut oil is the oil that is collected from the meat and milk of the coconut fruit or coconut palm tree. It is a type of saturated oil that has health benefits for humans but only when used in moderation. It is not a trans-fat or hydrogenated oil, which is a type of oil that has undergone a process to make it more solid. Hydrogenated oils increase the risk of heart disease and can result in the formation of plaque deposits which can clog arteries.
When used in small amounts, coconut oil was shown to improve cholesterol and reduce triglycerides in people. It has also been shown to improve weight loss in people, enhance blood coagulation, and improve hair and skin. In lab settings, coconut oil also had antimicrobial properties and had a weak yet positive response against the growth of Staphylococcus aureus.
Benefits vs. Myths
If you’ve ever read any articles about the use of coconut oil in dogs, you’ve probably read about its safety and its many uses. However, the majority of these implications are either entirely false or have not yet been proven in a lab setting or a clinical trial.
Skin, Snout & Coat
Most pet owners give their dog coconut oil to help with their skin and coat. In small amounts, coconut oil can help improve dull, dry hair coats and skin. Some owners report that a tiny dot of the oil can help with insect bites and itchiness when applied topically.
However, these claims have not been proven in a clinical trial setting, so it is possible that some dogs won’t benefit from its use. Since coconut oil is viscous like other topical products, it may help provide relief from a dry, cracked nose. Working dogs, however, should avoid it as coconut oil may negatively impact their ability to smell.
Fleas & Mites
Other studies have looked at the use of coconut oil for dogs with fleas and mites, and while it did show that the oil was effective, the study was heavily biased.
When used for weight loss, dogs actually gained weight and had a higher risk of forming plaque in their arteries.
There is no evidence to show that it will help dogs who have cancer.
There is no evidence to suggest that it will help with things like dental disease, constipation, tear staining, or acid reflux, but as long as it is okay with your veterinarian, it may help some dogs who suffer from allergies, namely ear and skin problems.
Can my dog have Coconut Oil?
The bottom line is that coconut oil may be safe for most dogs, and it may provide some health benefits.
If you decide to start coconut oil, most small dogs can tolerate ¼ teaspoon to start with. Larger dogs may tolerate 1 teaspoon per day, and if no adverse side effects are seen in the first two weeks, you can increase the dosing to 1 teaspoon per 10 pounds of body weight.
If you’re still not sure about starting coconut oil usage for your pup, consult with your veterinarian. Certain conditions like skin disease or arthritis may benefit more from the use of other oils like omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s, which usually come from fish sources, have been shown to relieve inflammation from a variety of health issues and can improve heart health.