If you’ve gotten on board the trend of oil pulling with coconut oil, or tried a coconut oil hair mask on a DIY spa night, then you’re likely aware of the power of coconut oil. In recent years, coconut oil has increased in popularity and versatility. In addition to using it as a cooking ingredient, many people have found other uses: as a regular part of their beauty routines; as a household cleaner; even as an insect repellent.
With all of coconut oil’s health, beauty, and household benefits for humans, it’s easy to wonder whether Fido could reap those same benefits. Can coconut oil be used for dogs the same way it is for humans? Is coconut oil good for dogs?
What is Coconut Oil?
Coconut oil is an edible oil extracted from the “meat” of coconuts, and is used in food and beauty products. Similar to palm oil, it is incredibly versatile. Coconut oil is high in saturated fats (the good kind of fat), and medium-chain triglycerides, or MCTs—both of which provide health benefits for humans and dogs alike.
Benefits of Coconut Oil
With its antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-viral properties, coconut oil is pretty powerful. When it comes to your canine, coconut oil may:
Hydrate the skin, and reduce dandruff.
Make the coat shinier and less susceptible to damage.
Prevent bites from pests such as ticks, fleas, and mites by making it harder for them to latch on to the skin.
Help to heal wounds by inhibiting bacterial growth.
Reduce coughing and eliminate hairballs (yes, dogs can get those too).
Improve digestion and metabolic function.
Promote weight loss (when used in the proper amounts).
Increase energy levels.
- Help to absorb nutrients.
Clean the teeth.
Slow the progression of Canine Cognitive Dysfunction, or dog dementia.
However, not all scientists and vets agree on each claim regarding coconut oil’s health benefits. In fact, some experts have changed their stance on coconut oil as more research becomes available.
Risks of Coconut Oil
As with the introduction of any new food or supplement to your pup’s diet, it’s important to be aware of the risks and potential side effects. Keep a close eye on your pooch when you first share your coconut oil with him, topically or orally, in case he has an allergic reaction.
When used orally, coconut oil could lead to high cholesterol and the hardening of arteries. Due to its high fat content, coconut oil could also lead to weight gain and should not be given to dogs with issues such as pancreatitis.
Coconut oil is high in saturated fats, which is what provides many of its health benefits. However, one study showed that a canine diet high in saturated fat could potentially reduce a dog’s ability to smell. This would be a pretty unfortunate side effect, since dogs use their sense of smell as a primary form of communication.
Before adding any coconut oil to your dog’s food or fur, talk to your vet to determine whether it is the best choice for Fido’s diet and beauty routine.
How to Use Coconut Oil for Your Dog
If you’ve consulted with the vet and determined that the holistic, natural, coconut oil approach is worth a try, make sure you start small and use organic, virgin, cold-pressed coconut oil. There are two ways to use coconut oil on your dog: orally and topically.
If you’re giving coconut oil to your dog orally, always incorporate it with meals no more than twice daily. With small dogs, don’t give any more than ¼ teaspoon daily to start out; with larger dogs, you may be able to give up to one teaspoon or even one tablespoon. If your dog is overweight, avoid giving him coconut oil more than once per day.
Monitor your dog closely for any side effects such as greasy stools or diarrhea—this is an indicator that he had too much coconut oil, and needs less next time. Fortunately, coconut oil is not toxic—it just may need some time to pass through your dog’s digestive system.
If you feed Fido pills during meal times, coconut oil can also be used as a coating on the pills to make them easier to swallow. Not only does this taste good, it helps the pill slide right down the throat!
Apply coconut oil to your dog topically for healthy skin and a silky, smooth coat. Take a small amount, rub it into your hands, and then massage it to your pup’s skin and fur, making sure to let it absorb for a few minutes. If he’s looking super greasy, you’ll probably want to give him a quick rinse. If you’re fine with Fido giving his shiny coat a few licks, you can leave the coconut oil without any rinsing.
Alternatively, you can try some hydrating coconut oil shampoo during bath time if you prefer to skip a few steps.
Coconut Oil Alternatives
There’s no one-size fits all formula to having a healthy dog. If your furry friend turns out to be allergic to coconut oil, or you would rather not take the risk of using coconut oil, there are some alternatives to consider. Because of their omega-3 fatty acids, salmon oil and flaxseed oil provide some of the same benefits as coconut oil.
Several Pet Honesty products can also provide similar benefits that could be found in coconut oil: Digestive Probiotics Chews, Salmon SkinHealth Chews, Allergy Itch Relief Pack, and Omega-3 Fish Oil, to name a few.
You can also put your name on the waitlist for Pet Honesty’s upcoming products including Hemp Calming Fresh Sticks, Allergy Support Fresh Sticks, Oral Hygiene Fresh Sticks, and Oral Hygiene Dental Water.