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Coconut oil for dogs

Benefits and risks of using coconut oil on dogs

Coconut oil has several impressive health benefits for humans, but what about pets? This article explores the use of coconut oil on dogs.

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Coconut oil for dogs: Good or bad?
Last updated on December 27, 2023, and last reviewed by an expert on June 3, 2023.

Coconut oil has become quite trendy in recent years.

Coconut oil for dogs: Good or bad?

Studies show that it has several impressive health benefits for humans.

Interestingly, many people also give coconut oil to their dogs or apply it to their fur.

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While most studies on coconut oil have been conducted on humans, the results may also apply to dogs.

This article explores the benefits and risks of using coconut oil on dogs.

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Coconut oil may help your dog’s skin issues

Using coconut oil to treat skin conditions is a common practice with well-known benefits. The positive effects are likely due to its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.

One study found that coconut oil effectively hydrates the skin of people with xerosis, characterized by dry and itchy skin.

This study was conducted on humans — not dogs. However, many dog owners and veterinarians claim coconut oil can help treat dry skin and eczema in dogs when applied topically.

Summary: Coconut oil may help treat human skin conditions, and some people claim it’s also helpful for dogs’ skin.

Coconut oil may improve the appearance of your dog’s fur

Coconut oil may improve the appearance of your dog’s fur.

Applying it to the skin can make hair shinier and less prone to damage.

This is because lauric acid, the main fatty acid in coconut oil, has a unique chemical makeup that allows it to penetrate hair shafts easily.

Other types of fat don’t have this same ability, so using coconut oil may help keep your dog’s coat healthy and beautiful.

Summary: The lauric acid in coconut oil has been shown to keep hair healthier than other fatty acids. It can improve the health and appearance of your dog’s fur.

Coconut oil may help fight off pests

The antimicrobial effects of coconut oil may prevent dogs from being infected by ectoparasites, such as ticks, fleas, and mange mites.

It has also been shown to help eliminate these pests in dogs that have already been infected.

These effects were confirmed by two studies in which dogs were treated with shampoo made with coconut oil.

In one of these studies, coconut oil also appeared to facilitate wound healing in dogs with ectoparasite bites. This is likely associated with coconut oil’s ability to inhibit bacterial growth.

Moreover, in test-tube studies, coconut oil has also been shown to kill bacteria, viruses, and fungi.

Is coconut oil good for your skin?
Suggested read: Is coconut oil good for your skin?

Summary: Coconut oil may be beneficial for preventing pest infections and treating bites.

Risks associated with using coconut oil on dogs

Although adverse effects are rare, there are a few things to consider before using coconut oil on your dog.

There’s always the risk of an allergic reaction when introducing something new to your dog’s diet or grooming regimen. If a reaction occurs, stop using it.

Also, some studies have shown that coconut oil can cause high cholesterol in dogs. In extreme cases, this can cause fatty plaque development in the arteries.

Furthermore, due to its high-calorie content, using coconut oil in excess may lead to weight gain.

Lastly, one study concluded that a diet high in saturated fat reduces dogs’ scent-detecting abilities. More research is needed to understand this finding better, but you may want to use caution with coconut oil if you have a working dog.

Thus, you may consult your veterinarian before adding coconut oil to your dog’s diet or applying it to your dog’s fur.

Summary: Coconut oil may cause high cholesterol, hardening of the arteries, and weight gain in some dogs. If your dog is prone to these conditions, talk with a veterinarian before use.

How to use coconut oil on dogs

Coconut oil is generally safe for dogs to eat in small amounts or applied to their skin or fur.

When selecting a brand, virgin coconut oil is best, as most of coconut oil’s benefits have been observed with this type.

According to some sources, coconut oil can generally be given to dogs one to twice daily with meals.

The amount you give your dog will depend on its size. If your dog is overweight or has obesity, don’t give it coconut oil more than once a day.

Suggested read: Can my dog eat this? A list of human foods dogs can and can't eat

Veterinarians stress the importance of starting slowly with coconut oil. This will allow you to monitor how your dog reacts to it.

Start by giving 1/4 teaspoon daily to small dogs or 1 tablespoon (15 mL) to big dogs and gradually increase the amount. If your dog tolerates it well after 2 weeks, increase the dose to 1 teaspoon per 10 pounds (5 mL per 4.5 kg) of body weight.

Due to a lack of research, these recommendations are not established.

Don’t feed your dog coconut oil alone. Instead, mix it in with your dog’s regular food. This will keep its diet varied and nutrient dense.

All dogs being fed coconut oil should be monitored for weight gain, diarrhea, and other symptoms that may signify intolerance.

Remember that studies haven’t revealed any benefits of using coconut oil in dog feed. On the other hand, using it on your dog’s skin may improve certain skin conditions.

If you’re applying the coconut oil topically, rub a small amount onto your hands and gently pat its coat, running your fingers through the fur and massaging a little into its skin.

Summary: Coconut oil can be fed to dogs or applied to their skin. Start slowly and increase the amount you give your dog gradually.

Summary

Research on using coconut oil for pets is lacking. The benefits are mainly anecdotal and based on findings in humans, rodents, and test tubes.

Despite the lack of research, giving it to your dog in small doses is relatively safe.

Ultimately, it’s a personal choice. Using coconut oil on your dog has a few potential benefits and might be worth trying.

The risks are unlikely but worth keeping in mind. After adding anything to its regimen, it’s important to monitor your dog’s health.

Talk to a veterinarian if you have further questions or concerns about giving your dog coconut oil.

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