“Too Long – Didn’t Read” Version: We recommend our CBD-Infused Coconut Oil.
Coconut oil has been blowing our minds in the last decade. Dry skin? Coconut oil. Need a quick hair treatment? Coconut oil. Morning breath? Coconut oil. Digestive health? Coconut oil. You get it. Coconut oil is pretty great. Many pet parents may not know that coconut oil is making headway in holistic healing and wellness for dogs.
What is Coconut Oil
Harvested from the coconut palm, coconut oil is an edible oil that is extracted from mature coconuts. You've probably used coconut oil in the past, perhaps without even realizing it. Coconut oil is found in many dishes, particularly Asian foods, and in beauty products. It comes in different forms, including unrefined, refined, organic virgin, and extra-virgin. Refined coconut oil is more processed and has a neutral taste.
What is Coconut Oil for Dogs
When administered properly to dogs, coconut oil’s benefits can be similar to those that we experience. Dog owners can administer the oil either orally or topically for many conditions (more on that in a second).
What is in Coconut Oil for Dogs
Coconut is comprised of saturated fatty acids, the majority of which are medium-chain fatty acids, also known as medium-chain triglycerides (MCT). MCTs are “miracle” fatty compounds that give coconut oil its therapeutic benefits.
One of the most significant MCTs in the chain is lauric acid. Lauric acid is most commonly found in mother’s milk, making it nutrient-dense; it also has antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties. These nutrients and antibacterial properties help build a strong immune system.
MCTs metabolize differently from other fatty acids. In particular, MCTs are metabolized rapidly, providing immediate energy. They also benefit a dog’s brain by improving mental function, especially in older dogs.
Health Benefits of Coconut Oil for Dogs
Thanks for sticking with us through all the scientific evidence of coconut oil’s health benefits. Now let's get down to all of the incredible ways that coconut oil can be great for Fido.
Coconut Oil for Weight Loss
Dog owners may not realize that nearly 60% of dogs in the United States are overweight or obese. Yikes! However, it doesn’t stop there. An obese dog can have long-term health issues, listed below, that are caused by the stress that obesity places on the body:
- Joint problems
- Insulin resistance
- Breathing problems
- High blood pressure
- Liver disease or other liver dysfunctions
This is where coconut oil comes in. Adding coconut oil to your dog's diet promotes healthy thyroid functioning and weight loss. Furthermore, MCTs rapidly metabolize and give your dog an immediate boost of energy that enhances their physical activity, thus promoting weight loss.
Easing Digestive Issues with Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is great for soothing digestive conditions such as inflammatory bowel syndrome and colitis. It also improves digestion, enhances nutrient absorption, and promotes overall gastrointestinal (GI) health. Additionally, coconut oil can improve bad breath and eliminate GI parasites. A warning, though—too much coconut oil may cause loose stools, a digestive issue you definitely don’t want to deal with. Always give the recommended amount and start off slowly when introducing coconut oil into your dog’s diet.
Coconut Oil for Cracked Paws
Coconut oil has antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral properties, making it a wonderful all-natural remedy. It can be used to help heal cuts and wounds on your dog’s paws and keep the paws clear of infections. Additionally, if your dog suffers from allergies and constantly chews on their ears or paws, coconut oil can help heal the damaged skin.
Coconut oil is safe to eat, so you won’t have to worry if your dog licks it off. Other chemical-based medications can make dogs sick if they accidentally ingest it.
Boosting the Immune System with Coconut Oil
When ingested, coconut oil can do wonders for a dog's immune system. Its powerful antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties help prevent infection and disease.
Coconut Oil Skin Benefits
In dogs, coconut oil is most commonly used on the skin. It can do wonders for treating current skin conditions and preventing others.
Here’s a list of the many ways that coconut oil can help a dog’s skin:
- Soothe cracked elbows
- Improve overall skin health
- Moisturize dry, irritated, itchy skin
- Treat yeast and fungal infection on the skin
- Promote healing (e.g., hot spots, insect bites)
- Clear inflammatory skin conditions (e.g., flea allergy dermatitis, eczema, atopic dermatitis)
Always consult with your veterinarian before using coconut oil to treat skin conditions.
Coconut Oil for the Coat
It's no surprise that coconut oil can work wonders for your dog's coat. It’s packed full of nutrients that keep your dog's fur healthy and shiny. Pet owners can add coconut oil to the food or directly into their dog's shampoo to enhance coat quality and eliminate itchy irritation caused by inflammatory skin conditions.
Lauric acid, the super nutrient in coconut oil that we discussed earlier, has chemical properties that allow it to easily penetrate the hair strands, allowing for great nutrient absorption through the skin and a healthy coat.
Coconut oil also helps increase lipid levels, making it an effective moisturizer if your dog suffers from dandruff.
By eliminating dry, itchy skin, coconut oil helps combat that stinky "dog smell" that we can grow accustomed to.
Endocrine/Metabolic System Support
Speaking of internal benefits, coconut oil for dogs benefits the endocrine system and overall metabolism. For example, it helps regulate insulin, helping to control diabetes. Coconut oil also promotes normal thyroid function, increases energy, and helps manage body weight.
Coconut oil helps to strengthen bones. It also eases joint inflammation, which reduces arthritis-related discomfort.
Treating and Preventing Yeast and Fungal Infections
Yeast infections are among one of the most common inflammatory skin conditions in dogs. Yeast can accumulate in the ears. Coconut oil’s antifungal properties can help treat and prevent mild yeast and fungal infections.
Supporting the Brain
Coconut oil can also benefit the brain, ears, and eyes of our four-legged friends. Lauric acid, which promotes healthy brain development in children, provides similar cognitive benefits in dogs.
Eliminating Dog Odors
We know that you love your fur baby, but it’s undeniable that Fido can get pretty smelly sometimes. Coconut oil, with its pleasant smell and disinfecting properties, can significantly reduce dog odor. Pet owners can use it to freshen up bad breath or apply it directly to a dog's coat to deodorize the fur.
Conventional medications that combat parasitic infestations can have many potentially harmful side effects. Coconut oil is an all-natural, non-toxic treatment for intestinal worms. Like many of its benefits, coconut oil can be used to kill GI parasites.
Supporting Overall Health
By this point in the article, you know that coconut oil for dogs is great for overall health. To reiterate, coconut oil benefits a dog’s health in many ways:
- Reduce inflammation
- Boost the immune system
- Promote normal thyroid function
- Maintain healthy cholesterol levels
- Promote brain, skin, and gastrointestinal health
All in all, we are fans!
How to Use Coconut Oil for Dogs
Are you sold on the benefits of coconut oil for dogs? We sure hope so! But how can it be used and integrated into your dogs daily life? Well, there are many ways to do so.
Pet owners use coconut oil on the skin to soothe dry, itchy, and irritated skin. Its smooth texture makes it easy to apply, and you won’t have to worry about any potential harmful side effects if Fido decides to lick some of it off.
Dog owners also use coconut oil as a substitute when baking or cooking for their fur-babies. For example, many dog owners like to make homemade dog treats. Try adding coconut oil into a peanut butter recipe to maximize the health benefits in those treats.
The benefits don’t stop at coconut oil. Other coconut products are healthy and beneficial for dogs. Fresh or dried coconut chunks are a healthy, nutritional snack for Fido and can be very hydrating on a hot summer day. Coconut chips are an excellent source of dietary fiber. When you purchase coconut treats, read the labels closely; there should be no added sugar or chemicals. You don’t want to accidentally cause more harm than good when adding a nutritional snack to your dog's diet. Check out our coconut treats with simple, easy-to-read ingredients.
Whether you are adding coconut oil to your dog shampoo, using it as a topical ointment, adding it to your dog’s diet, or baking with it, coconut oil is an inexpensive and nutritionally beneficial option for dog parents who are actively seeking a more holistic remedy for their pet’s ailments. Coconut oil can be a healthy substitute for several chemically-based drugs that have many negative side effects. For that reason, we are incredibly thankful for coconut oil.
Coconut Oil Dosage - Orally
We don’t have to tell you that no two dogs are like. Yes, coconut oil is all-natural and non-toxic. However, although one dog may have no reaction to coconut oil, the next might have a few minor side effects. For this reason, the dosage of coconut oil can be very subjective. We always recommend starting off slowly. The recommended dose is approximately 1 teaspoon of coconut oil per 10 pounds of dog. When starting out, give a 1/4 of the recommended dose and monitor your dog to see how they react to it. From there, you can gradually increase the dose.
We’ve mentioned that coconut oil has powerful antifungal and antibacterial properties. For example, it can help get rid of intestinal parasites. However, giving too much coconut oil can upset the stomach and cause loose stools. Again, go slowly with the dosage and monitor your dog. If they have loose stools or seem tired or uncomfortable, reduce the dosage. Again, there’s no need to rush the process. Before you know it, Fido will be reaping all the benefits of coconut oil has to offer.
Coconut Oil Dosage - Topical
Coconut oil can be easily massaged into the skin. To ease itchy and dry skin, dog owners can apply the coconut oil directly onto the skin and thoroughly massage it into the skin and coat. The same goes for treating cracked paws.
Fair warning: coconut oil does not dry quickly. Once you massage it into your dog's coat, remove the excess with a towel so that it doesn’t get all over your carpet or furniture.
Talk with your veterinarian before using coconut oil in an open wound. These skin lesions, depending on their severity, may need to be treated with more than just coconut oil for optimal healing.
Is Coconut Oil Good For Dogs
In a word, yes. Animals tolerate coconut oil very well. Unlike with conventional treatments, dog owners do not need to be overly concerned about toxicity from over-consumption. That being said, all dogs react differently. Discuss the best treatment plan for your individual dog with your holistic veterinarian.
Many pet parents might be concerned about the high levels of saturated fat in coconuts. We like to remind our readers that are not all fats are bad. The fats in coconuts are MCTs that can provide a great number of health benefits for Fido.
Moderation is key. Too much of a good thing can cause harm. Always give the recommended dose and monitor your dog for changes.
The good news and bad news about holistic wellness becoming so popular is that you’ll always be able to find the product that you’re looking for, however, you’ll have to triple check the quality of the product.
There are now copycats for just about everything. Some companies will label their product in an eye-catching way, but it won’t have the nutritional benefits that you’re looking for. You will find some coconut oils in your grocery store that are refined, bleached, and deodorized. This essentially means that all of the great qualities of the coconut are removed leaving it with virtually no health benefits. Always be sure to read your labels!
Coconut Oil for Dogs: The Bottom Line
The good news and bad news about holistic wellness becoming so popular is that you’ll always be able to find the product that you’re looking for. However, you’ll have to triple check the quality of the product.
Some companies will label their product in an eye-catching way, but the product won’t have the nutritional benefits you’re looking for. You will find some coconut oils in your grocery store that are refined, bleached, and deodorized, meaning that all of the great qualities of the coconut are removed, leaving the oil with virtually no health benefits. Always read your labels!
Coconut Oil for Dogs: The Bottom Line
Coconut oil - We are fans!
At the end of the day, we all want the best for our beloved four-legged friends. When your dog is sick, it can be incredibly stressful. As much as we would like to be mind readers and be able to talk to our dogs, it’s not entirely possible. Conventional medications, while certainly necessary to some degree, can cause negative side effects. Being able to find a holistic, all-natural alternative is a great way to eliminate potentially harmful adverse reactions for Fido.
Coconut oil has such a wide range of health benefits that we recommend our readers to give it a try. From brain health to digestive wellness, it'll be next to impossible to find a conventional medication that can provide the support that coconut oil can. As always, consult with your holistic veterinarian regarding the proper dose of coconut oil for your furry friend's individual needs. We hope Fido feels better soon!
JoAnna Pendergrass, DVM
JoAnna Pendergrass, DVM is a veterinarian and freelance medical writer in Atlanta, GA. After earning her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, she pursued a non-traditional career path as a veterinarian.
JoAnna completed a 2-year postdoctoral research fellowship in neuroscience at Emory University’s Yerkes National Primate Research Center, then became a medical writer. As founder and owner of JPen Communications, a medical communications company, JoAnna is passionate about educating pet parents about pet care and responsible pet ownership.
Although she does not currently have any pets to call her own, she loves living vicariously through other pet parents and watching Nat Geo!