You might enjoy cooking with coconut oil. Perhaps you use it for oil pulling, and maybe you add it to DIY bath and body products. But is coconut oil good for dogs? The short answer to this question is “Yes!” There are many ways to use coconut oil for dogs. Just like humans, our four-legged friends can benefit from eating coconut oil, and we can use it externally, for a variety of purposes. This guide shows you how to help improve your dog’s health with coconut oil.
What to Know Before You Feed Your Dog Coconut Oil
If you eat coconut oil, you’ve probably heard that some doctors have concerns over the amount of saturated fat it contains. Veterinarians share similar concerns, noting that too much of a good thing can lead to high cholesterol, pancreatitis, diarrhea, or an allergic reaction. Small amounts are best, and you’ll want to watch out for signs of allergic reactions when you give your dog coconut oil for the first time. If he develops itching, hives, or swelling, call your vet and avoid coconut oil in the future. The good news is that just like in humans, dog coconut oil allergies are rare! Most dogs can eat coconut oil and enjoy topical treatments without worry.
What’s the best kind of coconut oil for dogs?
There are a few different types of coconut oil to choose from, and there are countless brands on the market.
Virgin Coconut Oil
This type of coconut oil has been minimally processed, and is usually extracted without the application of heat. It has a pleasant coconut odor and a flavor that most dogs find appealing. Like other forms of coconut oil, it contains medium chain fatty acids, vitamins, and antioxidants. For topical application, it offers antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. Virgin coconut oil is a great choice for dogs, but it typically costs a little more than refined coconut oil, particularly if you choose an organic variety.
If a label doesn’t contain the term “virgin,” “hydrogenated,” “steam refined” or “liquid” in front of the words “coconut oil,” It’s probably RBD coconut oil, which has gone through a process that includes refining, bleaching, and deodorizing. RBD coconut oil contains the same medium chain fatty acids found in virgin coconut oil, but it contains fewer antioxidants. This coconut oil is good for dogs, but it’s a touch less nutritious than virgin coconut oil. If you’re on a tight budget, this variety might be most appealing.
Expeller Pressed Coconut Oil
Most expeller pressed coconut oils are RBD coconut oil, but they are usually processed without the use of solvents such as hexane. This coconut oil is good for dogs, since it contains the same healthy fats found in virgin coconut oil. Many consider it to be more nutritious than other types of RBD coconut oil.
Steam Refined Coconut Oil
Like liquid coconut oil, steam refined coconut oil has a neutral taste and no odor. It contains all the nutrients found in other types of coconut oil. This is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a multi-purpose coconut oil that you can use for cooking, baking, topical applications, and feeding your dog.
Hydrogenated Coconut Oil
This is not a common form of coconut oil, as it’s mostly used by confectioners who add hydrogen to stabilize solid coconut oil and keep it from softening in warm temperatures. Because hydrogenated coconut oil contains harmful trans fats, it’s not recommended for dogs. We humans probably ought to minimize our consumption of this highly processed coconut oil, ourselves!
Liquid Coconut Oil
Often sold as MCT oil, liquid coconut oil is a convenient product that contains high levels of medium chain triglycerides. Because it has no discernible flavor or odor, this is a good coconut oil for dogs that dislike traditional coconut oil. It is also easy to measure and pour onto your dog’s food. Since it is highly moisturizing, it also makes a nice addition to DIY dog conditioners. Liquid coconut oil does have a downside. Because it has had all the lauric acid removed during the refining process, it doesn’t provide antibacterial benefits and it is less nutritious overall. Liquid coconut oil is generally more expensive than other types of coconut oil.
CBD Coconut Oil for Dogs
If your dog suffers from chronic inflammation, CBD coconut oil for dogs might be the best choice. There are a few different options available, both for external and internal use. CBD is derived from hemp, yet it is not psychoactive. It can help with pain relief, anxiety, and inflammation. Because many veterinarians who practice conventional medicine aren’t yet aware of the benefits of CBD coconut oil for dogs, you may want to consult with a holistic veterinarian as you determine whether this is the best type of coconut oil for your pet.
Health Benefits of Coconut Oil for Dogs
The same nutrients that make coconut oil good for humans make it a great source of nutrition for dogs. While it is high in saturated fat, it is also rich in medium chain triglycerides, which are fatty acids that are easily metabolized. By adding a little bit of coconut oil to your dog’s diet, you can improve her energy level, help her with digestive issues, help her itchy skin feel better, and add more softness and shine to her coat.
Coconut oil contains a substance called lauric acid, which is a medium chain fatty acid that’s found in mother’s milk. Not only is lauric acid nutritious, it offers antibacterial properties, making coconut oil just as good for external application as it is for dietary supplementation. When applied topically, coconut oil can help soothe minor skin irritations and condition your dog’s haircoat. Since it is chemical-free, there’s nothing to worry about in the event that your dog licks away some of the coconut oil while grooming himself.
Some veterinarians speculate that medium chain fatty acids like the ones found in coconut oil can help your dog’s brain stay sharp as he gets older. According to Dr. Katie Gryzb, a Brooklyn, NY-based vet, “Fatty acids are helpful in cognitive function, which has been medically proven.” If your dog is getting older, there’s no time like the present to treat him to a little bit of coconut oil!
How Much Coconut Oil Should I Give My Dog?
When feeding coconut oil to dogs, be sure to keep your pet’s caloric needs in mind. If you tend to give lots of treats and your dog has a fairly sedentary lifestyle, you might need to compensate by cutting back on the number of extras you hand out. Better yet, you might consider treating your dog to a little more exercise each day! Once you start giving coconut oil to a dog, it’s quite likely that his energy level will increase.
If you have a small dog, he might like up to 1 teaspoon of coconut oil per day. If you have a large breed dog, he will benefit from about a tablespoon of coconut oil per day. Whatever your dog’s size, be sure to start out slowly since the digestive system will need time to adjust to the extra fat. Giving too much coconut oil at once can lead to diarrhea.
Begin by treating your dog to ¼ teaspoon of coconut oil per day, and gradually increase the amount. If you feed your dog twice a day, you can eventually give him half of his dose with each feeding. If you feed once per day, give him the entire dose at meal time. If you like, you can split your dog’s coconut oil intake into smaller doses by smearing a little onto a treat and giving it to him at snack time. Most dogs love the taste of coconut oil, so prepare for lot of wags!
DIY Coconut Oil Dog Cookie Recipe
Nothing says love like homemade dog treats! This DIY dog treat recipe is quick and easy to bake, plus it’s as healthy for your budget as it is for your dog. The recipe’s yield depends on the size of the dog treats you make.
½ cup boiling water
1 bouillon cube (optional) or equivalent bouillon granules
2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
2 ½ cups oat flour (wheat flour can be substituted if your dog isn’t sensitive to it)
½ teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
1. Dissolve the bouillon in the water and allow the water to cool.
2. Add the coconut oil and egg, then combine thoroughly using a whisk or a mixer.
3. Add the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. The dough will be stiff – you may wish to use a sturdy wooden spoon.
4. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface (remember to use oat flour if your dog is sensitive to wheat)
5. Knead and pat the dough until it is smooth, for approximately 3 minutes.
6. Flatten the dough into a ½-inch thick disc. Use a bone shaped cookie cutter if you’d like to make traditional dog treats. Circles, hearts, and other shapes are fun as well!
*If you don’t have cookie cutters, feel free to pinch off bits of dough, then flatten them into bite-sized circles. Your dog will appreciate them just as much as other shapes.
7. Place the dog cookies on a parchment-covered baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes.
Allow your homemade dog cookies to cool completely, even if your pet is drooling in anticipation! Store the cookies in an airtight container.
Skin Issues and Fleabites: How to Apply Coconut Oil for Dogs
Thanks to its ability to soothe irritation and help speed up the natural healing process, coconut oil can help your dog recover from dry skin and flea bites, as well as hot spots and minor wounds. If your dog has a tendency to suffer from candida, yeast, or fungal infections, you’re likely to find that coconut oil soothes the itching while helping to alleviate other symptoms. Please remember to take your dog to the vet if symptoms don’t seem to clear up within a few days, or if your dog’s irritation gets worse. While many people claim that coconut oil can do miracles, it’s definitely not a panacea.
Basic Coconut Oil Bath for Dogs
Use anywhere from 1 tablespoon to ¼ cup of coconut oil for this bath, depending on the size of your dog. Start by gently warming the coconut oil to liquify it. If you like, you can add a few drops of lavender essential oil to the blend – just a single drop for small dogs, and up to four drops for big dogs. This increases antifungal and antibacterial action while imparting a fresh, soothing fragrance and helping to repel fleas.
*Please note that you should not apply coconut oil with lavender to the eye area, as it can cause eye irritation.
Wet your dog from head to toe with warm water. Choose a safe, hypoallergenic pet shampoo, and lather up. Rinse your dog completely, and keep him in the tub.
Apply the liquified coconut oil to your dog’s coat, focusing on problem areas. Massage gently, so the coconut oil makes its way onto your dog’s skin. Try to keep your dog distracted for the next several minutes – a dab of peanut butter applied to the inside of the tub’s wall might work wonders and help convince your dog that bath time isn’t so bad after all.
Give your dog another rinse with warm water. If you feel like your dog is too greasy, you can give him a second shampoo, but use just a little bit and don’t scrub down into his skin. Rinse a third time if you opt for a second round of shampoo.
Let your dog shake off the excess water, then rub him dry with a soft towel. Give your dog a favorite toy to play with while he finishes the drying process, especially if he’s interested in licking off the coconut oil.
How often should I bathe my dog with coconut oil?
Repeat the coconut oil dog bath once weekly for dogs that suffer from chronic skin conditions. If your dog doesn’t need much help, repeat just once or twice per month.
Treating Dog Skin Problems with Coconut Oil
Between baths, you can use coconut oil on dog hot spots, as well as on areas that tend to be dry and itchy, such as the ears and under the legs. Simply dab a small amount of coconut oil (preferably the organic, extra virgin variety) onto the problem area and gently massage it into the skin. Try to distract your dog for a few minutes after application so the coconut oil can do its work. This is a mild, gentle treatment that you can repeat as often as you like.
Coconut Oil for Dogs’ Paws and Noses
If your dog suffers from cracked paws, coconut oil can help soothe and heal the irritation. Clean your dog’s paws gently, dry them off, and then apply lots of coconut oil, one paw at a time. It’s a good idea to have dog boots or some old athletic socks ready (you can use baby socks for small dogs) to cover each paw as soon as you’ve applied the coconut oil. This will help keep your dog from licking the oil off his paws before it has a chance to penetrate. Keep the boots or socks in place for ten to fifteen minutes, and try to keep your dog still so he won’t trip or slip. Repeat the process at least twice a day, even if Fido isn’t a huge fan of the coconut oil paw treatment. You can use coconut oil to help keep dry dog noses moisturized, too.
Whether you plan to use coconut oil for dogs skin, as a nutritional supplement, or both, almost all varieties have some benefits to offer. Keep in mind, a little bit of coconut oil goes a long way, and of all the options available, organic steam refined coconut oil is among the most beneficial and the most versatile. You’ll save by purchasing a large container, which you can use not just for your dog, but for your whole family!