Coconut oil has a wide range of science-backed uses for humans and dogs alike. This versatile, trendy superfood is used in our food, moisturizes our skin, and even keeps our hair shiny. It is high in healthy saturated fats like lauric acid that possess antimicrobial, anti-bacterial, and antifungal properties.
So is coconut oil good for dogs? Many of the same health benefits of coconut oil that apply to humans apply to our pets as well.
“Coconut oil can increase energy levels, improve skin and coat, improve digestion, and reduce allergic reactions,” said Dr. Colleen Smith, DVM, CVA, CVCP of the Chattanooga Holistic Animal Institute to PetMD.
Let’s go over how your pup's overall health can benefit from coconut oil by using it both orally and topically. You will learn that this all-natural, chemical-free staple is a multi-purpose powerhouse for you and your pet.
6 Uses for Coconut Oil on Dogs
You have probably heard that various oils, from fish oil to CBD oil, can provide a number of health benefits for your pup. Coconut oil is one of them.
The special component in coconut oil for dogs that makes it so beneficial to their health is its medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs). These MCFAs contain 48% lauric acid, 8% caprylic acid, and 7% capric acid, as well as myristic and palmitic acids. All of these acids work hard to naturally tackle health issues like bad breath, weight gain, infection, dry skin, cuts, and digestive issues, to name a few.
1. Healthy Skin and Coat
Coconut oil is a great item to have on hand for any of your dog's skin conditions that may arise. If your dog has a patch of dry or itchy skin, coconut oil can be used on its own and is even a common ingredient in many paw salves and hot spot treatments.
A study has shown that using virgin coconut oil on dry skin hydrates your dog's skin and can lessen dandruff when used as a moisturizer. Adding coconut oil to your dog's diet will give you similar results to adding fish oil to their food in that it will help keep your dog's coat shiny and soft.
2. Disinfect and Soothe Wounds
Studies have shown that coconut oil has natural antiviral, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. It is a great topical solution to help heal your pup's cuts and wounds.
Use coconut oil for dry, cracked paw pads to moisturize and repair sore paws. Worried they will lick it off? Don't be! Coconut oil is safe for your dog to ingest, unlike chemical-based products out there that perform the same function for topical scrapes.
3. Improve Brain Function
In a study published in 2010, a team of researchers found that coconut oil's medium chain triglycerides have long-lasting improved cognition effects on aging dogs. They boosted the dog's brain function by providing it with energy in the form of ketones. As your fur child gets older, this alternative source of energy promotes healthy, active minds to keep their brain functions young and even prevent dementia.
4. Improve Immune System and Digestive Health
Coconut oil's antiviral and antibacterial properties are what help prevent infection and disease as well as promote normal thyroid function. It's great for their gut too: Dog coconut oil improves digestion and helps relieve the symptoms of colitis and other inflammatory bowel disorders. On top of that, it aids in overall nutrient absorption.
5. Dental Health
Did you know that coconut oil can be used as a toothpaste? You can maintain your dog's dental health, combat gum disease, and diminish bad breath by brushing their teeth with coconut oil. The lauric acid in coconut oil kills the bacteria that causes tooth decay and stinky breath in your dog’s mouth.
You can clean their teeth using coconut oil in one of two ways: using a canine toothbrush or letting them do the work themselves by chewing an oil-coated bone. To accomplish the latter, dip a dry bone in melted coconut oil and let it dry out. Once dry, give Fido the oil-soaked bone and let him go to chow town!
6. Repel Fleas and Ticks
If you are taking your dog camping or going for a hike in the woods, consider rubbing coconut oil on their coat to repel fleas, mites, and ticks. Simply rub the oil between your hands to make the consistency less dense and apply it throughout their coat, working it down to the skin.
Coconut oil is a natural and nontoxic alternative to chemical repellents. The fat in the oil coats the exoskeleton of any existing parasites and essentially limits their mobility and suffocates them. Any pests living in their fur will jump right out because of the repellent nature of the lauric acid in coconut oil, so it’s best to apply outside so the bugs don’t fall out in your home.
How Much Coconut Oil Is Right for My Dog?
How much coconut oil to give to your dog depends on their size, but you if you are just starting out you should begin with a very small amount. PetMD recommends giving small dogs and puppies 1/4 teaspoon and larger dogs 1 teaspoon per day with dog food or dog treats.
After the initial introduction of coconut oil into their diet, the general rule of thumb is to give them 1 teaspoon per 10 pounds of body weight. Be careful of overdoing it with coconut oil or else your pup will likely get diarrhea or runny stools. Though coconut oil helps with many aspects of your dog's health, too much can be dangerous and cause side effects, especially for overweight dogs, due to its high fat content.
To administer coconut oil topically to your dog, warm it up in your hands to get it to a more liquid consistency and apply it to the affected area.
As for what kind of coconut oil to use, do not skimp on quality. Organic, extra-virgin coconut oil or cold-pressed coconut oil is best. Do not get unrefined coconut oil because all of the good things naturally found in the coconut have been taken out, removing a major portion of its therapeutic and nutritional value.
The Bottom Line on Coconut Oil: Go Coco-nuts!
Is coconut oil good for dogs? While it is ultimately safe and beneficial to take advantage of the health benefits of coconut oil for dogs, consult your veterinarian to make sure it will not have any negative effects on your dog if they have any prior medical conditions.
Pure coconut oil is a great general supplement to your dog’s overall health. If you are interested in helping support your dog's metabolic function, digestive system, skin and coat health, dental health, and immune system, then giving them coconut oil is definitely worth considering.