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[UPDATED September 2021]
Did you know that coconut oil can be used to improve your dog’s health? This “superfood” can be added to your dog’s diet to improve digestion, fight infection, help with weight loss, and more. When applied topically, coconut oil can help to improve skin conditions such as eczema and hot spots. These are only a few ways to use coconut oil for your dog.
Keep reading to discover 10 ultimate coconut oil uses for dogs. Plus, find out which type of coconut oil is best for dogs, as well as how much to give your dog.
What Is Coconut Oil?
Coconut oil is 99% fat, it is an edible oil that is composed mainly (about 90%) of saturated fats. Half of the saturated fat content is lauric acid, which is a medium-chain triglyceride (MCT).
MCT’s or fatty acids differ from the fatty acids found in many animal products. The saturated fats found in animal products are mainly composed of long-chain fatty acids (LCTs) which are considered bad fats because they easily convert into stored fat in the body.
MCT’s are considered healthy fats, because they are harder for the body to convert into stored fat, and they are easier to burn off than LCTs. MCT’s are sent straight to the liver to be burned as energy, they aren’t processed or stored like other fats in the body.
The many benefits of coconut oil are due to the high MCT content. That being lauric acid, which has antibacterial properties that prevent infection.
Which Type Of Coconut Oil Is Best For Dogs?
There are two basic types of coconut oil, refined and unrefined. You will want to choose unrefined coconut oil, and better yet look for organic virgin coconut oil. It is the healthiest choice for your dog, and for you too.
All coconut oil is extracted from the meat of the coconut. The difference between refined and unrefined coconut oil is how the oil is extracted and processed.
Let’s look at the different types below:
Refined Coconut Oil
Refined coconut oil is made from dried coconut meat, also known as copra. This type of oil is called RBD oil, which stands for refined, bleached and deodorized.
This type of coconut oil is processed and refined using heat and chemicals. Refined coconut oils tend to be neutral in taste and smell.
The number of polyphenols and medium-chain fatty acids is reduced during the refinement process. This oil is not as healthy as unrefined.
Refined coconut oil is sometimes partially hydrogenated, which produces trans fats.
Unrefined Coconut Oil
Also known as pure or virgin coconut oil, this oil is made from fresh coconut meat. The oil is extracted by a quick-dry method, or through a wet-mill process.
Both of the processes are quick and do not require high temperatures or any chemicals.
Unrefined coconut oil is the least processed form. It has a bigger coconut flavour and offers more nutritional value.
Virgin vs Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
There is actually no difference in virgin vs extra virgin coconut oil, they are the same thing.
Labelling coconut oil as extra virgin is really a marketing ploy because people are used to seeing extra virgin olive oil as the best available. When it comes to olive oil, there is a difference between virgin and extra virgin, but that’s not the case for coconut oil.
As mentioned above, virgin coconut oil is unrefined.
Organic Coconut Oil vs Non-Organic
When coconut oil is labelled as organic, it means that the coconuts were grown without the use of pesticides. To make sure the coconut oil is truly organic, you will want to look for the “USDA Organic” label.
Both organic coconut oil and unrefined (virgin) coconut oil use the same extraction process, and it is hard to tell the difference between the two. The flavour and appearance are nearly identical, but many people consider organic coconut oil to be of higher quality.
How Can Coconut Oil Be Given To My Dog?
Coconut oil can be given to your dog orally, by mixing it in with your dog’s food. It can also be applied topically.
When choosing to feed it to your dog, you will want to start slow. The recommended dose is one teaspoon of coconut oil per 10 pounds or one tablespoon per 30 pounds.
Again, you want to start with a smaller dose, about 1/4 of the recommended dosage. Then gradually increase to the recommended dosage over a period of 3-4 weeks.
When applying coconut oil topically, you just rub a small amount of it on your fingers and apply it to your dog’s skin, or affected area. Since it can be given orally there is no need to worry about your dog licking it off.
10 Ultimate Coconut Oil Uses For Dogs
Now that we have learned what coconut oil is, and the different types, let’s look at how you can use it to improve your dog’s health.
1. Heals Wounds, Hot Spots, Dry Skin, and Cracked Paw Pads
When applied topically, coconut oil can help to heal wounds, disinfect cuts, and soothe cracked paw pads.
Because of its natural antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-fungal properties, coconut oil is a great natural topical antibiotic. You no longer need to use all those chemical-based products.
In the harsh winter, dogs usually suffer from dry cracked paw pads. Simply rub coconut oil on the pads thoroughly, letting it absorb in, and you’ll be amazed at the improvement.
2. Clears Eczema, Allergies and Contact Dermatitis
Eczema, allergies and contact dermatitis are all common causes of itchiness and irritated skin. The anti-fungal and antibacterial properties contained in coconut oil have the ability to help treat those skin conditions.
3. Improves Skin and Coat Health and Reduces Shedding
Coconut oil does wonders for your dog’s skin and coat. When fed regularly it improves the look and feel of your dog’s coat, and can help to reduce shedding. It offers relief to dry itchy skin and gives a shiny pleasant smelling coat.
Applying the coconut oil topically will leave your dog’s skin soft and moisturized, and make it healthier. To do so simply rub a small amount on your hands and massage into your dog’s coat and skin.
Coconut oil does not dry quickly. Once you massage it into your dog’s coat you can either let it sit for about 5 minutes, then rinse off, or towel off the excess.
4. Increases Energy
Because coconut oil is made almost entirely of medium-chain fatty acids, it gives your dog an increased level of energy. The MCT’s are directly absorbed in the GI tract and go directly to the liver, where they are burned off as energy.
5. Can Repel Fleas
Coconut oil kills and repels fleas because of its ingredient lauric acid. You can apply it topically by rubbing it through your dog’s coat or feed it orally.
6. Improves Digestion
Coconut oil helps to soothe digestive conditions such as inflammatory bowel syndrome and colitis. The MCTs in coconut oil improve digestion and aid in the ability to absorb nutrients, promoting overall gastrointestinal health.
7. Boosts Immune System and Fights Infection
When taken orally coconut oil is great for boosting the immune system. The powerful antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-fungal properties help to prevent infection and disease.
8. Cleans Teeth, a Natural Toothpaste
Dogs love the taste of coconut oil, and it is all-natural, making it perfect for brushing your dog’s teeth. Instead of using dog toothpaste why not try coconut oil instead.
Coconut oil can fight dental disease. It has anti-microbial properties to help eliminate harmful bacteria that cause plaque on your dog’s teeth. Less plaque means less tartar. It helps freshen your dog’s breath too.
9. Helps With Weight Loss
Adding coconut oil to your dog’s diet can help to balance the thyroid, and help with weight loss. The medium-chain fatty acids are easily metabolized and give your dog an instant boost of energy. Your dog’s athletic performance will be enhanced.
10. Use It To Coat Your Dog’s Pills
Coconut oil has a yummy taste that most dogs love. You can use it to coat your dog’s pills so that your dog will swallow them.
What Happens If You Feed Your Dog Too Much Coconut Oil?
Coconut oil is generally safe for dogs, but giving too much of it can be a bad thing. Some dogs can have an allergic reaction to coconut oil.
It is best to start slow when introducing coconut oil to your dog’s diet. Overdosing can result in diarrhea or soft stools.
It is always a good idea to consult your vet when introducing new foods or supplements into your dog’s diet.
If your dog has a tendency to gain weight, is overweight, or has pancreatitis, it is best to avoid feeding coconut oil to your dog. Your dog can still take advantage of the many benefits of coconut oil by applying it topically.
How Should Coconut Oil Be Stored?
Coconut oil should be stored at room temperature, and kept out of the fridge. This oil is typically a solid form, because of its higher melting point compared to other oils. If this oil is stored in a hot room, or pantry, it will turn into a liquid consistency.
Coconut oil is slow to oxidize, and because of its high saturated fat content, it is less prone to going rancid, compared to other oils.
If your coconut oil has turned to liquid, and you want it to return to its solid form, you can place it in the fridge temporarily to firm it up.
When stored properly, coconut oil can last up to 6 months or longer at 24 degrees Celsius, without spoiling.
Coconut Oil Treats For Your Dog
Giving your dog coconut oil orally is the best way to get the most out of its many benefits. You can simply add and mix it into your dog’s food.
You can also use it to make treats. It can be melted and mixed with peanut butter, banana, or other fruits, then frozen into silicone moulds.
This short video shows you just how easy it can be done, and your dog will love these treats!
To make these treats at home, you’ll need coconut oil, berries and silicone moulds.
If you don’t have the time to make treats for your dog, try some healthy store-bought treats instead. Here are a few of my favourites:
Fruitables Greek Yogurt Dog Treats Coconut Crunch
These small oven-baked crunchy treats are perfect for training or rewarding your pup. They are healthy and natural, made with creamy Greek yogurt, tropical coconut and pumpkin granola. They are free of wheat, corn, soy, and artificial colours and preservatives. They are made in the USA.
K9 Granola Factory Coconut Crunchers Dog Treat
Coconut Crunchers are made in the USA. They are oven-baked and crunchy treats made with only a few ingredients such as Organic Virgin Coconut Oil, pumpkin, banana and cinnamon. These treats are healthy and free of wheat, corn, soy and artificial colours and preservatives.
Final Thoughts On Coconut Oil Uses For Dogs
Coconut oil is a great addition to your dog’s diet. Just make sure to start slow, and choose organic virgin coconut oil, as it is the healthiest choice for your dog. I recommend consulting your vet before giving your dog anything new, and to monitor your dog for any adverse reactions.
Overall coconut oil is really a great supplement, and when applied topically it does wonders for your dog’s skin and coat. It is a natural non-toxic alternative to treat and heal wounds, cuts, and even makes a great natural toothpaste.
Has your dog tried coconut oil? Have you had success using coconut oil on your dog? Share your thoughts and comments below.