Although saturated fat has received a very bad rap it is well worth taking a second look at coconut oil as a nutritional supplement for your dog’s diet. While virgin coconut oil is 90% saturated fat, when added to a dog’s diet in small quantities, on a daily basis virgin coconut oil has many beneficial qualities.
Most of the saturated fats in coconut oil come from Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs). The MCTs are the source of most of the benefits of coconut oil. One of the MCTs is lauric acid - lauric acid has antibacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal properties. As a dog’s and cat's digestive system metabolizes MCTs with great efficiency coconut oil is used as an immediate source of energy and it gently raises the metabolism - there by aiding physical performance and weight loss - for overweight dogs and for dogs suffering from thyroid problems. Coconut oil also improves a dog’s skin and coat, aids digestion and reduces the severity of allergic reactions.
The following provides a more detailed list of the benefits of coconut oil.
Digestion/absorption of nutrients
Healing of digestive problems (i.e. inflammation of the bowls);
Reduces and may completely eliminate bad breath;
Helps eliminate hair balls and related coughing.
Bones, Immune System, Metabolism
…three important attributes in the fight against infection, cancer and other diseases;
- Balances, regulates insulin,
- Helps reduce weight,
…diabetes prevention and control;
- Increases energy;
- Aids in health of ligaments;
- Helps with arthritis relief;
- Improves brain energy metabolism;
- Reduces risk of brain lesions in older dogs.
Skin and Fur Conditions
Helps to clear-up…
- Flea allergies,
- Itchy Skin;
- Ring worm (a fungal infection)
Improves health and appearance of...
- and deodorizes;
- Prevents and treats topical yeast and fungal infections;
- Disinfects cuts and supports healing of wounds;
- Coconut Oil can be used to support oral health - you can read how here.
As a Topical Application
Supports the healing of:
- Dry skin;
- Hot spots;
- Insect bites;
- Insect stings;
What Kind of Coconut Oil Should You Buy
It is important that you give your dog only Virgin Coconut Oil (VCO) or Extra Virgin Coconut Oil (EVCO) both are also called unrefined-oil. Cold-pressed VCO is best. Organic and non-GMO coconut oil is even better. Despite what manufacturers and people may say the difference between VCO and EVCO is simply a marketing campaign borrowed from the olive oil manufacturing community - there is no real difference between the two (EVO and EVCO).
Different brands of coconut oil will have different tastes - some faint, very subtle coconut taste to others that will have a much stronger taste of coconut. Remember the one sense we humans have that is stronger than our dog’s senses is taste. Your dog has about 1700 taste buds, while we have about 9000. Don’t worry about the taste - concentrate instead on the quality of the product…that it is VCO or EVCO.Daily Dosage
If you would like to make a simple homemade, nutritious, healthy dog treat which incorporates the use of coconut oil you can take a look at these recipes I developed for my dogs.
Try Making Some Healthy Treats for Your Dog using Coconut Oil
It is best to give coconut oil with food. You can drizzle the coconut oil on top of your dog’s and cat's kibble or other food. The recommended maximum dosage is:
- ¼ teaspoon for every 10lbs of body weight twice daily, or
- ½ teaspoon for every 10lbs of body weight once daily.
When first introducing coconut oil to your dog’s and cat's diet it is best to use a lesser amount that the maximum dosage indicated above. The dosages above represent a typical maintenance dosage. Introductory dosages should be in the range of ¼ tsp per day for small dogs, cats, puppies and kittens and 1 tsp per day for large dogs. If you know that your dog has a sensitive digestive system then start off with a few drops of coconut oil a day. You can then gradually increase the amount of coconut oil over several weeks.
Large amounts of coconut oil given to a dog or cat can cause diarrhea or greasy stools while his/her body adjusts to the change in diet. Start with small amounts, such as ¼ teaspoon per day for small dogs or puppies and 1 teaspoon for large dogs, or even just a dab if your dog's or cat's constitution is sensitive. If your dog seems tired or uncomfortable or has diarrhea, just cut back the amount temporarily. Gradually increase the amount every few days.
The reason for this phased-in approach is because coconut oil kills bacteria, viruses, parasites, yeasts, and fungi, your dog or cat may respond negatively to the detox aspect of coconut oil. Signs of detoxing too rapidly may include lethargy, headaches, flu-like symptoms, fatigue, and diarrhea. If your dog does have any such reaction, just temporarily cut the daily amount back to allow your dog’s and cat's system to gently adjust. This is another reason why dividing your dog’s intake of coconut oil between two feedings a day is a good approach.