Coconut Oil For Dogs: One Natural Source For Many Health Benefits
Are you considering using coconut oil for your dog? For the most part, we want to figure out what is good or isn’t good for our dogs.
If you are wondering whether coconut oil is safe for your dog, the simple answer is ‘yes’. However, as we know nothing is ever that straightforward. There are some things that you may need to be aware of when using it.
The purpose of this article is to provide you with answers to some of the most common questions that come up every time we talk about coconut oil for dogs. We will also provide you with additional information regarding how and when to use it.
There are two ways that coconut oil can be used. It can be given ingested orally by your dog or used topically. One of the key differences between these two methods is that the topical application will largely have a localized effect.
This is to say that the area on which you apply the coconut oil is the one that will benefit from it. When taken orally, the effects are felt in the entire body, however, due to the digestive processes, the oral effect will be diminished as there is a lower bioavailability, this is the absorption rate in your dog’s body.
So, how do you decide when to go topical instead of oral? You can do this based on the outcome that you are looking for. If there is a small area of the skin to be treated, topical treatment makes sense.
What makes coconut oil good for dogs?
The most interesting property of coconut oil is the medium-chain triglycerides or MCT for short. Medium-chain fatty acids increase the speed of oxidation due to its rapid absorption, it is these triglycerides that are known to aid with weight loss and digestion.
Structurally speaking, MCT is made up of 3 fatty acid chains attached to a glycerol molecule. Each of these chains will have 6 to 12 carbons on it. MCT does not require pancreatic enzymes or bile for digestion.
The MCTs are known to provide fuel for the brain, this would result in maintaining the cognitive ability of your dog for longer.
Coconut oil is much easier to digest as it is not as complex as other lipid molecules, this is what makes it a great source of energy. It is quickly taken into the bloodstream which means that there is more nutrition absorbed in minimal time. Coconut water contains MCTs that are water-soluble. We will cover some of the benefits that your dog can derive from coconut oil below:
Key Benefits of Coconut oil
- Cholesterol management
- Digestion and nutrient absorption
- Has antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties
- Commonly used to treat bowel disorders
- Enhances thyroid function
- It helps your dog develop a health coat and skin.
- Works wonders in wound healing
- Help rid or control of parasites.
- Helps with weight loss
- It is a good source of energy.
- Reduces the chances of diabetes, and is effective as a treatment.
- It is great of odor management
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How Much Coconut Oil for Dogs
When it comes to how much coconut oil you should use or give to your dog our response can be divided into topical and dietary use. For topical use, you just want to apply enough without overindulging. We can even argue that you are better off putting more than is needed than putting less. You should also consider that in most cases your dog will interfere with whatever amount you have put on it.
For the dog’s ingestion, you can start with small doses being added to food. These can then be adjusted according to results observed.
Risks to be Aware of
Like most things that are good, overuse can come with its risks. Coconut oil does not present any overt risk factors to your dog. There is a school of thought that suggests that there is a risk of increasing the dog’s cholesterol levels if too much coconut oil is taken.
Three tablespoons of coconut oil at most per day would be within a good range. MCT oil should not go beyond 7 tablespoons per day. There is about 55% of it in each tablespoon of coconut oil. This works out to no more than 3.5 tablespoons of coconut oil per day.
A good place to start would be one tablespoon. Increase the dosage based on how that first tablespoon goes. The key here is to be attentive to the effects that the oil delivers. It does not matter whether you are applying it topically or as part of the diet.
Coconut oil for dogs with allergies
Dog allergies will present in 4 forms. They are either seen through cold-like symptoms, hotspot flashes, skin irritations inflammation, and ear problems. While some of these allergies may require further attention, coconut oil is a great frontline treatment method. It does a great job of treating these symptoms.
Skin allergy symptoms usually result from irritation or inflammation in the region. Although the issue may sometimes be systemic. The treatment can be applied to the affected area to achieve results in that region alone. There are some advantages to this approach, one of them is the minimized region affected by the treatment, the antibacterial properties found in coconut oil soothe the skin that it is applied to.
Hot spots on the dog’s skin are usually caused by an infection, inflammation, or both. Applying coconut oil onto the infected area would treat the infection and related inflammation. You will often find that once these things are treated, related issues such as hair loss and bleeding will clear up.
Most of us would have had occasion to see our dog struggle with allergies that have an uncanny resemblance to human symptoms. These can be in the form of a coughing or sneezing. In some cases, they can become quite persistent. So, how does coconut oil help? Coconut oil can relieve symptoms to the nose and eyes, it reduces your dog’s nose’s sensitivity.
The ear problems tend to be the more obvious ones. Our dogs will scratch nonstop. The first way to defend them is to minimize the harm that they cause to themselves. One of the reasons for the constant scratching is that they are actually itchy. Using coconut oil will reduce the inflammation that causes the itching.
Coconut oil for dogs with cancer
Cancer is one of the nastiest illnesses that your dog can face. It is quite a common one. According to the Animal Cancer Foundation, there are over 6 million dogs diagnosed every year. There is evidence to suggest that this number will keep rising. A significant number of dogs will also remain undiagnosed. The old adage rings true, prevention is better than cure. Diet is one of the areas where cancer can be prevented.
There are a whole lot of guides for this. We will not go into that. Where coconut oil is concerned, according to Dr. Fife, who is a certified nutritionist and naturopathic physician, it is one of the simplest cancer-resistant supplements.
One of the drivers of this is the anti-tumor properties that are present in medium-chain fatty acids. Coconut oil also enhances the function of your dog’s immune system. This goes a long way in fighting against the development of cancerous cells. As a way of preventing cancer, you can introduce coconut to your dog’s diet.
Coconut oil for dogs wounds
One of the biggest challenges that we face when treating your dog’s wounds is that they keep picking at them. This does not allow the wound sufficient time to heal. How can you help? Well, coconut oil can be used to create a protective layer on top of the wound.
It is also known to have antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal properties. When combined they all play a major role in ensuring that the risk of infection is kept to an absolute minimum.
Coconut oil also has a soothing effect on wounds. This is especially effective when the wounded region is itchy. The itchiness is often a part of the wound healing process. Applying coconut oil to the area surrounding the wound reduces or all but stops the itching, this stops your dog from scratching the area, it is a phenomenon that is common to the ears.
The application can be as liberal as you would like, you are not looking to achieve bioavailability here. The aim of topical application is mainly to manage symptoms.
Coconut oil for dogs yeast infection
The word infection will probably give this one up. Coconut oil makes a great remedy for yeast infection, it ties back into those antibacterial and anti-viral properties that we mentioned earlier. In the case of yeast, it is, of course, a bacteria.
Symptoms of dog yeast infection:
- A notable odor
- Hair loss
- Change in skin color
- Constantly licking the affected area
There are two approaches to treating yeast infection. It can be treated topically, directly on the area that has been affected. In most cases, you will get rid of the infection in its entirety. However, there are cases where the infection on the skin may be an indicator of a systemic infection.
The topical treatment option can be done by using coconut oil on the dog’s skin, this is when your dog has Malassezia Dermatitis. You can also use it as part of the dog’s shampoo at bath time. Once the antibacterial properties of coconut oil get hold of the infection, the results will show, the inflammation will show notable signs of improvement.
If the results do not show up, you may go with the oral option. Coconut oil can be administered with the dog’s food one tablespoon at a time. Monitor the results over the next few days to see if it improves things. The veterinarian will prescribe anti-inflammatory medication if necessary.
Coconut oil for dogs teeth and gums
There is no telling what goes into your dog’s mouth. Our fairy friends will sink their teeth into most things. As such they are exposed to all sorts of bacteria. Fortunately, they tend to be more resilient to some of the germs that we as humans are not.
Their teeth and gums tend to be the first ones to suffer. Coconut oil can be used to protect or treat their teeth and gums. You can use it as part of the teeth cleaning regime. It can be added to your dog’s toothpaste. It helps get rid of any lingering bacteria that may be on your dog’s gums and teeth.
It also goes a long way in ridding your dog of bad breath. This is also linked to the presence of bacteria. There is lauric acid within coconut oil, this is the secret weapon that does the job in this case.
Coconut oil for dogs skin rash
The presence of skin rash on your dog is usually a sign of some sort of inflammation. This is often related to the presence of bacteria or underlying conditions. While coconut oil may not be able to deal with all possible underlying conditions, it is certainly capable of dealing with those that are bacterial or viral derived.
In this case, we are looking at applying the coconut oil directly onto the area where the rash is occurring. A good approach would be to start by applying it to a small area. Based on the results that you realize, you can increase the circumference.
There is no harm in adding a small ration of it to your dog’s diet to treat any possible systemic problems.
Coconut oil for dogs shedding
We have already mentioned that the use of coconut oil goes a long way in improving the look and overall health of your dog’s coat, this is the same characteristic that will help when your dog is shedding.
While dog shedding is a normal thing, it can be linked to health problems or stress, when talking about health issues, the coconut oil can be of assistance, you can use it to scrub your dog’s coat as part of the shampooing.
This will take care of any bacterial issues that may be on the skin, you can also add it to the food. The recommended amount to give the dog for shedding is up to one teaspoon, as with other diet changes, always start with a minimum amount and increase based on results.
Coconut oil for dogs paws
Your dog’s paws tend to become dry. All of that running around and scratching at things takes a toll on their paws, most of the surfaces that they walk on are quite hard, concrete floors, tar, and tiling are hard on the paws.
Once they are dry, there is an increased risk of injury. It is important that you aid in the lubrication of these paws every once in a while.
Beyond being a preventative method, coconut oil is incredible at soothing your dog’s paws. The butter-like nature that you often find the oil makes it easy to apply directly to the affected area. It melts and spreads across the surface to ease the pain. It also provides a protective layer from bacteria and other vermin that they come into contact with during the healing process.
Coconut oil for dog’s nose
Just like the paws, your dog’s nose faces a host of challenges. It is not protected from the elements for the most part. This makes it open to harsh winters, scathing heat, and the rain. This constant change in condition will often leave it dry. In some cases, your dog which exacerbates the problem by using its paws to scratch at it.
The nose may bleed to simply become much too dry for comfort. In either case, you would want to intervene. Contrary to what others may recommend, we have found that there is no need to wet your dog’s paws before applying the coconut oil. Rubbing in a circular motion will liquefy it for easy absorption. The result is a nose that is soothed and eased of pain.
Is coconut oil good for dogs with kidney disease?
The use of coconut oil for treating kidney disease is a dividing matter. The biggest challenge that it presents is that of metabolism. Dogs do not do so well in metabolizing coconut oil when the kidney is not fully functional, this is one of those cases where you would need to consult your vet.
From a preventive standpoint, the use of coconut oil is known to reduce the chances of developing kidney stones. If it’s a part of your dog’s diet, you will not need to be concerned.
Coconut oil for dogs itchy skin
We have covered this in some sections already. Itchy skin on your dog is often an indicator of underlying conditions. In some cases, it is linked to the presence of bacteria or some sort of infection on the skin. Treating the underlying condition is one way to handle it. The other way to handle it is to treat the symptoms.
In either approach, coconut oil is an adequate solution. Where there is an infection, its antibacterial properties will deal with it. It also performs wonders in providing a soothing effect to ease the itching. At times this is essential to minimize the risks associated with the scratching. These can often be worse than the itching itself.
As far as the application is concerned, you can use it as part of the dog’s bath. This will treat any bacterial issues that may be present on the skin. If the issue is recurring, you may want to consider systemic treatment methods that go beyond the surface. Your vet may be the best person to speak with about it.
Coconut oil for dogs hair loss
While shedding may be normal, hair loss is an indicator of a bigger problem. Depending on what the root cause is, applying coconut oil directly to the affected area may resolve the issue. If the hair loss seems to be widespread, using coconut oil when washing your dog will be the best approach.
There are other conditions that may lead to dog hair loss that cannot be treated by coconut oil. If the treatment is not bearing results, you should consult your vet to get a diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
There are several ways that you can think about anything that you give to your dog. You can either be trying to cause or interfere with a biochemical process within the body. Or, you could use it to treat the symptoms of an existing condition.
This is the same way that you should think about the coconut oil that you put in your dog’s food as part of any treatment. How much you give, it matters. While there are no strict rules to follow, it is worth knowing that the weight of the dog matters. The larger your dog is the more coconut oil that you will need to give it. This has to do with the bioavailability and surface area that the oil needs to cover.
When considering conditions that can be treated by topically administering the coconut oil, the rules are not as strict. The rule of thumb is to start with low doses on a small area and increase both amount and surface area if the results are favorable.
Sources and Further Reading
Jason M. Collins