Why Coconut Oil is Good For Your Dog

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A small brown dog bites a fresh coconut on the beach in front of a shore

Jessica Mabie author of Why Coconut Oil is Good For Your Dog

What is Coconut Oil?

Coconut oil is a healthy fat containing 80%-90% saturated fat, so coconut oil retains its solid form when at temperatures lower than 78°F. Though saturated fat sounds terrible, it is made up of fatty acids, the primary of which is lauric acid, which is very beneficial.

Coconut oil comes from either the fresh coconut meat or dried coconut called copra. Virgin coconut oil comes from fresh coconut meat, whereas refined oil comes from copra. Important terms you may see on coconut oil labels include:

  • Expeller-Pressed— This is a mechanical process to extract the oil from the coconut meat, often using heat during the process
  • Cold-Pressed— This method keeps the temperatures below 120°F during the extraction process, which is thought to aid in retaining the nutrients found naturally in the oil
  • Refined – The dried coconut is mechanically processed using heat to get the oil released from the copra. Some extraction methods also use chemicals like hexane.
  • The oil is then steamed or heated to remove odors and finally filtered through clays to remove impurities and bacteria. Refined coconut oil has a higher smoke point and is odorless.
  • Partially Hydrogenated – It is an oil that has been processed to extend its shelf life, but contains trans fats.

Coconut oils contain MCTs (Medium Chain Triglycerides), which are believed to be healthy fats.

However, it is essential to note that, according tothe Harvard School of Public Health, commercial brands of coconut oil do not have as high of MCT concentration as specially formulated coconut oil. Still, this does not mean that there aren't any MCTs, only that commercial coconut oil possesses fewer. Additionally, there is a high amount of lauric acid in coconut oil, which also has several benefits.

Coconut oil has long been used in alternative remedies as a health curative in humans, but did you know that it is equally beneficial for dogs?


Benefits of Coconut Oil for Dogs

There are many benefits of coconut oil for dogs, such as:

Antifungal Properties – According to the NIH (National Institute of Health), they compared various products, including coconut oil and Chlorhexidine, to see their efficacy against fungal infections.

Though the study was not on dogs and instead on children, many of the same fungus issues impact both humans and dogs.

They found that both were effective antifungal remedies. Chlorhexidine is the primary ingredient in many prescription shampoos for dogs with fungal infections.    

I have a dog with horrible skin allergies; however, I have seen significant improvement after using coconut oil on some of her infections. Though there is nothing wrong with Chlorhexidine, I prefer using coconut oil since it also moisturizes my dog’s skin.

Anti-Bacterial – As a topical antimicrobial treatment, coconut oil is effective against various bacteria strains, includingStaphylococcus aureus. Unfortunately, not a lot of research has been done using coconut oil. However, some recent studies show positive results when used for bacterial infections.  

I have used coconut oil topically on my dogs and myself with excellent results. No one antibiotic can eliminate all bacteria, so it is essential to contact your veterinarian before administering coconut oil to an infection.

Flea and Tick Remedy – Coconut oil shampoo was tested to see if it could eliminate fleas and ticks, and the answer was a resounding yes! And even better, it is also effective against lice and mites. When high coconut concentrated shampoos were used on dogs infested with fleas, ticks, mites, or lice, they found that within 24 hours, dogs were free from these parasites.

Plus, as a bonus, the parasites' bites showed improvement since coconut oil acts as a topical antibiotic and an anti-inflammatory treatment.  

Minor Wound Care –Not only does coconut oil have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory benefits, making it ideal for wound care, but it also helps heal the wound faster. Astudy showed an increase in fibroblast proliferation, which is essential in promoting tissue repair.

Additionally, in the same study, they saw an increase in neovascularization, which is the natural growth of new blood vessels.

Please note this is not for severe wounds but for minor scrapes, abrasions, or cuts. To learn more about using coconut oil for wound care, check out:


 Why Coconut Oil is the Best for Healing Dog Wounds

Improves Skin Health – Coconut oils also help relieve symptoms associated with dermatitis-like skin irritations, bug bites, or dry skin. However, because coconut is rich in fats and lauric acid, it helps to moisturize and soothe the skin.

It can be used for small areas or in a shampoo.

Natural Paw Balm – Our dog’s paws get pretty rough and dry at times, dogs can also easily suffer cuts, tears, or burns on the bottom of their pads. Using coconut oil to heal these wounds is great, but using coconut oil as a preventative is even better.

When dog’s paws are dry and brittle they can easily crack or suffer injury, however, coconut oil can help moisturize the pads so they become more supple and durable.  


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How to Administer Coconut Oil for a Dog

Always consult a veterinarian before doing anything, as excessive amounts of Coconut Oil can lead to stomach upset and greasy and uncomfortable stools. 

Though most of the uses above are for topical treatments, coconut oil can be given orally, about 1 tbsp per 30 pounds per day. It is vital to state that there are some health risks to feeding your dog coconut oil, including:

  • Severe stomach upset
  • Pancreatitis from the high-fat content
  • Allergic reaction
  • Obesity

Two of my dogs have chronic pancreatitis, so I avoid feeding them coconut oil in fear of triggering a flare-up. So, if your dog suffers from any of the above, like a sensitive stomach or obesity, it may be best to stick to topical use.  

However, it helps eliminate and prevent pests such as fleas, mites, ticks, and lice if administered orally.  

If you opt to feed your dog coconut oil, start with ¼ - ½ the recommended amount to reduce the chances of stomach upset. Over a week or two, you can gradually build-up to the full dose. It can be given as a treat or mixed into their food.

When applying topically, it is best to use a small amount to the infected area, making sure not to spread it too liberally. Wait five minutes for it to absorb, then gently wipe the site to keep it from becoming greasy and clogging your dog’s pores.  

If you don’t remove the excess and it does clog your dog’s pores, it is nothing to worry about; it is just like a blackhead. Wash the area with gentle soap and pat dry it should resolve within a few days.

Your vet knows best, so always check in with a professional before administering medical care to your dog.  And if in the event your dog’s situation worsens or does not improve after a day or two, stop treatment and seek advice from your veterinarian.

Please note that in the studies referenced above, the research teams used virgin coconut oil. I prefer using organic virgin cold-pressed to ensure the maximum amount of nutrients.


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Meet The Author 

Jessica Mabie author of Why Coconut Oil is Good For Your Dog

JESSICA MABIE

Jessica Mabie specializes in writing about pets, travel, and food. She has always loved dogs, and, at the age of 14, she started volunteering at a neighborhood vet clinic. While at the U of M, she continued her work with dogs as an obedience trainer and vet tech. Jessica uses her experience as a volunteer with American Brittany Rescue as well as aiding in her writing. So, if you happen to see her out and about with her family don’t hesitate to say “Hi!”, (You’ll know it’s her since few are so daring as to have 4 Britts).