My dog Lola is addicted to coconut oil. I, too, love coconut oil and use it for cooking, as a replacement for butter and for skin care. I wanted to find out if it is as good for dogs as it is for us humans!
Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT’s)
Most of the saturated fats in coconut oil are Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs). which are metabolized to provide an immediate source of fuel and energy, enhancing athletic performance and aiding weight loss. In dogs, the MCTs in coconut oil balance the thyroid, helping overweight dogs lose weight and helping sedentary dogs feel energetic.
Integrative Veterinarian and Naturopathic Doctor, Dr. Karen Becker, says “Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) have been shown to improve brain energy metabolism and decrease the amyloid protein buildup that results in brain lesions in older dogs. Coconut oil is a rich source of MCTs. I recommend 1/4 teaspoon for every 10 pounds of body weight twice daily for basic MCT support.”
The lauric acid in coconut oil has antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal properties. Also in the coconut oil, Capric and caprylic acid have similar properties and are best known for their anti-fungal effects.
Former University of Maryland biochemist and dietary fats researcher Mary Enig, PhD says, “The lauric acid in coconut oil is used by the body to make the same disease-fighting fatty acid derivative monolaurin that babies make from the lauric acid they get from their mothers’ milk. The monoglyceride monolaurin is the substance that keeps infants from getting viral, bacterial, or protozoal infections.”
Benefits of Coconut Oil for Dogs
- Disease Prevention: Coconut oil has strong antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal functions; therefore it can help prevent and treat infection (e.g. yeast infections) and infectious diseases (e.g. canine influenza).
- Weight Control: Coconut oil supplies fewer calories than other fats. It is beneficial for dogs who are overweight and cannot consume too much animal fat, which is good to know, as Lola is part lab and lives to eat and my grandson is always willing to feed her!
- Joint and Bone Health: Coconut oil can prevent and relieve symptoms of arthritis.
- Skin Health: Coconut oil benefits the skin greatly – it alleviates skin allergy symptoms (e.g. itching, dry skin and hair coat) and protects the skin against cancerous growths.
- Digestive Health: Coconut oil improves digestion and nutrient absorption, and is beneficial for dogs with digestive problems (e.g. stomach ulcers, colitis, etc.)
- Hormonal Control: It is also believed that coconut oil can help with hormonal balance and is therefore good for dogs with diabetes or thyroid problems.
- Cancer Prevention: Finally, it is believed that coconut oil reduces the risk of cancer and other degenerative conditions.
When used topically, coconut oil can:
- Disinfect cuts and promote wound healing.
- Improve our dogs’ skin and hair condition, making the hair coat smooth and shiny. It can also eliminate the dog’s body odor.
- Clear up numerous skin problems, such as warts, eczema, dandruff, precancerous lesions, ringworm, bites and stings.
How To Choose Coconut Oil
There are two main types of coconut oil – refined and unrefined (“virgin” coconut oil).
- Refined coconut oil is usually made from low-quality coconuts and sometimes chemicals (e.g. chlorine and hexane) are used in the refining process.
- Unrefined coconut oil is made from fresh, high-quality coconuts, either hand-pressed or manufactured in state-of-the-art factories. Unrefined coconut oil retains most of the nutrients found in fresh coconuts. Always give unrefined coconut oil to dogs as a dietary supplement.
The October 2005 Whole Dog Journal article, Crazy About Coconut Oil – “Virgin” or Unrefined, this Healthy Oil has Multiple Benefits for your Dog – reviews how this oil is effective for healing your beloved dogs and cats.
Recommended Amounts of Coconut Oil for Dogs
Large amounts of coconut oil given to a dog can cause diarrhea or greasy stools while his body adjusts to the change in diet. Start slowly. Too much too soon can cause digestive and detox issues.
Recommendations are to start with 1/4 teaspoon per day for small dogs or pups and 1 teaspoon for bigger dogs. Then one can gradually increase every few days. In the event your dog seems tired or uncomfortable or has diarrhea, just cut back the amount temporarily.
Topical Use of Coconut Oil
To use topically for ears, cuts, wounds, mouth sores, cracked paw pads, and even on toothbrushes, remember that dogs often love the taste so they may immediately try to lick it off. You can wrap the wound with a towel or shirt for a few minutes, giving enough time for the oil to be absorbed.
I have concluded that adding coconut oil to your fur-babie’s diet is one of the healthiest things you can do for your pet!
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