Coconut oil is not toxic to dogs and may have many benefits when added to your dog's diet or used topically. However, many of the claims made about coconut oil have little scientific evidence to back them up, and there are some potential risks and side effects when adding it to your dog's diet. Be sure to consult with your veterinarian to decide whether coconut oil is right for your dog.
Coconut oil benefits
Coconut oil has many purported benefits for humans, and many of those benefits may also apply to dogs. For example, coconut oil is believed to have properties that make it anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral as well as anti-inflammatory. It may help improve digestion, reduce coughing and hairballs, aid weight loss, and help improve arthritis and bone health. Some say it also helps to decrease odor in dogs.
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It also has benefits when applied topically. It can help to reduce allergens and improve skin conditions. It can also be used to treat hot spots, dry skin, and insect bites.
Unfortunately, most of these benefits are not scientifically proven. Discuss your dog's health with your vet and decide whether you want to try coconut oil to help your pup.
Coconut oil in the diet
If you decide to give your dog coconut oil in her food, be sure to discuss an appropriate dosage with your veterinarian. Dosage can vary based on a variety of factors, including the size of your dog, the fat content in your dog's current diet, and any health conditions your pup has. Start with a small amount of oil and gradually build up to higher amounts over time to help prevent side effects, such as diarrhea or greasy stool. Feed your dog virgin, or unrefined, coconut oil. In general, for every 10 pounds of body weight, feed 1/4 teaspoon of coconut oil.
If you feed a homemade diet to your pup and are thinking of using coconut oil as a source of fat, think again. Unfortunately, coconut oil does not contain the essential fatty acids your dog needs to stay healthy. While it does contain medium-chain triglycerides in the form of lauric acid, it does not contain enough omega-3 or omega-6 to be a primary fat source.
While coconut oil is not toxic to dogs, it can cause problems for some dogs. Too much fat in a dog's diet can cause pancreatitis, so if your dog has this condition or another issue that causes problems in digesting fat, you should not give your pup coconut oil. Use caution when adding coconut oil to your dog's diet if she is prone to weight gain.
Coconut oil for dog hair
Coconut oil for dog hair and skin conditions can be beneficial, but be aware that it can also cause your pup to have a greasy coat. Rinse or wash off excess coconut oil after about five minutes. As an alternative, select a coconut oil shampoo for dogs to reap the benefits of coconut oil at bath time.
Coconut oil for a dog's itchy skin may be beneficial, as it has been effective for humans. However, some pet dermatologists have not seen a benefit from using coconut oil for this purpose. One potential reason for this is that yeast overgrowth is fairly common in dogs, and by applying coconut oil to the skin, you are simply feeding the yeast.