Coconut Oil for Dogs: Benefits and Risks

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Coconut oil has been hyped as a trendy superfood and health aid for both people and pets. But is it really a good idea for your dog? Read on to learn more about risks, benefits, and reasons you might want to invest in coconut oil for your dog.

Is coconut oil safe for dogs?

Coconut oil is generally safe for dogs, but some dogs can have an allergic reaction to it. One thing to look out for: too much coconut oil in a dog’s diet may cause diarrhea—which is no fun for either of you. Furthermore, you might want to avoid feeding coconut oil to dogs that are overweight or suffer from pancreatitis. It can be risky for these pups because it’s so high in fat.

The benefits of coconut oil for dogs

Possible benefits of coconut oil for dogs include relief from itchy skin, increased energy, better digestion, and improved cognitive function. These benefits may be due to coconut oil’s high concentration of saturated fat and medium-chain triglycerides, which are fatty acids that have been shown to improve cognitive function in some scientific studies. Additionally, fatty acids are easily absorbed by the intestine and processed by the liver, where they are transformed into energy.

When it comes to topical application, studies have shown that coconut oil has certain antifungal, antibacterial, and antimicrobial properties. So coconut oil is a safe, nontoxic way to moisturize your dog’s skin and coat, while also helping to protect against infections caused by yeast and fungus. (Just keep in mind that coconut oil isn’t particularly effective for treating active skin infections—prescription medications are usually necessary for that.)

Coconut oil is a safe, nontoxic way to moisturize your dog’s skin and coat, while also helping to protect against infections caused by yeast and fungus.

The risks of coconut oil for dogs

Some vets worry that coconut oil may raise levels of LDL, or “bad cholesterol,” in dogs. And because a tablespoon of coconut oil contains 120 calories, it can be a fast way to add unnecessary calories to a dog’s diet. If you have an overweight or obese dog, you should probably avoid supplementing their diet with coconut oil because of its high fat content.

Is coconut oil poisonous for dogs?

No. Coconut oil is not poisonous for dogs, though some dogs are allergic to it.

How much coconut oil can I give my dog?

As a dietary supplement, coconut oil can be given to dogs 1 to 2 times a day, mixed into their meals. A good starting dose is ¼ teaspoon a day for small dogs and between a teaspoon and a tablespoon for big dogs.

A full daily dose of coconut oil can be calculated using the weight of your dog. Give your dog a teaspoon of coconut oil for every 10 pounds of weight. For bigger dogs, that works out to a tablespoon of coconut oil for every 30 pounds of weight.

Be aware that too much coconut oil too fast can result in diarrhea! Gradually build up to a full dose over 3 to 4 weeks.

After topical application of coconut oil, do I have to rinse off my dog?

No, you don’t have to rinse the coconut oil off your dog. As long as you’re using a pure, food-safe form, what’s great about coconut oil is that it’s a completely natural, nontoxic moisturizer. (Even people can use it on their skin and hair!) So it’s fine if your dog licks it off. Of course, if you’re worried about oil stains on your furniture or carpet, you can certainly rinse off your dog after you rub the coconut oil into his fur and skin.

One caveat: If you apply too much coconut oil to your dog and it’s licked off all at once, you might have to deal with a case of doggie diarrhea. You should also be aware of potential allergic reactions.

As long as you’re aware of the benefits and risks, coconut oil can be a healthy treat for your dog, both inside and out!

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