Virtually everyone has heard of the recent coconut oil craze. The substance is praised as a miracle elixir that can help resolve everything from dry hair and skin to inflammatory bowel disease.
While this is good news for humans, coconut oil’s health benefits may be exaggerated when it comes to pet health. Some holistic pet health sites claim it can prevent canine cancer, dental disease, thyroid conditions, and can help your pet lose weight. These claims are largely unfounded, and the last one is outright false.
Despite that, coconut oil does have some health benefits for pets.
How Coconut Oil May Benefit Your Dog
The key word here is “may.” More research is needed to determine how coconut oil can improve pet health. However, coconut oil does have some benefits for pets, and so far, evidence suggests that it can help treat certain symptoms. These include:
Mild skin conditions, such as dry or flaky skin
Inflammatory bowel disease
How to Use Coconut Oil Safely
Consult your veterinarian before giving coconut oil to your dog. They will discuss the benefits and risks of coconut oil with you.
Although coconut oil is safe for your dog to eat, avoid feeding your furry friend too much. Since it contains high amounts of saturated fat, it can make your dog gain weight. Dogs diagnosed with pancreatitis and hyperlipidemia should not ingest coconut oil, as it can worsen these conditions.
Coconut oil is best used as a topical application for dry skin. It may also work as a flea treatment. That’s because it contains lauric acid, a natural repellent for fleas and ticks. Many topical flea medications contain chemicals that are dangerous to ingest. With coconut oil, you won’t have to worry if your dog licks it off.
To use as a flea treatment, rub coconut oil onto your hands until it reaches a smooth consistency. Massage into your dog’s fur before brushing with a flea comb. The oil will cause the fleas to stick to the comb. Any remaining fleas will jump off your dog’s coat because of the coconut oil. It’s best to do this outside to prevent fleas from relocating into your furniture and clothing.
You can safely administer this treatment once a week. To make a flea spray, mix a tablespoon of coconut oil into a spray bottle of water, and use as needed.
Coconut Oil Supplements for Dogs
Coconut oil typically comes in its natural form, which has a cream-like consistency. Try to purchase extra virgin organic coconut oil that is certified safe for pets. Some products, like pet shampoo and pet wipes, contain small amounts of coconut oil.
Coconut oil is often advertised as a performance enhancer for dogs. That’s because it contains medium chain triglycerides, which are easier for the dog’s body to convert into energy. However, some products recommend that owners administer it in small doses on a continuous basis. This should be avoided because it can make your dog overweight.
Although it may be considered a miracle worker in humans, the jury is still out on how coconut oil benefits canine health. Always consult your vet before administering any supplements to your dog.