How To Use Coconut Oil for Dogs

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Coconut oil has become one of the top recommended products, not just within human wellness circles, but also for pets too.

Coconut oil has some potential benefits to both humans and dogs, but these advantages should always be weighed against any ensuing risk.

Some studies suggest that taking coconut oil in small amounts can ease tummy problems, boost our immune system, improve cognitive ability, and soothe skin irritation.

While the huge chunk of research on coconut oil focuses on humans, the findings could also have promising implications for our canine companions.

We strongly recommend you consult with your veterinarian before offering this natural oil to your pet. Here’s how to use coconut oil for dogs to reap these benefits.




What Is Coconut Oil?

Coconut oil is a natural healthy fat derived from the white meat of a mature coconut fruit, harvested from the coconut palm tree.

The extraction process often leads to two types of this healthy fat, namely refined coconut oil and unrefined coconut oil (virgin coconut oil).

Virgin coconut oil is minimally processed, so it retains its distinct coconut flavor, unlike refined coconut oil which has a more neutral taste.

Coconut oil is primarily composed of unsaturated fats, with a huge chunk being medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs).

This healthy fat also contains small amounts of vitamins K, and E, as well as a few naturally-occurring antioxidants.




Is Coconut Oil Safe for Dogs?

Can dogs eat coconut oil? The simple answer is yes! Coconut oil is NOT toxic to dogs, so don’t be afraid if your dog ingests a tiny portion, but we recommend speaking to your vet about it.

French Bulldog sitting behind a coconut oil bottle
Image Credit: CocoTherapy from Instagram

It’s always recommended to introduce this nutritional goodie slowly while observing your dog’s reactions.

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Remember coconut oil is high in fat, meaning it can cause digestive discomfort or even pancreatitis when offered in large amounts.




How To Use Coconut Oil for Dogs

1. Direct consumption of coconut oil

How To Use Coconut Oil for Dogs.
Image Credit: Blue Coconut from Instagram

Offering coconut oil to your dog right from a tablespoon is one of the easiest ways to use it on your canine friend.

Start slowly by offering a tiny amount as you observe your dog’s reaction, before proceeding with direct consumption.

If your canine friend has no problem with the initial dosage, you can proceed to increase the amount over a few days or weeks.

A general guideline is to adjust the dosage based on your dog’s size and age. ¼ tablespoon can be a great starting point for small dogs while a full tablespoon can work well for large dogs.




2. Adding coconut oil to dog food

A curious dog overlooking some treats
Image Credit: Robin from Instagram

In consultation with your dog’s vet nutritionist, you can consider adding a tiny taste of coconut oil to your pup’s wet or dry foods.

Fresh coconut oil can infuse your dog’s ordinary kibble into a delicious treat for lunchtime snacking for quick energy.

Unlike some other fats, coconut oil is rich in medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). These MCTs bypass are absorbed directly from the intestines and then sent straight to the liver for quick metabolism.

Some studies with humans and rodents indicate that foods rich in MCFAs could help decrease body fat and potentially prevent weight gain. Along with this, MCFAs can provide an additional source of energy.




3. Coconut oil for canine dental care

Person brushing a dog's teeth
Image Credit: Paz & Lloyd from Instagram

Thanks to its high antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, coconut oil can be a good choice for cleaning your dog’s teeth.

Humans have practiced the good old practice of oil pulling using coconut oil for thousands of years to keep their teeth clean and glossy.

You can apply small amounts of coconut oil on your dog’s teeth and let it sit for about 15 – 20 minutes to ‘pull off’ the bad bacteria in your dog’s mouth.

We prefer using the virgin coconut oil version for oil pulling because it leaves a natural mild scent in the dog’s mouth to mask bad breath.

Coconut oil should not replace regular brushing, but it can help boost your dog’s oral care routine. Mix in a tiny amount of fresh coconut oil with baking soda to create a natural, mildly abrasive paste.

Gently brush your dog’s teeth with this mixture using a dog toothbrush or finger brush for about two or three times a week.




4. Coconut oil for dog minor wounds

A brown dog sitting in the woods
Image Credit: yappy_com from Instagram

This study led by Cahya Widianingrum shows that Virgin Coconut Oil (VCO) has powerful anti-viral, anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-bacterial properties.

We can, therefore, harness these properties to fight wound infections and promote faster healing of minor wounds, even for our furry friends.

Minor wounds with no bleeding such as cracked paw pads and minor cuts can be treated with a VCO topical application.

Remember coconut oil is for minor wounds only! Open wounds with bleeding or pus require immediate veterinary attention for proper treatment and infection control.




5. Coconut oil for dog’s skin

Some veterinarians shy away from recommending the topical application of coconut oil on dogs’ skin because of the potential risks.

While some studies show the benefit of coconut oil on human skin, more research is needed to support these hypotheses for our furry friends.

Applying anything, including coconut oil, on your dog’s skin should be done with proper caution because our canine friends tend to lick themselves quite often, and might ingest the substances.

While there is nothing wrong with ingesting coconut oil, too much of it might cause tummy problems or develop pancreatitis in severe cases.

Some canines can also develop allergic reactions on topical application of coconut oil, making the effort a zero-sum game.

If your vet gives you the green light to use coconut oil on your dog’s exterior, it can help keep the fur soft and shiny, provide anti-bacterial properties, and hydrate bare skin.

Dogs with extremely dry skin, or dandruff can benefit from the high lipid levels of coconut oil from topical application.

If you are planning to go for a hike along a wooded area with your canine companion, you can use coconut oil as a natural repellant for fleas and ticks during this adventure.

To apply coconut oil on your dog’s skin, rub a small amount on bare hands and gently massage the oil into your dog’s skin using your fingers.

For topical application, you can massage a small amount of coconut oil once a week and let it absorb for a few minutes.

Dog grooming
Image Credit: odeevizsla from Instagram

After about 5-10 minutes, rinse the area thoroughly with lukewarm water. If your dog still feels greasy, follow up with a gentle, coconut hypoallergenic dog shampoo and another rinse.




Conclusion

Coconut oil for dogs has potential health benefits including digestion aid, skin health, and organ support, but you should use it cautiously with advice from your veterinarian.

Have you tried this nutritious healthy fat goodness on your dog? Please let us know in the comments section below.

Written By

Laura is the founder of Furs'n'Paws. She is a also a pet writer and expert with more than 20 years of experience of working with dogs and cats. She developed a very strong love for animals at a young age. Her passion led her to establish a thriving pet sitting and dog walking business in Dubai. As an expert in pet training, behavior, and nutrition, Laura is committed to helping pet owners and pet lovers by offering high-quality information on a wide range of topics.

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