For thousands of years, coconut has been highly revered in Pacific Island folk medicine for it’s valuable natural healing properties. Only recently has coconut oil become the latest, hottest, all-natural trend for humans; but pet parents are also exploring it as a beneficial supplement for their four-legged companions.
And rightly so…
Coconut oil’s popularity as a natural remedy has grown exponentially in recent years because of its versatility in addressing a multitude of canine health conditions such as joint problems, diabetes & obesity, and skin irritations.
Coconut oil can also improve your dog’s brain energy metabolism and cognitive function by reducing buildup of brain lesion-causing amyloid proteins. These cerebral benefits aren’t limited to senior dogs whose brain functions are slowing down due to age–coconut oil is also advisable for young dogs whose mental functions are still growing into their prime.
Coconut Oil For Dogs
Healthy & Nutritious
The scientific name for coconut is Cocos nucifera. Early Spanish explorers called it ‘coco’, which means “monkey-face”–because the three eye-hole indentations on the outside of the hairy nut resembles the face of a monkey. Nucifera means ‘nut-bearing’.
A Delicious Functional Food
Coconut is classified as a ‘Functional Food’ because it is highly nutritious, containing vitamins, minerals and is high in fiber, and also provides numerous health benefits. Pacific Islanders treasure the medicinal healing properties so highly, they refer to coconut as ‘The Tree of Life’.
Coconut oil comes from the meat of coconuts harvested from the coconut palm tree. Coconut oil consists of at least 90% saturated fats, most of which are Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs). Although we’re used to thinking of fats as bad, MCTs are “good” fat and can provide several benefits, including being a source of fuel and energy.
Coconut oil is rich in a medium-chain fatty acid (MCFA) called Lauric acid. This substance is most commonly found in the milk of mother mammals, and one of its primary functions is to boost the immune system. That’s why coconut oil is so effective at helping to clear up bacterial and viral infections.
Lauric acid has also been shown to be preventative against some cancers & coconut oil is made up of over 40% Lauric acid–the richest natural source available. Other components of MCT oil, Capric acid & Caprylic acid, are known for their anti-microbial, anti-fungal effects.
The Science Behind Coconut Oil
While coconut possesses many health benefits due to the high-fiber and nutritional vitamin content, it’s the oil from the coconut that makes it a truly remarkable medicinal food source.
All fats & oils are composed of Fatty Acids–coconut oil is composed predominantly of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA), also known as medium-chain-fatty-acids (MCT). Medium chain fatty acids do not have a negative effect on cholesterol but rather offer protection against heart disease.
Medium chain fatty acids don’t go through the lymphatic system, and they don’t add to adipose tissue (fat deposits) so its doesn’t make you fat. In fact, coconut oil is a thermogenic oil, which boosts the metabolism, potentially helping your dog lose weight.
Health Benefits of Coconut Oil for Dogs
The list of potential benefits of coconut oil for dogs is lengthy and continues to grow as new research is published and the veterinary medical community begins to see the fervent interest dog owners have in wanting a more natural treatment to care for their loyal companions needing special care for skin irritations and difficult to treat allergic dermatitis.
Coconut Oil For Dogs Skin
Coconut oil can be very effective for dogs that suffer with dry, itchy skin, or chronic skin irritation due to allergic dermatitis where the skin surface is constantly red and inflamed.
Because coconut oil contains Lauric acid, it’s a phenomenal immune system builder–both when given orally or applied topically to your dog’ skin and coat. A once-a-week topical application of coconut oil can leave your dog’s skin incredibly healthy and soft.
For best results, hand apply coconut oil to your dog’s coat and gently rub into the skin in circular motions, allowing the oil to absorb for about five minutes. After the five minutes, you can remove any excess oil with a very light hand-rinse with a clean cloth.
These home therapies can help reduce skin flaking and improve the integrity of your dog’s skin. They also support the lipid barrier, which makes your dog’s skin healthier and more resistant to pathogens like yeast and opportunistic bacteria.
Coconut Oil For Dogs Itchy Skin
Coconut oil has antimicrobial, antifungal and antibacterial properties; thus can provide measurable benefits for your dog’s infectious, irritating skin conditions. Coconut oil can improve your dog’s skin health through two mechanisms: (1) enhancing immune system function and (2) promote better function of internal organ systems.
Dogs struggling with chronically dry, itchy skin, or flaky dandruff skin can be fed coconut oil orally or, as mentioned before, it can be used topically.
Benefits of Coconut Oil for Healthy Canine Skin & Coat:
- Clears up eczema
- Minimizes doggy odor
- Reduces allergic reactions
- Creates sleek and glossy coats
- Treats and prevents yeast & fungal infections (particularly Candida)
- Applied topically promotes healing from wounds and abrasions
- Helps with stings, bites and itchy contact dermatitis
- Treats and prevents ‘hot-spots’
In addition to all these health benefits, coconut oil moisturizes your dog’s skin giving their coat a lustrous, healthy glow.
Coconut Oil For Dogs Paws
Coconut Oil for Cracked Paws
Coconut oil is a wonderful natural topical antibiotic and a great alternative to chemical-based medications. Because of it’s antibacterial & antiviral properties it can be used directly on the skin to help heal cuts and wounds and keep them clear of infections.
Coconut oil has the ability to clear up skin conditions such as flea allergies, eczema, contact dermatitis, and irritated, itchy skin. Additionally, if your dog suffers from allergies and is constantly chewing on their ears or paws, coconut oil can be used to help heal these sores as well.
Used topically, coconut oil can promote the healing of hot spots, dry skin, bites and stings and open wounds and also soothes and heals dry cracked paws and elbows–it’s can even bring relief for the dry, cracked tip of your dog’s nose.
Many dog breeds have a tendency toward a dry, crusty nose condition called nasal hyper-keratosis. Dogs predisposed to this painful condition can benefit from topical application of coconut oil directly on the tip and bridge of the nose.
A great feature of coconut oil is that it is safe to eat, so you won’t have to worry if your dog licks it off. Other chemical-based medications can lead to a lot of issues if your dog accidentally ingests it.
Coconut Oil For Dogs Hot Spots
In addition to promoting healthier skin, coconut oil can help combat bacterial infections that may be responsible for ‘hot-spots’ on your dog’s body. Coconut oil can do wonders for your dog’s skin in terms of curing current conditions and preventing others from developing. One of the most common topical applications of coconut oil is for dogs with ‘hot-spots’.
If your dog suffers from chronic, recurring hot spots, especially if these seem to be due to mental or emotional causes, it’s best to consult your holistic veterinary practitioner who may recommend other natural remedies.
Skin conditions, such as contact dermatitis and hot-spots, are never just skin conditions–they always have an underlying cause and a hot spot is nothing but a symptom of that underlying disorder. That’s why it’s important to address the root cause of the hot spot, otherwise, it will just keep reappearing.
Hot spots can come on very suddenly and they usually spread fast, so you need to get the remedy onto your dog quickly when you notice a hot spot flare-up.
Conventional medicines (even the topical sprays your vet might want you to use) almost always work by suppressing the symptoms (in this case, the hot spot). Traditional medicines (ANTI-biotics, ANTI-fungals, ANTI-inflammatories) all work to treat the signs of the disease but do nothing to address what’s actually making your dog sick.
Coconut Oil For Hotspots On Dogs
What Are Hot Spots?
Hotspots are very painful for your dog, so preventing them should take top priority when it comes to your dog’s health. Hot spots are essentially an immune-mediated allergic response of your dog’s skin. They can appear as red, moist, irritated, sometimes oozy skin lesions that can occur anywhere on your dog.
Also known as acute moist dermatitis, hot spots can be caused by an allergic reaction from a bug bite, poor grooming habits or another underlying disease. They can even be caused by boredom or stress in your dog. Thick or long haired dog breeds are more susceptible and are most often affected by hot-spot areas.
Hot spots also tend to appear suddenly, with little or no warning. If they’re untreated, they can also spread very fast. So if you see one on your dog, it’s important to get treatment started right away. Whatever the cause, there are always safe and effective natural treatments.
But before choosing a solution, you’ll need to understand the cause of your dog’s hot spots.
What Causes Hot Spots In My Dog?
Determining the cause of your dog’s hot-spots requires a little detective work–
Look back at your dog’s recent history and ask yourself these questions:
- Could my dog have been bitten or stung by an insect?
- Is his coat tangled and matted in the area of the hot spot so the skin underneath can’t breathe?
- Has he eaten anything unusual that might have caused an allergic reaction?
- Has my dog been exposed to environmental allergies like grasses, pollen or molds – or even scummy pond water – that might have caused a reaction?
- Does he have a painful sore spot such as an achy hip or knee that he’s been licking or chewing?
- Does he have fleas? (flea allergy dermatitis can also cause hot spots).
Or maybe there’s an emotional component causing distress;
- Is your dog getting enough exercise and mental stimulation or is he habitually left alone and gets bored?
- Does he get upset being home alone or is there some other change in his home situation that could have caused stress?
Once you know what’s causing the hot spots, you can address it with the appropriate intervention.
Whether that’s antibiotics for acute symptom relief or the use of natural therapies like coconut oil that’s much safer and possibly more effective for your dog than conventional medicines. Natural solutions can help solve the issue that’s causing your dog’s hot spots, whereas most conventional “anti” medicines (such as antibiotics) just suppress the hot spot temporarily, but you’ll see it return later.
Due to its antiviral and antibacterial properties, coconut oil can disinfect cuts, promote wound healing, reduce allergic reactions and overall improve the health and resiliency of your dog’s skin.
Topically, coconut oil can soothe and heal dry cracked paws, promote the healing of wounds & insect bites and bring relief of hot spots. Coconut oil also prevents against fleas and ticks.
Coconut Oil For Dogs Fleas
“Will You Stop Scratching?”
Possibly the most dreaded causes of itching and scratching in dogs are, of course–fleas and mites!
Studies show that using coconut oil for fleas on dogs offers a stronger “repellency” with longer lasting residual activity that that of DEET. In addition, the repellency was also found effective against mosquitos.
One of the most frequently listed benefits of coconut oil for dogs is as a parasite repellent. And there’s actually some promising evidence to back this up. A small study in Brazil in 2004 found that a coconut oil-based remedy was effective in some ways to repel sand fleas and reduce the inflammation associated with their bites.
Another 2013 study in the Philippines found that coconut oil could play an effective role in treating mange and scabies. Unfortunately no trials have been carried out yet against our most common parasitic enemy–the itchy cat flea (yes, most of your dog’s fleas are actually cat fleas!).
Remember, fleas are not as attracted to healthy animals–therefore, it’s extremely important to feed your dog a nutritionally balanced, species-appropriate, fresh food diet that will help keep her immune system functioning optimally.
How Much Coconut Oil For Dogs?
Coconut oil is good for dogs and can help aid your pets’ digestion, improve their coats, help prevent infection and more.
However, as with most things, too much of even a good thing can end up having negative effects. Coconut oil is generally safe for dogs, but you should exercise caution, as there may be some side effects.
It’s OK to directly feed coconut oil to pets, but take note that the amount of coconut oil that you can give to dogs will depend on their weight. Ideally, for every 10 pounds of body weight, give your pet a quarter-teaspoon of coconut oil twice a day added to their food.
In addition, careful monitoring for weight gain must be done if you’re feeding coconut oil to an overweight or obese pet due to its high amounts of fat. If this is the case, feed your pet coconut oil only once a day or reduce the amount of food you are feeding to account for the increased calories in coconut oil.
Start with a tiny dab and gradually increase the amount of coconut oil once your pet’s system adjusts to it. Doing so may help prevent greasy stools, upset stomach or diarrhea, which are side effects of giving too much coconut oil to your pet all at once–moderation is crucial.
Owners of pets with pancreatitis will be glad to know that lipase enzyme is not required for the body to digest coconut oil–so it’s safe for pets with a history of pancreatitis, however, if your pet requires a low-fat diet, you must exercise caution as coconut oil is high in calories.
So if your pet gains weight easily or metabolizes fat ineffectively, use coconut oil sparingly.
Coconut Oil On Dogs
A Treasure Trove of Holistic Healing
As caring pet parents we all want the best for our beloved four-legged friends. When your dog develops an ailment of any kind, it can be incredibly stressful. Conventional medications, while certainly necessary to some degree, can put an enormous amount of undue stress on your dog’s body.
Coconut oil offers dog owners an all-natural alternative to eliminate potentially harmful adverse reactions. Coconut oil has such a wide range of health benefits for dogs, from improving skin health, enhancing the immune system, preventing fleas and helping heal wounds, it would be next to impossible to find a conventional medication with such wide ranging support for your dog’s overall health.
And it doesn’t end there–
Simply adding coconut oil to your dog’s diet can help balance the body’s thyroid and help with weight loss. Research has found that incorporating MCT into your dog’s diet will help with their weight gain and can potentially decrease the size of fat deposits.
Furthermore, coconut oil will give your dog an immediate boost of energy that enhances their athletic performance and aids with weight loss. In the end, coconut oil is a Functional Food with a rich history that should be added to your dog’s daily food intake for healthier skin and coat.