Coconut oil is a trendy item these days for both human consumers and canine consumers. But does it actually work for your dog? Follow along as I use coconut oil with my 6 year old golden retriever/black lab mix for 3 weeks to see if it actually does improve his health!
First off, a quick overview of this tropical white goodness. Coconut oil is a fat produced by the coconut fruit. Fats are necessary for nutrition, but there are many different kinds of fats present in food: long chain triglycerides (LCTs) and medium chain triglycerides (MCTs). LCTs are found in most oils and are fully saturated fats that are not healthy when consumed in large quantities, while MCTs are still saturated fats, but have been found to provide multiple healthy benefits when taken in moderation. Why is this? Fats are built from different acids and acids bring lots of power to the body depending on the type and the amount. Coconut oil contains a few different key acids that act as anti-fungals, anti-inflammatories and help assist the body in breaking down fats for more energy and more effective use (Scott, 2019). The major player in coconut oil is lauric acid, which acts as a potent anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and anti-viral (Reisin, 2017). So, the short answer? Yes, coconut oil is good stuff, for humans and for doggos!
Day 1: Well, he loves the taste. Ajax eats it plain! He also seems to somewhat enjoy when I rub it in his ears to clean them. I think it feels good on his irritated ears, poor old boy.
We are using an organic, unrefined coconut oil from our local natural foods store. I plop a spoonful into his bowl for each meal and he loves it. Coconut oil is high in calories (fat = more fuel than carbs or protein!) therefore it is important to avoid giving too much. My pup is already prone to obesity so I don’t want to have him going over his daily caloric limit. 1 tablespoon equals about 120 calories depending on the brand of coconut oil, so by lowering his food intake a little, one tablespoon of coconutty goodness creates a balanced diet for my little guy.
A note: If you have a pup who is already overweight or a pup prone to pancreatitis, coconut oil must be used very carefully and only after being cleared by a veterinarian. Too much fat in the diet can cause pancreatitis to flare up and pancreatitis can be fatal. Make sure you consult with your vet before adding this supplement if your pup has some existing conditions!
Day 7: Ajax has been taking coconut oil twice a day for a week now and his health has definitely improved! He has a little more energy, seems to be moving around more smoothly, and his coat is butter soft. For the first couple days he had a few loose stools, but once he adjusted to the addition to his regular food, his stools firmed up. For small dogs, I would recommend introducing a much smaller amount until you know they can tolerate it to avoid diarrhea or greasy stools.
Ajax has always suffered from itchy paws (allergies and fungal infections) and yeasty ears. Over the last week I’ve noticed that his ears and his paws seem much improved; his ears in particular. I’ve started rubbing coconut oil on his paws and a small amount in his ears.
Day 14: This past week we started giving coconut oil just once a day to see if any changes were directly related to the oil. There was definitely a significant drop in energy and overall mobility in my little guy 🙁 A routine visit to the vet resulted in a diagnosis of allergy flare up and yeast flare up in his ears. Needless to say, we are going to go back to twice a day. I was not as faithful with the paw and ear topical application this week and it shows! I’ll be going back to massaging the oil into his paws and ears again. My other dog, Kibeth, likes to lick any extra coconut oil on his ears and paws and it puts my mind at ease to know it is totally harmless for her to lick, unlike most topical meds!
Day 21: Our happy boy is back! His coat is sleek and soft after 3 weeks of coconut oil, his paws are conditioned and definitely less red and itchy, his ears are slowly improving again, and his overall health seems better. He also still loves eating his coconut oil and will gladly wait to eat his meal until it is plopped on top.
Overall, I’ve noticed the addition of coconut oil in moderation to be significantly beneficial to my pup! While not dramatic immediately, faithful application and administration shows multiple benefits. 🙂
Scott, Dana; Dogs Naturally Magazine; 2019;
Reisen, Jan; American Kennel Club; 2017
Hailing from sunny Southern California, Brianna is a Registered Nurse, former dog foster mom, and Marine Corps spouse. She enjoys beach trips, hikes, and any other various adventures with her two rescue pups, Kibeth and Ajax, as well as writing or reading about anything canine.
Dogs give us the purest physical example of unconditional love and pure unadulterated joy in the world.