People are always curious about adding coconut oil to their dog’s diet. This is because coconut oil is perceived to have many beneficial uses for dogs and humans alike.
Whether it be an ingredient in a dog’s food, or mixed in separately, it may have some positive effects on a dog’s overall health. Some of these benefits include increasing metabolism, cardiac benefits, and better cognition.
Because of its unique properties and fatty acid makeup, coconut oil is also known to aid in digestion and dental health.
But is coconut oil safe for dogs? If so, how much should you use? What are all of its benefits?
Just like their human counterparts, dogs can reap the rewards of having coconut oil in their diet if done wisely. This article is your ultimate guide to coconut oil and all of its understood benefits for dogs, along with how to effectively use it.
The Benefits of Coconut Oil for Dogs
Inflammation is a growing problem in dogs, mainly due to the highly inflammatory diets they have. This can lead to symptoms such as inflamed joints, dry skin, and digestive issues such as bloating and constipation.
The inflammation may be eased by having coconut oil in a dog’s diet. According to a study by the National Institutes of Health, coconut oil has been shown to enhance the anti-inflammatory properties of cells [*].
Specifically, coconut oil’s anti-inflammatory effect on joints may be due to the polyphenols it contains. Some research suggests that these antioxidants naturally found in coconut oil may be able to help with some symptoms of arthritis.
Antioxidants are believed to prevent cells from oxidizing, therefore preventing cell death.
Polyphenols from coconut oil in this study reduced swelling and several inflammatory indicators in lab rats [*]. Even the animal’s paw tissue showed less edema (puffiness caused by excess fluid trapped in the body's tissues) symptoms when treated with polyphenols from coconut oil.
Another study found that the MCTs in coconut oil inhibit free radical formation, which protects against cell oxidation to extend your dog's life [*].
To get the best possible results, you may want to start mixing coconut oil in with your dog’s food, or select a food that has coconut oil listed in its ingredient panel. Take a look at this guide to see the appropriate amount for your dog.
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Is Coconut Oil Safe for Dogs?
Several studies have been conducted on whether coconut oil safe for dogs. All studies have shown that coconut oil is not only safe but that dogs who have coconut oil in their diets may achieve improved overall energy metabolism.
An improved energy metabolism may lead to a healthier rate of fat usage as fuel, and creates an environment where fat storage is less likely. In this study by the National Institutes of Health, coconut oil supplemented with dog’s food was shown to increase the likelihood of fat being used for energy expenditure, and decreasing the oxidation of good cells [*].
When a cell oxidizes, free radicals such as superoxide, hydroxyl radical and hydrogen peroxide are generated at high levels inducing cellular damage and cell death in dogs. This may lead to tissue destruction and early signs of aging.
Adding coconut oil to their diet may have a positive correlation with your dog living longer. This is because the medium chain triglycerides found in abundance in coconut oil are used very efficiently by a dogs body, and also prevent good cells from oxidizing.
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How Much Coconut Oil Should Dogs Eat?
The high cholesterol factor has always been an issue for dogs. Many dog foods have cheap, questionable sources of fat which are used only because they are cost-efficient.
Because of this, we tend to see a trend of overweight dogs that often have high levels of “bad" cholesterol. High LDL cholesterol can introduce a multitude of problems for your dog, including high blood pressure and risk of cardiac arrest.
Lower activity levels combined with cheap, by-product infused food only contributes to this problem. But new research on adding MCT rich coconut oil may be one way to solve this problem.
Along with increased activity, coconut oil added to your dogs food may help. This study by the National Institutes of Health found that coconut oil was effective at lowering “bad” LDL and triglyceride levels and raising “good” HDL levels[*].
👉 Go deeper on this topic: How Much Coconut Oil for Dogs? Science-Based Daily Dosages →
Can Coconut Oil Help with Digestion?
Constipation and bloating in dogs can occur when a dog eats too much non-fibrous, binding food like an abundance of white rice or processed starches. Constipation can also occur when a dog ingests non food matter, such as bones or pieces of chew toys.
When this happens, it can mean days of not having a bowel movement. If left alone, this can become a potentially life threatening situation. If this describes your dog’s situation, you should always consult with a veterinarian.
Coconut oil can also play a key role in reducing gut inflammation and easing constipation in dogs. While there are no known scientific studies behind this, anecdotal evidence suggests that coconut oil can ease the strain of constipation in dogs by gently lubricating the large intestine.
Coconut oil’s aforementioned anti-inflammatory properties may also help with a dog’s bloating issues.
To help alleviate this problem, it is suggested that you should mix the appropriate amount of coconut oil in with your dogs food to help ease constipation. Having a dog food with coconut oil in it may help or prevent this problem in general.
👉 Go deeper on this topic: Coconut Oil for Dogs with Constipation: Does It Work? →
Is Coconut Oil Effective for Cleaning Dogs’ Teeth?
Coconut oil is partially made up of a group of fatty acids known as medium chain triglycerides, or MCTs. Some of these MCTs can act as anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory agents, namely, lauric acid..
Lauric acid in coconut oil is a natural source of anti-bacterial properties. Studies have shown that lauric acid can inhibit bad bacteria from forming, as well as reverse the growth of existing bacteria.
When ingested, lauric acid breaks down into a compound called monolaurin. Monolaurin and lauric acid as a whole have been shown to kill harmful bacteria, fungi and viruses in dogs' bodies.
Because of its natural antimicrobial properties, coconut oil can act as a powerful weapon against gingivitis in dogs, and maintain overall healthy teeth and gums.
Coconut oil is understood to decrease plaque buildup on teeth and help fight gum disease[*]. In one study by the National Institutes of Health, coconut oil had drastically reduced both plaque and gingivitis numbers by over 50%.
If you are concerned about your dog’s dental health, two minutes of brushing per day can be helpful. You can repeat this multiple times per day if deemed necessary. Having coconut oil in your dog’s food may help as well.
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Coconut Oil for Dogs: The Ultimate Conclusion
Scientific studies have shown that coconut oil may have a plethora of benefits when included in a dog’s diet.
If you have a daily exercise regimen and also have coconut oil in your dog’s food, it may help them remove excess pounds, as well as help lower a dog’s bad LDL cholesterol.
Coconut oil in your dog’s diet can also prevent constipation and relieve bloating. The antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effects of coconut oil may also help a dog maintain good gut health overall.
We can get all of these benefits if we sensibly add coconut oil to our dog’s diet, or feed our dogs a food that has a substantial amount of coconut oil in it already. Here is a dog food with coconut oil that we recommend.