HEALTH & CARE

How Much Coconut Oil Can I Give My Dog: A Quick Guide to Coconut Oil and Its Benefits for Dogs

Artistic image presenting coconut oil on a table
John Walton
Written by John Walton

In the pursuit of giving the best care to their pet dogs, many pet owners have stumbled upon coconut oil. Hailed as a super-healthy food item, many of us still wonder if coconut oil will do our dogs more harm than good, especially if they are already having trouble with weight control. The good thing is, as long as you know the answer to the question: “how much coconut oil can I give my dog,” your dog will definitely be able to reap all the benefits that coconut oil has to offer and none of the downsides.

Coconut oil is probably one of the hottest and healthiest food items we have today, able to give many benefits to humans and their pet dogs alike. For dogs, the nutrient content in coconut oil does wonders for their skin and coat. Because the fat contained in coconut oil is the beneficial type and not the harmful type, it won’t add to your dog’s weight. Rather, it could very well help reduce your dog’s weight.

Image showing coconut oil made for dogs

In this article, we will talk more about what makes coconut oil good for our pet dogs, and how it will affect them. Also, we will talk about the proper ways to give coconut oil to them. In case you’re worried about an overdose, don’t because we will also talk about the right amount of coconut oil to give.

The “Good” Fat

Coconut oil can be used in a variety of ways, including as a health supplement, to cook food, as a natural moisturizer and hair conditioner, and even as a homemade deodorant. This seemingly simple food item, which is derived from, of course, coconuts, looks just like any other oil. But don’t let the looks fool you—it’s packed with nutrients.

To those who think that coconut oil is bad because it is fatty, it really isn’t as long as it is given in the right amounts. This wonder oil contains fats that are considered “conditionally essential,” which means that for certain circumstances or conditions, they are greatly beneficial. Such circumstances include pregnancy and the early growth period.

coconut oil and fresh coconuts on old wooden table

Coconut oil contains Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT), also known as Medium Chain Fatty Acids (MCFA). MCT is made up of a variety of healthy acids, such as Caprylic Acid, Capric Acid, and Lauric Acid. As something that is actually found in human breast milk as well as the breast milk of other mammals, MCT is a “good fat,” and brings with it a host of benefits. Unfortunately, coconut oil is not an Omega-3 oil. But it does possess nutrients that can greatly benefit dogs.

Now that we have established the beneficial nutrient contents found in coconut oil, we’re going to explain more about the ways they benefit our dogs.

How Coconut Oil Benefits Our Dogs

Coconut oil, as earlier stated, helps our dogs in many ways. A higher level of MCT consumption in dogs has been known to:

Help Improve Digestion

Coconut oil heightens metabolism and improves digestion. It also helps in nutrient absorption, aids in the healing of digestive disorders such as colitis and inflammatory bowel syndrome, and helps with coughing caused by heartburn.

a man feeding-dog with coconut-oil

Coconut oil is also an effective solution to reduce or eliminate bad breath as it expels and kills parasites in the digestive system.

Improve the Immune System

Coconut oil consumption supports the immune system, thus protecting the dog from illnesses, and speeds up natural healing. A higher level of coconut oil consumption may even lower risks of cancer. It also helps prevent infection and disease thanks to the powerful antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal agents contained in Lauric Acid, Capric Acid, and Caprylic Acid.

Boost Endocrine/Metabolic System

Coconut oil provides an immediate source of fuel and energy, thus giving a higher level of vitality. This helps sedentary dogs feel energetic so the dog can lose weight. Not just that, it also helps regulate and balance insulin, which is very important for the prevention and control of diabetes. It also promotes a normal thyroid function.

Image showing a happy-dog-running

An abnormal thyroid function can be the reason why your dog is putting on extra weight or is having allergic reactions. It may also cause your dog to shed excessively, which is why coconut oil also assists with ensuring skin and coat health.

When applied topically, it promotes the healing of cuts and wounds. It can also help with hot spots, dry skin, and hair, as well as bites and stings. It is also good for disinfecting cuts, soothing dry cracked paws, and elbow calluses, and may even minimize dog odor.

Supports the Musculoskeletal System

Coconut oil helps in building strong bones. It also eases inflammation, which is especially important for older dogs. It can also help with arthritis discomfort.

Other Benefits

Coconut oil can also promote good nerve and brain function, prevent dementia, improve oral health as it can be used to clean teeth, help clear up ear infections and eye infections if applied topically.

Image presenting a Happy-dog

With regular use, coconut oil can give your dog so many benefits. Now that we’ve understood the benefits this wonder oil has to offer, we’ll proceed to the ways we can give it to our dog.

How to Use Coconut Oil on Dogs

Coconut oil can be given internally or orally, or simply applied topically to the skin. It can be given to puppies and grownup dogs alike, but the amount given orally should be determined carefully.

Oral Dosage

Generally, coconut oil can be given orally up to two times per day. Before giving coconut oil to your dog, however, do make sure to check with your vet. This is especially important if your dog has a health condition, or if the dog is still a very young and thus vulnerable puppy.

If you’re just starting, begin by giving small amounts to your dog. You can do this by putting the oil in his food, or simply letting him lick it out of a spoon. Start with 1/4 teaspoon per day for puppies and small dogs, or one teaspoon for larger dogs. If your dog has a sensitive constitution, though, opt to give a very small amount—just a dab—to start.

Allow your dog to adjust to the addition of coconut oil in their diet. It has benefits, but if you give too much too early, your dog could suffer from diarrhea, greasy stools, or even have flu-like symptoms.

Image showing a spoon full of coconut oil

After your dog has adjusted to the coconut oil, you can give increasing amounts until you reach the optimum daily quota. The optimum amount would be about 1 teaspoon if your dog weighs 10 pounds or less, or about 1 tablespoon per 30 pounds.

Since coconut oil is not an Omega-3 oil, it would be a good to rotate it with an Omega-3 oil such as fish, krill or flaxseed, on different meals or on alternate days. If you’re giving coconut oil to your dog for medicinal purposes, do ask your vet for the recommended optimal amount that’s been tailored to fit your dog’s needs.

Topical Applications

Coconut oil can also be applied topically as a solution for a host of skin problems as well as for a few other external issues, such as eye and ear infections. Generally, you can apply coconut oil topically by rubbing a very small amount onto your hands, gently patting them on your dog’s coat, running your fingers through the fur, and gently massaging it into the skin.

Image showing coconut products on a table

And since coconut oil is perfectly safe to be consumed orally, you shouldn’t worry about your dog licking the oil on his coat. How you should apply coconut oil topically may differ based on what you’re using it for, however. For example:

Topical Usage #1: Insects-Repellent

If you want your dog to be free from fleas, ticks, and other insects, especially when you go out for a walk, you can rub coconut oil onto your dog’s coat before going out. This will help repel such insects away from your pet, allowing you to take him out for a walk in the woods without worry. You can do this weekly, or as often as needed if you’re the type to go out with Fido most of the time. Do this more often in summer.

Topical Usage #2: Coat Shininess

Rubbing or brushing coconut oil into your dog’s fur also makes his coat soft and shiny. If you want your pet to have a fabulous coat, take extra care to rub this oil in once a week.

Image showing a dog with a shiny coat in a forest

After applying the oil to your dog’s skin, let it absorb for about five minutes before applying a very light rinse. Excess oil can be removed this way.

Topical Usage #3: Yeasty Skin Solution

You can also use coconut oil to treat your dog’s yeasty skin if he has such a problem. Mix about 8 ounces of melted coconut oil with 10 drops of lavender oil and 2 drops of lemon essential oil, then massage it into your dog’s skin about once a week or more, if needed. This mixture will last a few months. Just be sure to keep it in a tightly closed jar placed somewhere dark.

Topical Usage #4: Ear and Eye Infection Solution

Coconut oil can also be used to treat eye and ear infections. To do this, simply melt the coconut oil and use it as eye drops. Don’t ever rub your dog’s eye with the melted oil. Use the same melted oil topically on your dog’s ears if he has ear infections.

In Cooking

Coconut oil is very stable even at high temperatures. This means you can substitute it for other oils when cooking or baking treats for your dogs to make it healthier. You can also toss meats, vegetables, or fruits in coconut oil before you dehydrate them to give as dehydrated treats for your pet. Or you can add it directly in your dog’s food bowl.

Adding coconut oil to your dog's food will give their immune system a boost and keep them healthy.

Coconut oil, when added to your dog’s food, can help eliminate parasites living in his digestive system. Give him the recommended daily supplemental amounts and see the difference. Alternatively, you can add dried, unsweetened coconut meat to your dog’s food. Just add about 1 tablespoon to 1/4 cup, depending on your dog’s size.

You can crack coconuts open yourself, or you can save yourself the trouble and opt to buy fresh or dried coconut meat instead. Just be sure to get the unsweetened kind. One cup of fresh shredded coconut meat has about 2 tablespoons of coconut oil, while a cup of dried shredded coconut meat has about 3.5 tablespoons.

What Kind of Coconut Oil Should I Give My Dog?

In choosing the right coconut oil to give to your pet, you should go for Virgin or Extra Virgin coconut oil, especially organic varieties that are sold in a glass jar. There’s a type of coconut oil called RBD (which means refined, bleached and deodorized). This variety goes through heating and filtering, and might have fewer nutrients compared to the Virgin and Extra Virgin varieties, but can be more favorable to dogs who don’t like the other two’s stronger taste.

Extra Virgin coconut oil on a wooden table

Generally, you won’t have to worry about your dog disliking coconut oil, though. Many dogs like how it tastes and your dog might even want to lick the spoon dry. However, if your dog really hates coconut oil for one reason or another, don’t give up too soon because there are other ways to let your dog enjoy the benefits of coconut.

You can give them coconut water. As long as you purchase coconut water without the added sugar or chemicals, it is fine to give this to your dog. In fact, coconut water is a great source of electrolytes. These will effectively rehydrate your dog on a hot summer day.

Wrap Up

And there you have it. I hope this article helps ease your concerns and answer your questions about giving coconut oil to your dog. Generally, coconut oil has only good things to offer to your dog. Although, there are some things you should keep in mind.

Image showing a woman giving coconut oil to her dog

Although coconut oil is generally safe for dogs, some might have allergic reactions to it. It would be best if you could consult the vet first before giving coconut oil to your dog because each dog is an individual and may have different reactions to coconut oil. But one thing’s for sure: you should avoid giving it to dogs with pancreatitis orally due to its high fat content.

Did you like what you read? Do you have some coconut oil experiences of your own to share? Hit the comments section below!

About the author
John Walton
John Walton

John Walton lives in Somerville, MA, with his two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. He is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, an AKC Certified CGC Evaluator, and the Training Director for the New England Dog Training Club.

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