Coconuts are largely considered one of the healthiest foods around. From its flesh down to its water, it contains a lot of vitamins, electrolytes, and minerals necessary for health. Its oil is also used in many applications whether it is for culinary or medicinal purposes. Dogs, too, can benefit from the introduction of coconut oil into their diets or applied onto their coat and skin as this is naturally rich in medium-chain triglycerides that can help promote healthier and shinier coat, prevent liver disease, reduce stress, and provide energy. However, not all coconut oil products are manufactured in the same way. There will always be products of mediocre quality. Hence, it is important that you know how to choose the best coconut oil for dogs. To point you in the right direction, we have here some of the canine world’s best and most trusted coconut oils. Check them out.
Coconut Oil for Dogs Guide
When you go to your favorite grocery store or even health food shop you’ll most likely be presented with a host of products that technically look the same. After all, they are all made of coconut oil, right? So how different can one product be from the rest if it is essentially composed of the same principal ingredient? As it turns out, much of the difference lies in the manufacturing process upon which these products are subjected to. Here, we will examine some of the things that you really need to keep in mind when shopping for the most appropriate coconut oil for your pooch.
Natural or Refined?
One of the things that you will find in these products is that they are available in either natural or refined. Technically, they both contain medium chain triglycerides. However, because of the differences in manufacturing processes, one will often have a much lower concentration of MCTs compared to the other. To understand the unique differences between these products, it is important to understand the different processes involved in making coconut oil.
- Natural or Unrefined – Natural products do not undergo considerable processing. In fact, they are often derived using a wet-milling process that extracted the oil from the flesh or meat of fresh mature coconuts. The oil content of the coconut milk is separated from the water using a variety of methods including fermentation (the best method), boiling, refrigeration, mechanical centrifugation, and enzymatic reaction. Studies show that coconut oil extracted through this very traditional, age-old fermentation method is the best way to retain the full nutritional profile of the coconut oil including a full spectrum of fatty acids and antioxidants.
Other natural methods included drying the coconut meat first before they are ‘pressed’ to extract the oil. This offered the ability to mass produce coconut oil as doing it the traditional wet milling process somehow reduced the efficiency of production. Unfortunately, however, one can only produce a limited amount of oil using the wet milling method.
Be very careful about brands that are labeled as ‘cold pressed’. While these are processed using the natural method or wet milling, most are often accomplished in combination with other methods. This is to allow for the mass production of coconut oil while maintaining a fairly high amount of antioxidants and fatty acids. Again, even cold pressing technology is no match to the age-old tradition of fermenting coconut oil.
Sadly, many have begun to equate cold-pressing technology to be far superior. It is, of course, especially when compared to refined oils. However, if you could get your hands on coconut oil that is done in an old-fashioned way, you’d be better off with this. Regrettably, it really is very rare to find one, unless you can travel to some far-flung community in the Philippines and let them make you one.
- Refined – As the name implies, refined coconut oil has undergone some serious processing before it is made available for consumption. These are often made from the dried kernel of coconuts known as copra. The extracted oil from copra has to undergo purification to make it more suitable for consumption. Hence, it is refined.
- Hydrogenated – There was a time when hydrogenated coconut oil was abundant in market shelves. These contained trans fatty acids that have been found to be unhealthy versions of fat. Good thing these are now mostly found in candy bars that depend on a non-melting coconut oil.
- Fractionated – These are also known as MCT oil. The term fractionated comes from the fact that coconut oil has to be processed further to remove its lauric acid content so you only get the medium chain triglycerides. In fact, what you may find appealing in fractionated coconut oil is that it stays liquid even at lower temperatures where conventional coconut oils will already turn solid.
Virgin or Extra Virgin?
First and foremost, coconut oil IS NOT olive oil where you can have virgin and extra virgin classification. Science has shown that there is actually no difference between virgin coconut oil (VCO) and extra virgin coconut oil (EVCO). So what’s the difference then? To be frank, it’s all a marketing ploy to help drive sales to a product that is sufficiently priced higher than a similar product that only has a VCO label.
But in all actuality, it makes perfect sense. If extra virgin olive oil can command a higher price tag because of its supposedly higher nutrient profile, then it should work particularly well for a coconut oil that has the same labeling. Just try looking at the price of a VCO and an EVCO and you’ll see a substantial difference. Now, if you were the company that produces VCO and you would like to get a better bottom line, would you not also put the EVCO label on your products?
That being said, you will definitely fare a lot better with a VCO product. It has essentially the same nutrient profile as an EVCO but with a price advantage, you will love. If anything, it is the difference between natural and refined that you have to focus on.
There is a growing concern on genetically modified organisms being included into a variety of products, coconut oils for dogs included. While there are a lot of conflicting claims as to the advantages and disadvantages of GMO products, it will be a lot better to stay on the safe side until such time that even the scientific community stands united in saying that GMO products are safe or otherwise.
- Certified Organic
Technically, organic products are those that are grown and harvested using very traditional methods of propagation and farming. While other companies use pesticides and fertilizers, these organic products are sourced naturally from the environment. True organic farmers don’t use artificial or synthetic chemicals to get rid of pests or make the soil fertile for coconut trees to grow.
That said, while coconuts may have been sourced from natural farms, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is already organic. It is possible that even natural products may require some form of artificial assistance such as minimal chemical pesticides and the like. So, ascertaining the organic certification of a coconut oil for dogs is crucial to ensuring the safe use of such products on your pet.
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Benefits of Coconut Oil for Dogs
Coconut oil is highly regarded as one of the healthier versions of fat that we can either include in our diets or apply to specific organs of our body such as the skin and hair. Because of the many health benefits of these kinds of products to man, it is natural to think that it should also be good for our pooches. But exactly what are the benefits of coconut oil for dogs?
The coconut oil benefits for your pet dog are inherently related to the excellent concentration of medium chain triglycerides in the oil. These types of lipids have been well-studied to provide a host of advantages over other types of fats. Medium chain triglycerides also contain lauric acid, which has been shown to exhibit antimicrobial properties. We’ve summarized the coconut oil benefits in the following.
- Skin and coat health
One of the proven coconut oil benefits to dogs is an improvement in their coat and skin health. Coconut Oil has been used in the management of canine eczema, contact dermatitis, itchy skin, and even flea allergies. It has also been shown to be especially effective in mitigating skin allergies while improving the overall health of the skin. Coconut oil can also help make a canine’s coat sleeker, healthier, shinier, and glossier. Plus, it can also help moisturize or hydrate hair. In many instances, the lauric acid content of coconut oil has been used in the prevention and treatment of fungal infections as well as the infestation of mites, fleas, and ticks. Additionally, it can also help disinfect wounds or cuts while promoting faster wound healing. High-quality VCO can also help get rid of the characteristic odor of dogs while allowing dry and cracked paw pads to heal more efficiently.
- Better digestive health
The medium chain triglycerides of coconut oil have been proven to improve the ability of the canine digestive system to absorb various nutrients while also improving overall digestive processes. It can also aid in the reduction of symptoms associated with colitis and inflammatory bowel syndrome as well as other disorders of the digestive tract. Dogs that have intestinal parasites will benefit from an oral administration of coconut oil as its lauric acid content can help kill and expel these microorganisms from the gut. Coconut oil is also helpful in eliminating bad breath which can stem from bacteria that have colonized the gastrointestinal tract.
- Enhanced immune system functioning
Lauric acid, as we have already said has antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties that can help boost the ability of your pet to ward off infections. There are also studies that show it might even help reduce the risk of developing certain forms of cancer.
- Better metabolism
One of the well-known benefits of coconut oil among humans is its ability to balance and regulate the action of insulin to help manage diabetes. It is also through its metabolic activity that coconut oil is believed to be helpful in losing weight. As such, obese dogs and canines that are predisposed to diabetes can benefit from the consumption of coconut oil.
- Musculoskeletal health
The antioxidants that come with natural coconut oil have anti-inflammatory properties which can be beneficial in reducing the symptoms associated with arthritis and other disorders affecting the joints of dogs. As a result, this can come in handy especially for larger pooches as they are more susceptible to bone and joint problems.
- Nervous system health
The MCTs that coconut oil has can help prevent senile dementia or forgetfulness in dogs while also improving their overall cognitive functioning.
Taking Care of Your Dog’s Paws with Coconut Oil
Coconut oil has amazing antimicrobial and moisturizing properties that work exceptionally well on dry and cracked paw pads. The MCTs, antioxidants and lauric acid of coconut oil can work their wonder on these dry tissues by hydrating them back to life and killing the microorganisms that may already be living within the cracks of the paw pads. It is often recommended that you apply generous amounts of coconut oil onto the paw pads and massage these gently to help bring back the more efficient circulation of blood.
Q: How Much Coconut Oil Should I Give My Dog?
A: There are no standards when it comes to coconut oil supplementation in dogs. However, to answer your question how much coconut oil should I give my dog, it is generally recommended that you can start with about 1 milliliter or about ¼ teaspoon of VCO for every 10 pounds of its body weight given daily. For large breeds, you can start with a teaspoon. This is to help avoid the passing of loose stools. Gradually increase the dosage until you reach about 5 mL or 1 teaspoon, or a tablespoon for large dogs, for every 10 pounds of your pet’s body weight per day.
However, if you intend to use coconut oil for therapeutic purposes, you may wish to double the dosage. Again, it is crucial to start with the smallest possible amount, working your way to its recommended dosage.
Q: Can I Use Coconut Oil on My Dog’s Skin and Coat?
A: As we have already discussed, one of the benefits of coconut oil in dogs is related to their skin and coat health. As such, it is perfectly alright and is actually recommended to apply some onto your pet’s coat and massage onto its skin. The best way to do it is to apply liberal amounts of your chosen product and leave it there for about 5 to 10 minutes before washing and rinsing it off. Applying coconut oil onto your pet’s skin and coat can bring the life and shine back into this part of your canine friend’s body.
Q: How to Give Your Dog Coconut Oil
A: There are a variety of ways in which you can give coconut oil to your dog. Here are some of the more common ways.
- Simply mix the coconut oil with their regular food. Just make sure to follow the recommended dosing.
- You can use it as a doggie treat where you can easily give them their favorite treats that have been coated with coconut oil.
- Generally, dogs love the taste and texture of coconut oil and as such, you can give this to them using a teaspoon or a tablespoon.
- For topical applications, coconut oil can be applied onto the coat and the skin in liberal amounts massaged gently and left to be absorbed before rinsing.
Just as coconut oil is beneficial for humans, it can also provide the same host of benefits for your dog. However, it is important to choose only those that are unrefined and contain no harmful ingredients. Since they are essentially the same thing, it won’t matter if the coconut oil is virgin or extra virgin.
Q: How often should I give my dog coconut oil?
A: Coconut oil, for all its wonderful benefits both to us and man’s best friend, needs to be taken in moderation. This is especially true in the case of our beloved pets that are more prone to obesity than others. While it is true that coconut oil contains medium-chain triglycerides that are way healthier than saturated fats, these are still fats that are exceptionally concentrated with calories. As such, if you fail to make the necessary adjustments in your pet’s diet, you are essentially courting canine obesity and an entire list of diseases and complications associated with the condition.
With regards to the frequency of using coconut oil on your dog, it all depends on the purpose of the application or the consumption. If the only reason for using coconut oil on your pet is to relieve or soothe hot spots or excessively irritated skin, then you should apply coconut oil every day until the problem is resolved.
Sometimes, your vet may also recommend a different frequency of application especially for mild to moderate skin conditions in dogs that may respond well to coconut oil application. In such instances your vet may order a twice a day or even three times a day application, often depending on the severity of the condition, the presence of other therapies, and the overall response of your dog to the treatment.
If the purpose of giving coconut oil to your dog is to obtain a more generalized, health-promotion effect, you will still need to give the formulation on a twice-daily basis. Normally, the oral dose for coconut oil is 1 teaspoon per 10 pounds of body weight or 1 tablespoon per 30 pounds of body weight. Again, depending on the condition of your pet, any existing medical concerns, body fat percentage, age, and activity levels, your vet may actually reduce the frequency to once every other day. In some instances where an increase in coconut oil consumption may benefit your pet, then your vet may actually recommend giving your pet a thrice daily dose of the formulation.
Coconut oil may be safe in the general sense. However, owing to canine differences, one dog may require a more frequent administration of coconut oil while others will benefit more from a reduced frequency. In general, the main point is to always consult your vet.
Q: Can I add coconut oil to wet and dry dog food?
A: The quick answer to this is ‘yes’ you can add coconut oil to your pet’s food whether it is dry or wet. One of the best things about coconut oil is that it possesses anthelminthic properties. While the exact mechanism is not clearly understood, what is generally observed is that adding coconut oil to your dog’s food regardless of whether it is wet or dry can help facilitate the removal of intestinal worms from your dog’s gut. Now that is one of the clear benefits of giving coconut oil to your pet.
However, it is very important that you make the necessary adjustments in your pet’s calorie intake especially the fat content of its dog food. Again, just because coconut oil contains medium-chain triglycerides doesn’t mean you can ease up on watching its diet. Remember that MCT is just a component of coconut oil and there are other oils as well. In most cases, coconut oil for dogs can contain as much as 65% of medium-chain triglycerides with the remaining 35% being saturated fats.
Q: Can I use coconut oil for dog ear infections?
A: An infection, regardless of its location in the dog’s body, is caused by certain microorganisms that destroy body tissues. The destruction of the tissues releases a variety of substances that bring about the classic manifestations of inflammation such as redness, swelling, and pain. As such, the only way you can really address the problem is by giving your dog an antimicrobial agent that is highly specific for the organism that is causing the infection.
That said, while coconut does exhibit antimicrobial properties, these do not act with specificity to the possible causes of ear infections in dogs. For instance, the yeast Malassezia furfur doesn’t really respond well to coconut oil, even if you do decide to put copious amounts of it in your dog’s ear.
However, this doesn’t mean that coconut oil cannot be used as an adjunct to the management of the symptoms of dog ear infections such as drying and crusting of the skin and intense itching. Studies show that coconut oil can be an effective method for managing intense itching as well as reduce signs of skin irritation. As such, coconut oil can still be used to relieve some of the symptoms of infections in dogs.
But, if you think that coconut oil can replace conventional, empirical antibiotic treatments, then that is where you are wrong. It may kill ear mites, though as it tends to suffocate or drown out these parasites in your dog’s ears.
Q: Can dogs be allergic to coconut oil?
A: Generally speaking, pure coconut oil is safe. The reason is quite simple – it doesn’t contain proteins that can be recognized by the dog’s immune system as allergenic. Some say lauric acid may contribute to a variety of manifestations that are taken as allergic symptoms. However, lauric acid is a medium-chain fatty acid and not an amino acid as some would claim.
So when does coconut oil become allergenic? Allergic reactions occur because of the presence of a protein molecule upon which immune system cells have been sensitized to. Since pure coconut oil doesn’t contain any recognizable form of protein, caution should be observed when buying coconut oil supplements as there is a possibility that these products are infused with other chemicals that may contain protein in the formulation. Regardless of how negligible the amount of such a substance is, one can never really predict how the dog’s immune system will react.
As such, if you’re concerned about your dog being allergic to coconut oil, just get the pure, unadulterated product and your pet should be fine.
However, aside from the concern about allergies, you might also be concerned about upset stomachs and diarrhea. These are usually a very common occurrence in diets that are very rich in fats. That is why you shouldn’t really give your pet more than necessary to help avert any potential problems. We did mention the usual range of dosing for dogs. You can always start with a much lower dose to check how your pet reacts to it.
Our Top Pick
There were a lot of products vying for the top position of the best coconut oil for dogs. However, after thorough deliberation with our editorial team, friends who are avid pet owners, and our resident animal experts, we’d have to listen to what majority of pet parents have to say. Since we’re essentially talking about a single-ingredient product, everything boils down to the positive experiences of pet parents. As such, our choice for the best coconut oil for dogs is the Viva Naturals Organic Extra-Virgin Coconut Oil. We know that it is essentially intended for human use, but it sure provides exceptional benefits to man’s best friend, too. It is cold-pressed, naturally preserving all the health benefits of organic, pure, unrefined, and unprocessed coconut oil. The best thing about it is that you can use it on yourself, too.