There’s a rumor going around that coconut oil isn’t good for dogs… and we’re here to dispel it. We’ve pulled together a few facts about this superfood and how it can benefit the health of your canine companion.
We live in the age of new media, which means that much of what we hear and read isn’t entirely true. Catchy headlines and marketing ploys lure us in and entice us to believe a whole host of inaccurate information disguised as fact. Take coconut oil, for instance. A quick internet search will bring up thousands of articles declaring that it’s good for dogs, and a smattering claiming that it’s not. So what’s a pet parent to believe?
If you feed your pup coconut oil, don’t be alarmed. We’ve compiled a list of scientific evidence and expert opinions stating that this popular oil is, in fact, good for canines. Let’s take a closer look.
1. Aside from human breast milk, coconut oil is nature’s most abundant source of lauric acid.
Author of The Natural Dog, Dr. Deva Khalsa is highly respected in the world of pet nutrition. She’s been a holistic veterinarian for the past 30 years, and during that time has spoken out about the benefits that coconut oil can offer dogs.
“Coconuts are classified as a “functional food”, and their oil provides many benefits beyond its super-healthy nutritional content,” she wrote in her 2018 article, “Feeding your dog healthy oils”. “The secret to its healing power is its medium-chain fatty acids, which contain special health-giving properties. The fats in coconut oil are similar to those in mother’s milk, and they have similar healing attributes. Aside from human breast milk, coconut oil is nature’s most abundant source of lauric acid, which has been used to kill viruses, bacteria and yeast as well as prevent tooth decay. It also supports thyroid function and enhances metabolism.”
2. It delivers an accessible supply of non-carbohydrate energy.
According to veterinarian Dr. W. Jean Dodds and canine nutritionist Diana Laverdure, co-authors of Canine Nutrigenomics, dogs and cats can particularly benefit from coconut oil. The authors reference several studies, in which the findings suggested that MCTs – which, as we’ve seen, are abundant in coconut oil – break down more quickly in the bloodstream than regular fats, thereby delivering an accessible supply of non-carbohydrate energy. The research also indicates that MCTs help the body and brain utilize Omega 3 fatty acids more efficiently, and that MCTs can easily traverse the blood-brain barrier.
One specific pet-based study (Pan et al, 2010) supplemented the diets of 24 beagles with 5.5% MCT. The dogs, ranging in age from seven to 11, demonstrated measurable improvements in learning-related tasks after just two weeks, and even greater improvement after one month. It therefore appears that MCTs may help support an aging animal’s brain by supplying an alternative source of usable energy.
3. It has the potential to help support cell membranes, enhance skin and coat condition, aid in hormone balance, and support healthy thyroid function.
Veterinarian Dr. Elizabeth Cutright, a founding consultant at Healthier Pets Naturally, has even more good things to say about coconut oil. “We know that coconut oil is a healthy fat that exhibits anti-inflammatory properties,” she explains. “It has the potential to help support cell membranes, enhance skin and coat condition, aid in hormone balance, and support healthy thyroid function. Used as one component of a whole diet health protocol, it can also help support digestion and fat-soluble nutrient absorption.”
Dr. Cutright also points to literature that highlights coconut oil’s antimicrobial effects, particularly against yeast.
4. It’s anti-inflammatory.
One of the biggest misconceptions about coconut oil is that because it’s a saturated fat, it can be pro-inflammatory. This is not, the case, however, and numerous studies show that this oil is in fact anti-inflammatory. “This is because as medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) are broken down in the gastrointestinal tract, fatty acids are released which can then kill potentially troublesome bacteria,” says Charisa Antigua, co-founder of CocoTherapy. “This is all part of the process of which medium chain fatty acids stimulate the immune system to protect itself.”
As the old saying goes… “you shouldn’t believe everything you read”! What you should believe are expert-backed facts that have been obtained through research – like the points listed above. If you have questions about coconut oil and pets, email Charisa at email@example.com.
Animal Wellness is North America's top natural health and lifestyle magazine for dogs and cats, with a readership of over one million every year. AW features articles by some of the most renowned experts in the pet industry, with topics ranging from diet and health related issues, to articles on training, fitness and emotional well being.