We’ve heard about the benefits of coconut oil for humans, but what about the benefits for a dog’s health? It turns out that nutrient-dense coconut oil can be a great addition to your dog’s diet in safe, small amounts, whether added to your dog’s food, as a supplement, or applied to the skin. Rich in fatty acids and healthy saturated fats, coconut oil may have the following benefits for dogs:
- Makes a dog’s coat extra shiny
- Can relieve allergies and itchy skin
- Kicks bad breath
- Improves digestion
- Improves cognitive function
- Boosts the immune system
- Increases energy levels
- Helps eliminate fleas and ticks
- Possesses antifungal properties
- Treats arthritis and ligament issues
- Soothes dry skin, infections, hot spots, dry paw pads, and cracked noses when applied topically (and it’s ok if they lick it off!)
How Much Coconut Oil Should I Give My Dog?
Coconut oil is generally safe for dogs, but should be introduced gradually into their diet. Too much too fast can upset their digestive system, and may cause discomfort, lethargy, or diarrhea. Therefore, it’s best to start with small amounts, gradually working up to the optimal amount. A little bit goes a long way. Note that your dog’s weight will affect the proper dosage. Note that you should always check for signs of an allergic reaction when introducing a new food to your dog’s diet.
Experts suggest that coconut oil can be given to dogs once or twice a day. According to PetMD, start with ¼ teaspoon daily for small dogs and go up to 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon daily for bigger dogs. Keep in mind that because of its high fat content, you shouldn’t give coconut oil more than once a day to an obese or overweight dog. In general, any dog being fed coconut oil should be monitored for weight gain.
Why is Coconut Oil Good for Dogs?
Coconut oil is just what it sounds like: it’s an edible oil extracted from mature coconuts. Being high in saturated fat and medium-chain triglycerides accounts for its probable health benefits. In particular, medium chain triglycerides are “good” fats that provide many benefits to the immune system, digestive system, skin, and even cognitive functions.
These kinds of dietary fats are easier to digest. The body uses them efficiently so that they become an immediate source of fuel and energy. Additionally, lauric acid, which forms part of the good fat in coconut oil, has known immune-boosting benefits.
What about Coconut Meat, Milk, or Coconut Water for Dogs?
Like coconut oil, sometimes coconut fruit, milk, and coconut water can cause digestive upset in dogs, especially if introduced quickly and in large quantities. It’s best to check with your vet before feeding any of these to your dog. In particular, coconut water contains high levels of potassium, and in rare cases dogs can develop a condition called hyperkalemia caused by too much potassium.
Homemade Dog Treats with Coconut Oil
Need some ideas on how to incorporate coconut oil into dogs’ diet? Here are some simple and nutritious recipes for a variety of homemade treats.
No Bake Coconut Dog Treats
If you’re looking for something easy to start with, try this quick, no bake recipe from Pretty Fluffy. First, throw coconut oil, peanut butter, and rolled oats in a food processor. Next, scoop out bite sized pieces and roll them into balls. Finally, coat each ball with shredded coconut and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Healthy, homemade dog treats don’t get much easier than that.
Frozen Coconut Oil & Blueberry Dog Treats
Super healthy and refreshing, these bitty bites from Hello Nature make the perfect canine snack. Just pour berries and coconut oil into your favorite silicone mold, freeze, and presto: you have a dog treat bursting with vitamins and antioxidants.
Ginger Apple Dog Treats
Feeling a little fancy? Follow this recipe we found at Lola the Pitty and your pup will be eating out of your hand in no time. These treats are grain-free for sensitive dogs, and full of healthy ingredients like apples, ginger, Greek yogurt, and of course, coconut oil.
Sweet Potato Fries (with Coconut Oil)
For something that’ll appeal to pups and their human friends, we visited Beagles & Bargains and found a delicious recipe containing coconut oil, sweet potatoes, and cinnamon. Simply cut up a sweet potato, coat it in oil and spice, bake, and serve (after cooling, of course). Cinnamon is fine for dogs in small amounts, but make sure any extra spices you add are dog-safe.
Heart-Shaped Coconut Dog Treats
Show your love and treat your four-legged friend to something special this Valentine’s Day. This simple recipe from Golden Barrel is fast, easy, and most of all, delicious! Your dog is sure to thank you with kisses, and don’t worry, the coconut oil will help that dog breath.
Frozen Banana & Coconut Delight
Simple ingredients make this recipe from Moments with Mandi a cinch to make, and you probably already have them all on hand. Banana boosts the nutritional content, while tasty peanut butter and coconut oil keep your pup begging for more.
Coconut & Chicken Dog Treats
A Cozy Kitchen has this sweet recipe for treats packed with nutritious ingredients like chicken broth, honey, oats, and most importantly, coconut oil. You can use different cookie cutter shapes to customize these treats for any occasion. Bon appétit!
Store-Bought Coconut Dog Treats
No time to bake? We’ve got you covered. Here are some delicious store-bought treat options with all the benefits of real virgin coconut oil. Dog owners can also look for pet food with added coconut.
Dr. Harvey’s Coconut Smiles
Just one ingredient here— dehydrated coconut. Perfect for dogs on limited ingredient diets who want interesting new treats.
Fruitables Greek Yogurt and Coconut Crunchy Dog Treats
These low calorie crunchy treats are a great alternative to the same old, same old flavors your dog may no longer respond to.
Wellness TruFood CocoChia Bakes
Limited ingredient, grain-free crunchy treats with the health benefits of coconut oil and chia seeds
Zuke’s Skinny Bakes 20 calorie Dog Biscuits
These crunchy cookies easily break in two for even lower calorie treating. Available in 5 flavors.