Coconut oil is widely known to be a super-food for humans, but the benefits to our canine companions might come as a surprise to most dog owners. Coconut oil will give your dog more energy, lower the risk of common diseases and infections, and improve the shine on his coat even into old age. Sounds good, right?
The secret to these benefits lies in the high saturated fat content (90%) found in coconut oil.
1. More Energy, Less Blubber!
As we have all heard by now, there are “good” and “bad” fats. Unsaturated fats, or the kind of fat found in margarine and fried foods, will increase cholesterol, clog arteries and cause obesity. These are called long chain triglycerides (LCTs) and the lymphatic system absorbs them from the digestive tract and packs them around the body in the form of fat cells.
Good fats, saturated fats, such as the kind found in avocados and coconut oil, contain medium chain triglycerides (MCT). Coconut oil contains mainly the type of MCT called lauric acid, which bypasses the lymph system and goes straight to the liver to get converted quickly and easily into energy, and does not get stored as fat.
2. Boost to The Immune System
Lauric acid is also a known antiviral, anti-fungal and antibacterial, and it specifically targets the candida, or yeast-building, bacteria.
Although dogs have a stronger immune system than humans, they are still susceptible to viruses, fungi, and bacterial infections. For example, dogs (usually puppies under the age of 1 year) can suffer from something called Canine Distemper, which is actually a form of measles and presents as a mild fever, loss of appetite, and discharge from the eyes. The lauric acid found in coconut oil can go a long way to fighting off this virus.
3. Glossy Coat and Healthy Skin
Your dog’s coat, just like your own hair, is a reflection of his inner health. His skin is his largest organ, so if there are scabs, rashes of flaking, a simple dose of coconut oil, which is rich with antioxidants, will flush out the free radicals causing buildups of toxins. These buildups can cause skin irritations as well as hair patching or bald spots.
As a first step to reducing brittle dry hair and skin issues, you should reduce the amount of toxins (such as giving your dog table scraps) that your dog consumes. Following that, a small dose of coconut oil can be an excellent way to maintain your dog’s health long-term.
Don’t overdo it!
As with human supplements, if a small amount of a vitamin, acid or mineral is a good thing, a larger amount is not necessarily better! So as a rule of thumb, you should consider the amount of coconut oil that is beneficial is:
1 teaspoon per 100 lbs
So you may need to do some math. If your dog is only 20 lbs, just a quarter teaspoon mixed into his food once a day will be enough. If your dog is bigger, add maybe a half teaspoon.
Make sure you are using organic, un-refined (ie. virgin) coconut oil for maximum benefits.
Did You Know?
While you might find it strange to give coconut oil to animals, the inverse is actually true: everything we know about the physiological effect of coconut oil is from tests on animal subjects. The effect of coconut oil on rabbits, monkeys and dogs is actually the only dependable science we have about the benefits of coconut oil, and the effects on humans is mostly inferred based on these animal studies.
After reading about the benefits of coconut oil, would you consider incorporating some into your dog’s diet (if you don’t already)? Let me know!