Start writing
Share this Story

Is Feeding Your Dog Coconut Oil a Health Fad or Actually Healthy?

Anna is a lifestyle writer who spends way too much time with her two dogs. When she is not writing, she is probably gardening, reading, tripping over dog toys, or trying to acquire more farm animals than she really needs.

Everything you need to know about coconut oil and dogs

Dietary fads are based on many things, from science and anecdotal evidence to whatever Gwyneth Paltrow feels like. As a pet owner, I am always skeptical about applying these trends to my pets, but a few months ago, I found myself up a creek without a paddle — or more specifically, without access to doggy toothpaste. I was on a Caribbean island and the vet clinic, which, like the rest of the island, relies on shipments from elsewhere that are often delayed, ran out of toothpaste.

I am pretty religious about brushing my dogs’ teeth, and they love it, too, so the toothpaste shortage was kind of a big deal. I did what any self-respecting millennial would do: I Googled an alternative.

More: Our favorite superfood spice should be added to your dog's diet

One of the things that came up was coconut oil. I remember finding several articles citing its antibacterial and antimicrobial benefits, and people have been using it as an oral rinse for a long, long time. I figured I would give it a try as an interim strategy for keeping plaque at bay.

This is where I wish I could tell you that it worked miracles, but in reality, I have no idea if it was effective or not. It made me feel better, which was ultimately the point. But it made me wonder if taking human health fads and applying them to our pets can be dangerous.

Does coconut oil for dogs work?

Here’s the thing. There really aren’t that many studies at all about whether or not coconut oil benefits dogs. Most of the evidence is anecdotal and a lot is based on in vitro studies, which have yet to be replicated in humans or dogs. What information is out there is mostly on humans, and that is also inconclusive.

More: Do dogs dream? And if so, what about?

Things that help humans can sometimes help animals, but not always. We are, after all, different species. Things that help humans can also hurt animals, which is where pet owners who want to give coconut oil a try should be wary.

Risks of coconut oil for dogs

Coconut oil is high in fats, both good and bad. In small quantities, coconut oil won’t hurt you or your dog unless you are allergic, but in large quantities the high fat content can lead to obesity, pancreatitis and symptoms of GI upset like diarrhea. This is especially concerning for small dogs, as it is easy to forget to adjust portions for their size. Talk to your veterinarian to see what is an appropriate amount of coconut oil to feed your dog.

Benefits of coconut oil for dogs

All of that being said, there are some potential benefits of giving coconut oil to dogs as long as you feed appropriate amounts and are not looking for a miracle cure.

More: What does the world look like to dogs? Now we know

What’s the verdict?

I’m no doctor, but I do believe in evidence-based science. Coconut oil could be beneficial for your dog’s health, but I will wait to see what future studies reveal about long-term effects before I jump fully on the bandwagon. In the meantime, I am now fully stocked on doggy toothpaste and content to use coconut oil in my own cooking.

Tagged in
Comments
Hot
New in Pets & Animals
Close

And you'll see personalized content just for you whenever you click the My Feed .

SheKnows is making some changes!

b h e a r d !

Welcome to the new SheKnows Community,

where you can share your stories, ideas

and CONNECT with millions of women.

Get Started