How Coconut Oil Can Help Your Dog

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How your Dog Can Benefit from Coconut Oil

You probably already know that I am a huge supportive of natural products for the health of our Llewellin Setters and our family. I believe in feeding the best food you can afford (but cost does not make it a good or bad food, the right ingredients do), providing a non-toxic (pesticide, fungicide, insecticide, and synthetic free) environment, and the prevention and treatment of illness or disease by the most natural way possible. We have used these methods for over 10 years in our personal life and with our dogs.

We use coconut oil for all our cooking needs and it has replaced every lotion, moisturizer, sunscreen, first-aid ointment, make-up remover, hair conditioner, etc. in our home. Today I would like to share with you the health benefits of using coconut oil for your dogs. I feel like I’ve done a horrible injustice to every dog and puppy owner by not sharing this incredible resource sooner.

So, how exactly can coconut oil help your dog or puppy?

Well, coconut oil is antibacterial, antimicrobial, and anti-fungal, and the list of benefits to dogs is very long.

Applied topically, coconut oil helps conditions such as:

  • Itchy skin
  • Eczema
  • Contact dermatitis
  • Helps disinfect cuts and promotes the healing of wounds, hot spots, bites & stings, dry skin
  • Treats and prevents fungal, yeast, and candida infections
  • Flea bite reactions and not only reactions, but it also repels fleas and ticks—rub some oil on your hands, then wipe over the dog’s neck, back, under the arm pits and down the legs.
  • Ear infections, ear mites, and wax. Yes, simply apply a few drops of coconut oil to the ear canal and gently massage the ear. The oil suffocates mites. The antibacterial and antifungal properties will heal an infection (which is usually caused by too much yeast in the ears) and will loosen wax.
  • Cracked and dry foot pads? Rub Coconut Oil on them. If they lick it off it won’t hurt the dog and I’ve heard that saliva mixed with the coconut oil actually helps speed the healing process. (Excellent for aiding in protecting the pads during hunting season and on snow. Apply before and after to condition and protect!)
  • Add to bath water for conditioning, skin soothing, and odor reduction (fantastic for hunting dogs because it coats the hair and makes grooming and brushing out stickers and briers so much easier as well as helps to repel mud, dirt, gnats, mosquitos, fleas and ticks. Seriously.

Given internally—on their food or even off the spoon—and regularly, coconut oil:

  • Boosts the immune system
  • Aids in arthritis and ligament problems as an anti-inflammatory
  • Improves digestion and the absorption of nutrients, which also aids in the healing of digestive (and autoimmune) disorders such as Colitis and IBS
  • Reduces or completely eliminates doggy bad breath
  • Regulates and balances insulin, promoting healthy thyroid function
  • Helps prevent and control canine diabetes
  • Helps reduce weight in overweight dogs and increase energy
  • As an anti-inflammatory it helps protect against cancer
  • Studies show MCTs improve cognition for aging dogs (123)
  • Prevent and cure parasitic infections such as giardia, ringworm, tapeworm and other parasites (4)

The Science

Coconut Oil is a medium-chain fatty acid (MCFA), containing 90% saturated fats. The majority of the saturated fats in coconut oil are Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs) consisting mainly of lauric acid (more than 40% and found in abundance in breast milk), caprylic acid, capric acid, myristic acid and palmitic. MCTs immediately break down by enzymes in saliva and stomach acid. The body can easily take in MCTs, so consuming it is an excellent way to the nutrients without putting strain on the digestive and pancreatic system. MCTs from coconut oil are used as the main source of fatty acids in infant formula and formulas used to feed very ill and those suffering from severe digestive disorders.

MCFAs, broken down are used for energy production, gently elevating metabolism, balancing the thyroid, increasing vitality and energy, while protecting from illness and speeding healing.

Lauric acid has antiviral, antifungal, and antibacterial properties and is converted into monoglyceride monolaurin by the body which aids in protecting against viral, bacterial and protozoal infections. Monolaurin is the disease destroyer in coconut oil and is unique in that it does not kill the beneficial bacteria needed to support and maintain digestive health. Lauric acid can only be found in coconut oil, palm kernel oil, and laurel oil, and goat, cow, and human breast milk.

Caprylic and capric acid are most known for their anti fungal properties. Caprylic acid is a short chain fatty acid that stops the growth of parasites and bacteria. Coconut oil also contains about 2% of linoleic acid (polyunsaturated fatty acids) and about 6% of oleic acid (monounsaturated fatty acids).

The anti-microbial properties of coconut oil prevent and speed the healing of wounds, scrapes, cracked pads, oral infections, yeast infections, odor-producing bacteria, yeast infections and gum disease. Protozoa, like giardia and other microbes, harmful bacteria, fungi etc., are destroyed by the Lauric acid.

The anti-inflammatory properties can aid in older, overweight dogs or those with arthritis, bone and joint problems, and allergies and is said to protect against cancer when given regularly orally. Poor diet is one of the major contributors to chronic inflammation so incorporating anti-inflammatory foods into your dog’s diet is essential and coconut oil can do this.

Dogs benefit from the antioxidant properties of coconut oil, too because they are exposed to the same, if not more, of the environmental toxins humans are, meaning oxidative cell damage.

How Coconut Oil Has Helped Our Llewellin Setters

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So, I’ve made coconut oil sound like a miracle cure for most dog ailments. Is it? Well, I can only share my experience with using it for the past 4 years. I learned of all the amazing ways coconut oil helped me and started using it on the dogs occasionally. I tried it on tick bites. I noticed that mosquitoes (a big problem here in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in the spring) didn’t bother me if I had coconut oil on and I rarely would get a tick on me (although I also eat a lot of raw garlic which I believe helps tremendously to ward off ticks). So, I started applying it to some on the dogs. It helped tremendously. I started adding a little coconut oil to the food of my momma dogs that had started weaning litters and noticed a marked improvement in their coats. Usually, no matter what I did, all momma’s blow their coats right around the time their pups start to leave.

We never get “hot spots,” foot or nail problems or fungus, etc., with our dogs which I believe is due to a healthy diet and toxin-free living conditions, but I have heard coconut oil is, indeed, a miracle worker for those things. My experience in using it topically has been mostly with the ears. During humid conditions, the dogs—and mostly puppies—get smelly ears. This is a sign of yeast (which is naturally occurring and every dog has some yeast in their ears) and wax build up. I simply apply coconut oil to the ear canals and gently massage. I then, wipe out any loose wax and debris. If I haven’t caught it fast enough, I may need to do this for a few days, but usually once or twice nips this completely. I have never had to use anything else to clear up a dog’s ears. Seriously. I have never had to use a product from the veterinarian to clear up our dog’s ears.

I do not personally have experience with mites, but I shared this information with a family member that had recently adopted a kitten loaded with ear mites. They used the coconut oil every day for a week or so and the mites were completely eradicated. The oil suffocates the mites. We also do not seem to ever get fleas, but again, I shared the coconut oil information with a friend with cats that were infested with fleas. They started applying light coconut oil to the cats’ coats, bathed the cats with coconut oil soaps and added oil to the bath water. They visibly watched fleas jump off the cats and die. Over a few weeks with this and constant vacuuming their home to get the other stages of the flea cycle, they rid their home and cats of fleas. They started adding it to their cat’s food and they tell me they have not had a flea problem ever again.

Bonuses of Using Coconut Oil for Hunting Dogs

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We used to use a synthetic spray during hunting season to aid in the prevention and removal of briers, stickers, etc., from the dog’s coats. I now simply use coconut oil. I put some on my hands and run it over the dog applying more to their ears and feathers. It works just as good as the spray, if not better, and also seems to help keep gnats, ticks, no-seeums away from the dog’s faces and isn’t a harmful, synthetic spray!

If you have a bird dog, you know all too well of the problems with bleeding tails, cut ears, cuts, scrapes, and irritated pads. I use coconut oil topically for all of them. It aids and speeds the healing and the bonus over using something like Neosporin is that you don’t have to worry about the dog licking it.

I don’t give all of our dogs coconut oil every single day, but I have started giving it to our older dogs at least several times a week and all the dogs during hunting season. I believe the VCO (Virgin Coconut Oil) aids in stamina, lubrication of the joints, increased brain function, weight management, and more. I’ve seen increased appetite during hunting season. Have you ever noticed your bird dog doesn’t want to eat or is very picky about eating during a hunting trip? Try adding coconut oil. It also seems to even out their energy-levels and our dogs are less fatigued after several days of hard hunting.

Summary and Recommendations

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While coconut oil is not something dogs could get in the wild, I feel adding it to our dog’s diet can benefit in so many ways that I definitely will continue to use it. Dogs today are not in the wild and their diet does not come from the wild anymore. Most dog’s diets come from bags of processed kibble full of fillers and with even the best kibble, much of the nutritional benefits cannot be absorbed. Coconut oil can help with the absorption of nutrients. Most dogs today live in an environment full of toxins from pollution, household cleaners, pesticides, insecticides, fungicides, fire-retardant and stain-resistant coatings on fabrics, carpeting, furniture, etc. Coconut oil’s antioxidant properties help fight against all those toxins and hopefully slow down the aging process.

I think there are way too many health benefits for our dogs to not use it and I feel it is a much better alternative to pharmaceuticals for many things. And there are very few reasons against it. I’ve heard in a few cases a dog can develop and tree nut allergy so could become allergic to coconut oil. I would suspect such a dog is highly overloaded with toxins and chemicals and would need a big environmental change and a very slow detox. I say this because I’ve lived it personally. None the less, it can happen and is something you should be aware of and to look out for.

How Much Coconut Oil Should You Give Your Dog?

 

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If you are interested in adding coconut oil to your dog’s diet, how do you start and how much do you give? The recommended dosage is pretty easy; just give a teaspoon of coconut oil per 10 pounds of dog, or you can give a tablespoon per 30 pounds. But, start with about 1/4 of the recommended dosage and build up to the recommended level over 3-4 weeks. Starting with too much can cause a loose, greasy stool and can cause a bit of nausea and upset stomach. Once they are used to it, this does not happen and it’s never happened with any of our dogs. Our dogs absolutely love it and I have a few that drink my coffee any chance they get because I add it to my coffee. I have some dogs that won’t eat their kibble now unless I have added coconut oil. If I leave a jar or bucket of coconut oil within reach without a lid, they love to have at it.

It is very easy to give your dog Coconut oil. It remains solid unless it is heated or the air temperature above 76°F. Sometimes I melt it, but most times I just spoon a glob on their food.

There are many coconut oils out there so which one do you get and where?

I recommend virgin, unrefined coconut oil and there are many kinds out there. I have bought from Tropical Traditions for years. Read all about how Coconut Oil is made and the differences on their site. I trust their products and I don’t bother even looking at the grocery store offerings. Because I use it personally for just about everything and for cooking, and now for all of our dogs, I buy it in 5 gallon buckets. This is the most affordable way if you are using as much as I do and for as many dogs as I do. You could also buy the 5 gallons and share it with family and friends. A one-gallon bucket, one-pint jar or one-quart jar is also available.

For those that do not like the smell or taste of coconut. I can’t imagine it, but my husband is one of these people, which is why we get the Organic Expeller-pressed (the links are above), which has no smell or taste. I don’t feel it has the highest benefits, but for those that are not using it because they can’t stand the taste or smell of coconuts, it is the best option. For those that don’t at all mind the smell and taste (like me), I recommend Tropical Tradition’s Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil, which I order for myself. Our dogs love either one and will eat it rather it tastes or smells like coconut.

By the way, everyone that gets a puppy from us asks what I bath the puppies with because they smell so good and it lasted so long. It just so happens I get Tropical Traditions Shampoo Bar, from the same company as the coconut oil. I use it on my self and bath the dogs and puppies with it. Ingredients are: Saponified organic virgin coconut oil and natural patchouli. Note: If you use the links above and become a new customer of Tropical Traditions, I earn a gift certificate.

I hope you decide to give coconut oil a try for the health of your dogs. Next, I’ll update you on how important Fish Oil can be for your dog, but only a very good fish oil.

Note: I am not a veterinarian, but I bet I’ve raised more Llewellin Setters than one. I only share with you what I do, what I use, and how it has helped our dogs for over 15 years exclusively with Llewellin Setters. We’ve had dogs our entire lives and were breeders of Great Danes before the Llewellin Setter came into our lives. 

Questions? Ask them here. Comments are welcome below. What experiences have you had with coconut oil helping your dog?

Thanks and don’t forget to hug your Llewellin Setter tonight.

-M.

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