We all know about the amazing health benefits that coconut oil provides, but one thing that’s not typically talked about is how it can support the health of our pets. While most studies observing the benefits of coconut oil have been done on humans, it turns out that there are some very similar health benefits when it comes to our pets. In particular, our cats and dogs!
One key factor that makes coconut oil so incredible for pets, is that it’s a natural and non-toxic alternative to conventional health products. As health conscious humans, we’re intentional with the products we purchase and try to be aware of the ingredients we consume and apply topically. So in the same way that we want to reduce the amount of chemicals we’re exposed to from our environment each day - it only makes sense that we want to do the same for our pets!
As a versatile and incredibly nutrient dense food, coconut oil makes a great alternative to many conventional products, including skin and body care, food and oral health products. It’s 100% natural and contains just one ingredient, so we know exactly what our pets are being exposed to. From grooming to aiding digestive health, coconut oil has been shown to be a safe and effective tool to support both cats and dogs for many reasons! Let's learn about the most important benefits of coconut oil for pets.
Coconut oil is an amazing alternative to conventional moisturizers and body oils, so it’s not surprising that it works in a similar way for pets. Many veterinarians and dog owners claim that coconut oil is an amazing treatment for treating dry skin and eczema when applied topically. It can be applied topically to dry or irritated skin, and works to soothe skin conditions like psoriasis to reduce inflammation and itching on the surface of the skin.
Just like coconut oil can be used to support a healthy skin barrier in humans, it’s also beneficial when trying to keep your pet’s coat in good condition. The strong antifungal and antibacterial properties of coconut oil also make it the perfect treatment to combat skin infections and repel fleas and ticks. And because it’s safe to eat, there’s no need to worry about your pets licking it off!
As a rich source of fatty acids like lauric acid, coconut oil naturally aids in reducing inflammation when ingested. This can support joints, or pets who are more susceptible to developing mild arthritis or swollen, painful joints. The incredible anti-inflammatory properties found in coconut oil may also support conditions like inflammatory bowel disease or gingivitis.
The medium-chain triglycerides found in coconut oil have been shown in countless studies to benefit our digestive health - and it may promote a healthy gut for our pets, too! Inflammation within the digestive tract can cause some serious discomfort, and the natural anti-inflammatory properties in coconut oil may be an effective way to soothe the digestive tract. The healing properties of coconut oil have also been shown to promote a healthy mucosal lining of the digestive tract, helping to prevent inflammation. By supporting the lining of the digestive tract, coconut oil will also support the absorption and assimilation of nutrients from your pets diet.
The antibacterial effects of coconut oil may also work to prevent parasitic infections, or bacterial overgrowth within the gut. As a saturated fat, coconut oil will also help your pet absorb important nutrients from their diet, like vitamins D, E, A and K.
Coconut oil for pets may help boost their immune system, in the same way as it does for us. The lauric acid found in coconut oil has powerful antibacterial and antiviral properties, giving it the potential to support a strong immune system. With the ability to increase the absorption of fat soluble vitamins, ingesting coconut oil may increase the exposure of important vitamins for a healthy immune system, like vitamin D and A.
Not only will coconut oil support healthy teeth, but it’s also a great way to prevent bad breath (both in humans, and pets!). Bad breath often means there’s some kind of bacterial overgrowth or imbalance within the digestive tract or the mouth. The powerful antimicrobial properties of coconut oil work to fight bacteria in the stomach and intestines, while also preventing any immediate infections in the mouth like gum inflammation, or decay caused by oral infection.
There are many ways to incorporate coconut oil into your pets diet - from mixing it with canned food to adding it to making homemade treats, or you may even want to try melting it in the microwave and pouring it over food.
When it comes to the brand and type of coconut oil, it’s important to choose a credible brand that produces a high quality oil (check out our most recent blog that covers the 3 best coconut oil brands in New Zealand to find the best coconut oil for you). It’s also been suggested that extra virgin coconut oil is the best type of coconut oil for pets, and most of the benefits seen in dogs have been observed using it.
Like any new addition to the diet, when trying coconut oil for your pets it’s important to start small and see how they respond. Coconut oil in particular is a rich food, and veterinarians recommend starting slow when introducing it into your pet’s diet. Starting with ¼ teaspoon and working your way up will be the best option when using it for ingestion.
It’s also recommended not to feed your pet coconut oil alone, especially when you’re first introducing it. Instead, use one of the methods above to mix it in with their food to support digestion. If you’re applying coconut oil topically, it pays to start slowly too. Start by rubbing a small amount of the oil on your hands and applying it over their coat to monitor how their skin reacts.
Naturopath & Medical Herbalist