Beauty & Brains: Benefits of Coconut Oil for Dogs
If you’re into food or have an Instagram account, you probably know that healthy fats are in. Olive oil, avocados, and nuts are all main staples of any balanced diet and boast skin and hair benefits to boot. If you’re loving healthy fats but need a break from your avocado toast, we have two words for you: coconut oil. The best news? It’s great for your pup, too.
First, the breakdown. Coconut oil is 90% saturated fat and is made of various kinds of fatty acids that serve a wide range of purposes. Some are antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory; others are anti-fungal. And because fats restore our cells, they also make skin and hair healthier. Win-win for humans and dogs, but pups get an even deeper set of extra benefits.
Coconut oil is a powerful skin protectant for pups, as it can reduce allergic reactions, soothe bites from flea outbreaks or other bugs, and also help clear up dry skin conditions like eczema, dermatitis, and itchy coats. Applied topically, it makes the skin and coat glow thanks to all those good fats that nourish cells—much like a dog friendly leave-in conditioner.
Additionally, coconut oil aids with digestion and metabolic functions which results in higher energy levels at playtime. MCTs (Medium Chain Triglycerides) help the body maximize the use of essential fatty acids and improve brain function, so this wellness agent can literally help an old dog learn new tricks—or at least jog his memory on tricks he used to know. Studies show that after two weeks on a diet supplemented with MCTs, dogs showed improvement with cognitive abilities and learning-related tasks. Helicopter parents, take note: now your pup can actually be the smartest one at the dog park.
To give your dog a sample to taste, start slow and small. To apply topically, pour a small amount into hands and rub gently over skin and coat. A little bit goes a long way, so use sparingly — nobody likes a greasy dog. If you’re adding coconut oil to your pup’s bowl, the ideal amount depends on your pooch’s size: ¼ teaspoon daily works for small dogs, while anywhere from 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon daily is best for medium or bigger dogs.
Remember to watch the portion sizes if you’re trying to maintain or lower your dog’s weight and always exercise moderation! Even healthy fats can cause weight gain in both humans and dogs over time (we’re looking at you, guacamole).