5 Ways Coconut Oil Can Keep Your Dog Healthy
There may be something right in your kitchen that can bring some healthy perks to your dog: coconut oil. Extracted from the meat of a coconut, this oil has been linked to numerous health benefits in humans — it improves overall brain function, has shown promise in protecting against and reversing Alzheimer’s, can help you lose fat and much more. (You can learn all about coconut’s many health benefits in our article 7 Amazing Health Benefits of Coconut Oil.)
And now, the healthful oil even shows promise in boosting your pup’s health. And making it even better: many dogs consider it a delicacy, right up there with peanut butter, so they’ll happily gobble it up.
Like many Americans, as much as you may have come to accept the inevitability of getting older, you probably don’t like noticing signs of aging such as wrinkles, vision loss, aching joints, fatigue and more.
But what most people — doctors included — don’t realize is these seemingly innocuous symptoms stem from a simple hidden cause that can easily be corrected.
Here are 6 ways your dog can gain some benefits of coconut oil.
1. Soothe the Skin
Don’t let their fur fool you; a dog’s skin can be affected by external factors, such as arid climates, dry heat, cool or snowy weather, chafing winds or even excess swimming. Adding a little coconut oil to your dog’s skin can help add moisture, and fend off dryness and flaking.
Simply rub a small amount in your hands and gently run your fingers through your pup’s coat, massaging onto the skin.
One note: while coconut oil may offer relief, it won’t correct a skin irritation if the culprit is an allergy or something that requires veterinary attention.
2. Spiff Up the Coat
Need to get your dog ready for a family photo? Applied topically, coconut oil can also make his coat look sleek and shiny. A little goes a long way — if your dog walks away smelling like a tropical drink, you’ve probably used too much.
To liven up the coat, place a pea-size amount in your palm and rub it between your hands to melt it. Then lay on some affection: run your fingers through your pup’s fur and caress his skin to massage in the oil. Add additional pea-size increments, as needed.
3. Treat Sore Spots
You can also apply coconut oil topically as an ‘on-the-spot’ treatment directly to itchy or flaky areas. Its anti-bacterial and anti-fungal qualities make it safe and beneficial even on such as raw, itchy areas, such as hot spots, eczema and contact dermatitis. And because it’s safe orally, there’s no worries if your pup licks it off. Although an e-collar is best to keep your dog away from healing areas.
4. Protect the Paws
Coconut oil serves double-duty on a dog’s paws; it can both protect and soothe.
A liberal coat applied to his paws and between his toes before walking in wintery weather can help prevent skin irritation, especially in areas treated with road salt. And after a busy day of playing on a rough surface — like a rocky beach — a nice paw massage of coconut oil can help sooth the paws and heal tiny cuts.
5. Help Medicine Go Down
Thick and gloppy when at room temperature, coconut oil is the perfect consistency for concealing a pill. It’s also a tasty treat most dogs will gulp down. If your dog resists taking his meds, try tucking a pill into a blob of coconut oil, or ‘frosting’ a treat with the oil and adhering the pill to it.
Observe His Reaction
Whether applied topically or taken orally, when starting your dog on coconut oil, be sure to watch his reaction. Common signs of an allergic reaction include fur loss, increased itching, areas of swelling, excess panting, coughing or sneezing. Like any new food, loose stools or diarrhea may occur initially, but if it persists after several days, discontinue or reduce the dosage.
How to Buy
You can purchase coconut oil at most grocery stores; no need to search for a dog-specific formula. Choose virgin coconut oil or raw rather than refined, as the latter may include chemicals from the refining process. Purchase the best quality you can easily afford, opting for organic whenever possible. Here are some great options to consider:
Debbie Swanson is a freelance writer, published in numerous national and local outlets. An avid vegetarian, animal lover and reader, she loves learning about healthy eating and finding natural cures for everyday ailments.