coconut oil

How Much Coconut Oil To Give Your Dog + 5 Ways To Try It

Many people tout the benefits of coconut oil for their own health and well-being, claiming it does everything from reducing inflammation to improving cognition. But what about coconut oil for dogs? Is it a superfood and natural moisturizer for them too?

For many dogs, the answer is yes. According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), the fatty acids in coconut oil can be beneficial for dogs, whether you feed it to your pet or apply it topically. The healing powers of this tropical nut are expansive and may positively impact your pet’s skin, coat, digestive system, immune system, joints, and endocrine systems. But as with all new ingredients, you should introduce it gradually.

Below, we’ll go over vet-approved coconut oil serving sizes for dogs, potential risks of feeding or using coconut oil, and five different ways to try it in your dog’s routine. 

How Much Coconut Oil To Give Your Dog

Want to try this superfood on your dog? You’ll want to break out your measuring spoons and use our chart below. Too much coconut oil can lead to weight gain and even cholesterol problems for dogs, but too little will limit the health benefits of this popular supplement.

Coconut oil is rich in medium-chain fatty acids, medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), lauric acid, and omega-3s, but it’s still a fat. Specifically, it contains saturated fats, which can lead to problems with weight and cholesterol if you feed too much to your pet. In addition, some dogs are allergic to coconut and coconut oil, so it’s important to start small and check for any negative reactions. 

Start with:

  • 1/8 teaspoon per day for small dogs and puppies that are 15 pounds or less
  • 1/2 teaspoon per day for medium dogs between 25 and 50 pounds
  • 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons per day for large dogs that are 75 pounds or more

Watch carefully for signs of any problems, like itchy skin, stomach pains, diarrhea, or weight gain, and if you don’t see any, you can slowly increase the amount. Don’t increase by more than double from one week to the next. Remember, you’re basing your doses on the pounds of bodyweight your dog has, so each dog’s dose will be different. If you have any questions, check with your veterinarian.

If your dog is already eating a balanced diet according to your vet, then consider removing some food or treats as you add oil to their diet to ensure you aren’t overfeeding your dog. Moderation is key. 

One alternative to feeding pure coconut oil is to introduce it to your pet in the form of tasty, balanced dog treats, like these Coconut Goat’s Milk Dog Treats. Still, start small and work your way towards a higher dose.

Dangers of Coconut Oil To Be Aware Of

Adding coconut oil to your dog’s diet can offer benefits, but you do need to use caution. As we mentioned earlier, coconut oil is pure fat, and the oil actually has a high amount of saturated fat. Using too much of it can cause health issues for your pet. 

Before adding any supplements or changing your pet's diet in any way, always talk to your vet to get an expert's recommendation. Keep these risks in mind when giving coconut oil to your dog: 

Coconut Can Cause Digestive Issues

According to Dogs Naturally Magazine, coconut oil can be hard on a dog’s stomach. The most common side effect of ingesting coconut oil is oily diarrhea. This isn’t necessarily an allergic reaction, but it can indicate you’re giving your dog too much coconut oil. If you notice problems with your dog’s stools, discontinue the use of coconut oil or cut back significantly.

Too Much Coconut Oil Can Lead to Pancreatitis

Similarly, if you don’t give the right amount of coconut oil, that digestive upset can move beyond just a frustrating problem with diarrhea and turn into pancreatitis. According to the AKC, signs of pancreatitis include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea 
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dehydration
  • Distended, painful abdomen
  • A hunched back
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Restlessness 
  • Fever

Pancreatitis in pets can be acute and mild, or chronic and potentially life-threatening, and it can also lead to costly vet bills to treat or prevent. Contact your vet immediately if you notice these symptoms. 

Some Dogs Are Allergic to Coconut

Coconut allergies are rare, like most food allergies in dogs, but they are possible. Many pet owners don’t discover their dog is allergic until they have their first allergic reaction. If your dog begins having symptoms like skin itchiness, redness, swelling, bloating, or digestive problems, it may point to a coconut oil sensitivity or full-blown allergy.

5 Amazing Uses of Coconut Oil for Your Dog

When used properly, the ingredients in coconut oil can carry big benefits for your canine friend. The fatty acids in the oil are essential to your dog’s health, and they can be hard to find in other sources, especially if you feed your dog commercial kibble. 

You can apply it topically too — coconut oil’s anti-inflammatory properties make it helpful for your dog’s skin health, and it’s an excellent moisturizer for skin and fur. Try out these five unique coconut oil treatments and snacks: 

1) Create a Smooth & Flavorful Medication-Taking Process

Most dog owners know that giving medication isn’t always the easiest process — for you or them. Dogs often need their medications hidden inside something yummy to allow them to take them without a fight. Use coconut oil to make this process faster and more pleasant for your pup. Pills coated in coconut oil will smell good and slide down easily, and many dogs enjoy the light, nutty taste.

2) Make a Wonderful Moisturizer for Your Dog’s Coat

Coconut oil can help your dog’s coat look and feel great, giving it a shiny appearance and a softer texture. Apply it to their skin and coat about once a week, using a teaspoon at a time and warming it up between your hands, and allow it to absorb for a few minutes. Then, rinse off your dog. If you find that their coat is greasy, you can shampoo it afterward while still getting the moisturization benefits.  

3) Protect Your Dog’s Paws in Harsh Climates

Rubbing coconut oil on the pads of your dog’s paws can help keep them supple and healthy. If you live in an area that gets snow and ice, this can reduce the risk of cracking and injury from the cold weather. Organic coconut oil is minimally processed and a great natural alternative to commercial products created for this purpose. Keep an eye on your dog to see if they’re licking their paws and experiencing any kind of negative reaction.  

4) Use It as a Healing Agent To Treat Infections

Skin wounds, itchiness, and other issues can be very uncomfortable for your dog, to say the least. Applying coconut oil may speed up healing and decrease their discomfort thanks to its natural antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties. Try it with cases of dry skin, dermatitis, eczema, insect bites and stings (like mite bites), hot spots, dandruff, and mild allergic reactions. 

5) Ease Your Dog’s Digestion or Upset Stomach

Though eating too much coconut oil can cause digestive problems, the right amount could give your dog’s gut health a boost. Effective digestion, nutrient absorption, and keeping inflammation at bay are key to canine health and happiness. Not only does coconut oil reduce inflammation, colitis, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), but its fat content also helps your dog absorb vitamins. 

Again, it’s best to start with a small amount of coconut oil and increase it gradually to see how your dog responds. Whip up these quick Blooming Coconut Frozen Dog Treats for a delicious way to bolster their digestion or soothe their stomach. 

Find Coconut Oil and Other Human Grade Ingredients in The Honest Kitchen’s Dog Food

Coconut oil can be a powerful addition to your dog’s life, supporting digestion, skin health, weight loss or gain, and supplying vital nutrients. But without a balanced diet behind it, your dog’s health will still have a long way to go.

The Honest Kitchen’s line of human grade dog food and treats provides a strong foundation for your canine’s well-being. Many of our products include coconut oil, such as our Grain Free Chicken Clusters and Simmered Salmon & Chicken One Pot Stew. By feeding your dog a healthy, balanced diet of these foods and supplementing with coconut oil as needed, you can set the stage for a lifetime of good health. 

Browse The Honest Kitchen’s full line of dog food products for more tasty, nutritious options.

Dr. Leilani Alvarez

Leilani Alvarez, DVM, CVA, CCRT, CVCHM is an integrative veterinarian, utilizing both conventional and holistic modalities and is employed at the renowned Animal Medical Center in New York City. Dr. Alvarez is the director of The Tina Santi Flaherty Rehabilitation & Fitness Service at NYC’s Animal Medical Center. She practices Integrative Medicine, which includes therapies such as acupuncture, herbal medicine, homeopathy and physical rehabilitation, which help to increase the overall health of a patient and can often increase the success of conventional treatments.
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