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Coconut Oil and your pets
Coconut oil can aid dogs with everything from itchy or bumpy skin to digestion issues.
How Coconut Oil Benefits Dogs
So, what exactly makes coconut oil so beneficial? “Coconut oil can increase energy levels, improve skin and coat, improve digestion, and reduce allergic reactions.”
Medium-chain fatty acids, like coconut oil, help with physical and digestive ailments because they are “directly absorbed in the GI tract and go directly to the liver where they are metabolized into utilizable energy.”
Besides the overall health benefits, coconut oil can be used as a coating on pills to help dogs swallow them, and it can be applied topically to smooth and freshen a dog’s coat.
How to Give Coconut Oil to Dogs
Coconut oil can generally be given to dogs 1-2 times a day with meals. How much you should give your dog depends on his size. Many veterinarians recommend starting slow with the coconut oil. A good starting dose is ¼ teaspoon daily for small dogs up 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon daily for big dogs. However, if you have an obese or overweight dog, it’s suggested that coconut oil be provided no more than once a day because of its high fat content. Any dog who is receiving coconut oil should be closely monitored for weight gain.
“Coconut oil can also be used as a base for dog treats,” explains Smith. She suggests mixing turmeric and vitamin D in with coconut oil for optimum snacks. Turmeric works as an anti-inflammatory, while vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. Be careful that you don’t give too much vitamin D to your dog, however. Over-supplementation can cause kidney problems.
Topical Application of Coconut Oil for Dogs
Coconut oil can add moisture to your dog’s skin and prevent flaking. It also helps freshen up a dog’s coat if used with a light touch. To use it topically, simply rub a very small amount onto your hands and then gently pat the coat, run your fingers through the fur, and massage a little down onto the skin. Since coconut oil can be given orally, you don’t have to worry if dogs lick themselves after it’s been applied to their coats.
Coconut Oil and Ear Infections
Coconut oil is both antibacterial and anti fungal. And a study in “Dermatitis” in 2008 proved it to be an effective anti fungal.
Here’s an easy recipe using coconut oil:
Place 2 tablespoons coconut oil in a saucepan on low heat with two fresh garlic cloves for extra antibacterial power.
Simmer until the oil is liquid then let it cool slightly (you don’t want the oil to be too warm for your dog’s ears).
Use a dropper and place two to three drops in the affected ear. You can also dip a cotton ball in the mixture and use it to clean your dog’s ear.
You’ll want to apply any of these solutions to your dog’s ear two to three times a day, for 5 to 7 days. Once the infection is gone, you can keep some on hand and give the ears a cleaning once a week to help prevent future infections
Coconut Oil Alternatives for Dogs
If your dog has an allergic reaction to coconut oil, or there are simply no improvements seen by adding coconut oil to your dog’s diet, there are alternatives. Cold water fish oils, like salmon oil, and to a lesser extent, flax seed oil, are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids that can provide some of the same benefits of coconut oil. Of course, with any supplements, a dog’s intake should be monitored and it’s best to consult your veterinarian when it comes to any health issues with your pet. Giving coconut oil or similar supplements to dogs is not a guaranteed cure-all or magic fix.
Benefits of Coconut Oil for Cats
Using coconut oil for cats can have multiple benefits, says Dr. Anna Gardner, a holistic veterinarian in Washington. Externally, Gardner says coconut oil can help with allergies, dry skin, itchiness, and overall coat health. Internally, coconut oil can benefit a cat’s immune system, help with hairballs, reduce arthritis inflammation, improve bad breath, and help with a healthy stomach, she says.
Dr. Jeffrey Stupine, VMD, head veterinarian for wellness at the Pennsylvania SPCA, doesn’t recommend giving coconut oil on a regular basis, but he says his colleagues have seen it offer such benefits as treating dermatitis.
How to Give Cats Coconut Oil
You can use small amounts of coconut oil with food or apply it topically for cats with skin problems, Gardner says. But, as with any new food or supplement, don’t give your cat too much coconut oil too soon.
“I would introduce it slowly because, like anything, some cats tolerate it better than others or the cat could be allergic to it—which is rare but happens with any dietary supplement,” Gardner says. “Also adding too much too fast could cause diarrhea.”
For an average-size cat, give ¼ to ½ teaspoon once or twice a day, Gardner recommends. Other vets recommend starting with as little as 1/8 of a teaspoon daily. Gardner says that cat owners who want to use coconut oil to treat or prevent hairballs can give it less often, such as a few times a week. Overall, she notes that you should start small and adjust amounts as necessary.
As for how to get your cat to eat the coconut oil, Gardner says that shouldn’t be a problem unless you have a particularly picky cat: “It can be given directly, as a lot of cats like the taste,” she says. If your cat won’t eat coconut oil on its own, try mixing it with a tablespoon or two of especially pungent, canned cat food.
Alternatives to Coconut Oil for Cats
If your cat won’t tolerate coconut oil, there are alternatives to consider. In fact, Stupine says that coconut oil seems to be used in a manner similar to fish oil, though coconut oil doesn’t have the Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil.
Gardner says that fish oil and topical olive oil can be good alternatives, though ideally they would be used together to maximize fatty acids.