“I’ve been using coconut oil for my hair, skin, and even in my diet with some great results. I’m wondering if it’s safe to use on my dog’s coat, in his food, or in other ways? Would he also receive the same benefits?”
Coconut oil is certainly a very popular item for people these days. Grocery store shoppers are likely to encounter numerous products containing coconut, including smoothies, cooking oil, supplements, skin moisturizers, dental care items, and more.
Are similar products safe for dogs? The short answer is: maybe. Just like with people, each dog is different, so it’s important to check with your veterinarian prior to incorporating any new food, supplement, or skin care products into your dog’s routine. The safety of the product for a particular dog may depend on his health. Coconut oil should not be used to treat health problems without first checking with your veterinarian. If your dog has symptoms of a health issue, such as a cough, skin irritation, etc., talk to your veterinarian. Using coconut oil as treatment could mask or worsen an existing problem. If your dog is healthy and you decide to introduce coconut oil into his diet or use it on his coat or skin, do so slowly and sparingly.
One of the reasons these products are so popular is that some people believe coconut has specific health benefits. There has been scientific study to support anecdotal evidence that coconut improves digestion and energy levels in people and provides immune system support. There has not, however, been extensive scientific study to support these benefits in dogs.
But anecdotal evidence does indicate similar benefits for canines. There are reports that coconut oil can have antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties. It may also aide in the relief of skin discomfort and give your dog a sleek, healthy coat.
When applied topically, coconut oil could have some moisturizing benefits for your dog’s skin and coat. However, because it is an oil, it will feel greasy, attract dirt, and may stain carpeting, furniture, and clothing.
Before giving coconut oil to your dog, or mixing it in with your dog’s food, make sure to consult your veterinarian first. With its high-fat content, too much coconut oil can lead to pancreatitis, a serious and potentially deadly illness.
Dr. Jerry Klein