Coconut for Dogs: Pros and Cons
Coconut oil, coconut flour, and the newest offering, dehydrated coconut chips, have become popular among dog parents looking for easy nutritional boosts for their dogs. Coconut can be a worthwhile addition to your dog's diet, however, there are some pitfalls to avoid when feeding coconut products to your dog.
If you thought coconut was only for pina coladas, keep reading!
Coconut oil often tops the list of food bowl additions for many dogs and it's known as an effective topical treatment for skin irritations.
Often referred to as a 'superfood', coconut oil has a number of health benefits, but it should be added to your dog's diet with a nutritional purpose. Coconut oil contains a lot of calories - about 120 per tablespoon, and could easily add too many calories and too much fat to your dog's diet if you're not careful.
Coconut oil is a Medium Chain Triglyceride (MCT for short) consisting of lauric, caprylic, and capric acids. Coconut oil's purported therapeutic benefits include antiviral, antimicrobial, and antifungal properties; it's often used as part of an anti-yeast protocol. MCTs have been shown to improve brain function in both puppies and senior dogs, and it can be used to help support the metabolism. It's often well tolerated as a source of dietary fat for dogs who cannot metabolize other types of fat. As well, unlike many other oils, coconut oil has a much more stable shelf life.
This is where it becomes tricky, because the type of coconut oil, and the container it's stored in, have an impact on its nutritional value.
Tips for Choosing Coconut Oil
Coconut oil must be of excellent quality in order to deliver therapeutic health benefits. Poor quality coconut oil in a plastic jar is not worth the calories for your dog. Choose coconut oil that is:
Virgin or Extra Virgin
Hexane free (if you can find this information on the label)
Stored in a glass jar (store the glass jar in a dark cupboard). The chemicals in plastic jars can leech into the oil, particularly when exposed to light.
5 Tips For Adding Coconut Oil to Your Dog's Diet
The standard recommended dose for coconut oil is 1/2 teaspoon per 10 lbs of body weight. This might deliver too many calories for some dogs, so you will need to decide how much, how often, and why, you should feed it to your dog.
If adding coconut oil to your dog's diet on a daily basis provides too many calories and too much fat, try pairing it with other foods to boost nutrient absorption. Coconut oil increases the absorption of antioxidants in berries and lycopene rich foods such as tomato paste and watermelon. When paired with turmeric and fresh black pepper, coconut oil increases the potency of the curcumin and becomes a powerful anti-inflammatory paste known as Golden Paste.
Mix berries with coconut oil to make an easy treat for your dog: Coconut Berry Bites.
Coconut oil does not contain Omega-3 fatty acids, but coconut oil may increase the bio-availability of fish oil.
Choose commercial raw diets with added coconut oil carefully, since the amount, quality and source may be unknown. Also consider the overall impact that poor quality coconut oil will have on the meal in terms of calories and fat. I am not a fan of added coconut oil in commercial raw meals.
Use coconut flour in place of wheat flour in treat recipes for your dog. Coconut flour is gluten free and low in carbohydrates which makes it a smart choice when baking treats for your dog.
Keep in mind that coconut flour absorbs a lot of liquid compared to wheat flour and so you will need to adjust recipes.
Dogs love my Salmon Herb Pup-bites made with coconut flour!
Dehydrated Coconut Chips
Dehydrated coconut chips are an awesome treat for dogs!
Dehydrated coconut chips are not the same as the desiccated or flaked coconut you might use for baking - coconut chips look like a 5 cm strip of coconut. They are loaded with fiber and can be used in place of pumpkin puree to regulate your dog's stools. Depending on the size of your dog, and his tolerance for fiber, start with a small amount and increase slowly.
Be sure to buy organic, non-GMO coconut chips free from sugar and sulfites.