How Coconut Oil Can Benefit Your Cat and Dog
Good fats, like avocado, nut and coconut oil, are now all the rage. A slew of products derived from coconut, such as water, milk, sugar and oil, claim to offer a healthy alternative to their more common counterparts. Coconut oil is widely considered a superfood with health benefits for both people and pets.
Praise for coconut oil’s positive effects on pets range from silky hair to weight loss. Many find this natural emollient treats a surprisingly wide array of ailments in dogs and cats. But is it too good to be true or truly that good?
Cure-all or snake oil?
It is safe to apply coconut oil topically to a cat or dog with the following results:
- Promotes a moisturized glossy coat
- Improves skin health (dermatitis, dry and itchy skin)
- Helps heal wounds, cuts, bites and stings
- Prevents infection
After a bath, massage in the oil, let it sit a couple minutes and wash off. Or dab onto wounds.
The properties attributed to coconut oil include antibacterial, antiviral, anti-fungal and antioxidant, so if taken orally the benefits to pets may include:
- Immune system support
- Improved digestion, metabolism and weight loss
- Balanced thyroid and help in managing diabetes
- Decreased allergic reactions
- Reduced inflammation and arthritis
- Increased energy
What’s so good about good fats?
Coconut oil for pets can contribute to maintaining good health. It is a saturated fat made up of medium chain triglycerides (MCT), which are beneficial fats associated with preventing risk factors for heart disease, obesity and arteriosclerosis. Coconut oil is also said to increase the good HDL cholesterol and make bad LDL cholesterol less harmful.
MCTs consist of fatty acids with impressive effects: lauric acid, capric and caprylic acid (antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal agents), myristic acid (for skin hydration), linoleic acid (for fat loss) and oleic acid (reduces blood pressure, increases fat-burning, protects cells from free radical damage, and may prevent type 2 diabetes and ulcerative colitis).
It’s important to go slow when administering coconut oil to pets, as it takes time for a their body to adjust to coconut oil in the diet. Start with a tiny amount, like a couple of drops on kibble to test their reaction. Side effects, such as diarrhea, greasy stools and flu-like symptoms, are indications to lower the amount.
Use caution with pets challenged by weight gain and those with fat metabolism issues. Pet stores carry the oil specially formulated for dogs and cats. Stick with organic virgin oil.
Too much of a good thing?
It’s important to use coconut oil sparingly to determine if it's tolerated. Some skeptics discount the benefits, despite research and testimonies about its effectiveness. Check with a veterinarian to see if treatment is compatible with your pet. A holistic provider may have more knowledge and experience with coconut oil.