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I can't remember when I first learned about the benefits of coconut oil for dogs. Probably one of the many articles promoting coconut oil that used to be published by Dogs Naturally Magazine. Yep, I was such a sheeple back then and followed everything DNM, Dr. Becker, and Rodney Habib said. Not that they're wrong – I just never did my own research nor did I ask myself if something I was doing was right for my dogs. And that's how I ended up treating coconut oil like it was an Omega 3 fatty acid. I read about the benefits, assumed that since it's an oil it must fall in the same camp as fish oil, and went from there.
My eyes were opened by a militant raw feeding group that told me that coconut oil was a fad – just like feeding vegetables or green tripe to dogs. It was in that group that I learned that coconut oil is nothing like fish oil, something that I could have learned myself if I had bothered to do the homework. And they nearly convinced me to kick the coconut oil to the curb and then I sat in a session by the ladies of CocoTherapy at the Raw and Natural Dog Summit 2018 and I've been a fan of coconut oil since. So much of a fan that I have many uses of coconut oil. Thank heavens I stocked up.
22 Uses of Coconut Oil by Dog Moms
Benefits of Coconut Oil
So, why add coconut oil to our dogs' diet? Here are thirteen benefits you can't ignore.
- Coconut oil is rich in anti-oxidants.
- Coconut oil improves nutrient absorption of fat-soluble vitamins.
- Coconut oil prevents the spread of cancer cells and enhances the immune system.
- Coconut oil regulates the immune system.
- Coconut oil repels mosquitoes and fleas when massaged into our dogs' coats.
- Coconut oil soothes and heals cuts, wounds, hot spots, bites, and stings.
- Coconut oil is antimicrobial and kills yeast and clears ear infections.
- Coconut oil is a natural anti-inflammatory and helps with arthritis.
- Coconut oil prevents hairballs because it’s rich in fiber; and because of the fiber, coconut oil also is great for pets with anal gland issues and helps to keep pets regular.
- Coconut oil freshens breath and makes an effective toothpaste, killing bacteria along the gumline.
- Coconut oil is a thermogenic oil that stimulates the metabolism, helping a dog lose weight.
- Coconut oil is great for the brain and nervous system; the liver converts MCTs into Ketones and is the ideal food for the brain, preventing cognitive decline in aging pets.
- Coconut oil is great for dogs with allergies. Allergies are due to an overactive immune system and you can regulate the system by adding lauric acid to a dog’s diet.
Learn more about coconut oil in my blog post Stop Feeding Your Dog Coconut Oil?.
Start with a Quality Coconut Oil
Before I share my secrets, I want to remind you that the quality of the coconut oil we purchase is important. There is no such thing as extra-virgin coconut oil. That “extra” is a marketing ploy to get us to open our wallets faster. I look for a coconut oil sold in a glass jar (to avoid contamination from long term storage in plastic), consistently comes from one source (so I know what I'm getting), and comes from a company that knows what they're doing and is dedicated to providing a quality product. Basically, I only buy coconut oil from CocoTherapy.
Nope, this isn't a sponsored post or an attempt to collect coins through affiliate links. I'm sharing this because I truly love and respect this company and I use their products daily.
1 – Add Coconut Oil to Your First Aid Kit
Whether it's for me or for one of the dogs, coconut oil is a great addition to the first aid kit. As a raw feeder, I have had the good fortune to cut myself with one of my sharp knives. My dogs have experienced cuts, scrapes, and cracked paws (snow is harsh) and coconut oil is a wonderful salve that promotes fast healing. Coconut oil is a natural antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal. I always reach for coconut oil first for minor cuts.
2 – Use Coconut Oil to Clear Up Yeasty Ears and Skin
Coconut oil permanently improved my dog's ear health in less than a week. Sydney used to have an issue with yeast. It was on her skin (her tummy and armpit areas), around her privates, and in her ears. After switching to raw, I learned that antibiotics weren't the best solution and after doing some research, I discovered a solution – coconut oil. I used a soft cloth to wiped her skin and misted her ears with a 50/50 mixture apple cider vinegar and water. I used a clean cloth to clean her skin and ears gently. And then I massaged a small amount of coconut oil on her skin and put a little in her ears. I did this for four or five days in a row (less wasn't enough) and she's never had issues since.
3 – Use Coconut Oil as a Coat Conditioner
Instead of spending money on coat conditioners, I massage coconut oil into my dogs' coats weekly. According to PetMD, coconut oil adds “moisture to your dog's skin and prevent[s] flaking.” Sydney has dry skin and flaking when I brush her, massaging coconut oil into her coat has made a huge difference. When applying coconut oil to my dogs' coats, I rub the coconut oil into my hands until all of it melts into shiny goodness and then run my fingers through their coat and along their skin. It doesn't take much. Also, a dog's fur acts like a candle wick and as they move, the coconut oil moves down the hair shaft to the skin.
4 – Use Coconut Oil Between Baths to Freshen a Dog's Coat
Bathing five dogs monthly (or even every other month) is a daunting task. Especially if they don't need it. Instead of lining every one up for a bath, I use coconut oil between baths to freshen their coat. As I stated above, coconut oil is a natural antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal. The bacteria that cause our dogs' coats to smell is reduced when we massage coconut oil into their fur and skin.
Some people wonder “can I leave coconut oil on my dog's coat?” Or “do I have to rinse coconut oil off of my dog?” You can leave coconut oil on your dog because it only takes a small amount to freshen a dog's coat. Although the greasiness of coconut oil fades quickly, I still don't want my dogs' fur weighed down with coconut oil, so I add a quarter size to my palm to massage into my dogs' coat. This amount can cover an entire dog – head, body, legs, all. If you have dogs smaller than mine (which weigh between 55 and 75 lbs), you can use a lot less. And, if you use too much, of course, you can wash it off. Just use a small amount of shampoo to help.
5 – Coconut Oil is One of the Main Ingredients in Golden Paste
When Sydney was healing from a partial cruciate tear and began showing signs of arthritis, I started making golden paste for my dogs. Coconut oil is one of the main ingredients along with turmeric powder, fresh ground pepper, and Ceylon cinnamon. I saw a difference quickly and now add it periodically to all of my dogs' diet (I alternate – one month on, one month off based on how much I make). Golden paste has been found to reduce inflammation and it's a strong antioxidant for animals according to Mary Mosquera Cochran, RD of Ohio State University.
6 – Coconut Oil Acts as a Delivery System for Medicine
When I used to give my dogs medicine, I would use peanut butter as a delivery system. My boyfriend loves PB ‘n J sandwiches and we always had Jiffy on hand. And then one day we didn't have any in the house so I started using coconut oil and the dogs loved it. Although I love peanuts (I can't stand peanut butter), it's a good thing that I'm not giving my dogs peanut butter as a treat. Sadly, peanuts in storage are subject to mold and other toxins and I was never worried until I recently bit into a handful of peanuts just purchased from the store and had to spit them out. Why? Mold. I took a look at my delicious nuts and they had a dark dusting that had penetrated the shells. Never again. Man, I miss my peanuts.
7 – Coconut Oil is a Yummy Treat
And, because when one dog is getting coconut oil, all the dogs want coconut oil. So I now give it to my dogs as a daily treat. It's really great for them, scroll back up to see the list of 13 benefits if you don't believe me. The best part is that I can get my pack to do something I need with one spoonful of coconut oil – they'll follow me anywhere, including out to their yard when I have to clean the house.
8 – Coconut Oil is Great for Senior Dogs
A 2010 study showed that adding coconut oil to a dog's diet improved cognitive functions because the medium-chain fatty acids provide “the brain with energy in the form of ketones.” We have two senior dogs; Rodrigo and Sydney celebrated their 10th birthday in 2020 and are doing well and I know that adding coconut oil to their diet will help them maintain cognitive functions for years to come.
9 – Use Coconut Oil to Soothe Digestive Systems
We have a dog with EPI (Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency) and all of our dogs deal with some digestive issues from time to time (check out #14) and when this happens, I reach for coconut oil. Last week, Zoey was a bit constipated, which coconut oil cleared up in a day.
Rodrigo was diagnosed with EPI in 2019 and, in his case, his pancreas is no longer producing digestive enzymes and I have to add a supplement to each of his meals daily (for the rest of his life) to help him digest his food. The beauty of coconut oil is that the medium-chain fatty acids also serve to help his body digest food and absorb nutrients. It soothes his gut and clears up excess bad bacteria. And coconut oil reduces inflammation, preventing the digestive flare-ups he used to experience regularly. Despite his diagnosis, he has been very healthy for the first time in years.
10 – Protect Paws from Hot Sun, Freezing Snow, and Allergies
We have mild summers and winters as compared to other parts of the country, but some years we get snow and summer temps can reach 100 degrees F. To protect our dogs, we limit their exposure. In the winter, they can only play in the snow for 15-20 minutes at a time. And on hot summer days, I walk our dogs at dusk or dawn to prevent them from burning their paws on the pavement. During these temperature highs and lows, I've found that the habit of massage the dogs' paws with coconut oil keeps them healthy and soft.
Rodrigo has environmental allergies and his paws irritate him at the change in seasons resulting in a lot of licking. Changing his diet to fresh food helped by boosting his immune system, however, it wasn't a complete solution. Feeding and applying coconut oil to my dog's paws was the answer. Feeding him coconut oil ALSO serves to boost his immune system and massaging his paws before bedtime with coconut oil has helped to relieve the irritation and reduce the constant licking.
12 – Coconut Oil May Repel Fleas
Can we use coconut oil for flea control? Turns out that the lauric acid in coconut oil repels fleas and ticks. So my habit of using coconut oil to freshen their coat and as a coat conditioner also reduces my need to use flea repellent products, saving me money. We've never had an issue with fleas. Maybe a bite here or there once a year, but nothing more.
13 – Coconut Oil is a Natural Toothpaste for Dogs
Coconut oil is great for a dog's teeth and gums. I started using coconut oil as a toothpaste because I was told to massage my dogs' gums (I use a finger brush) and my dogs didn't like this chore. So I began putting coconut oil on the finger brush and they were happy to let me at their gums. It never occurred to me that the antibacterial properties were killing bacteria that formed along the gumline, improving dental health, and freshening their breath. Bonus!!!
14 – Knock Out Room Clearing Gas
So, I touched on the benefits for the digestive system above, but I had to come back before publishing to add that it helped to clear up my dogs' gas. Last night, I gave the dogs green tripe and raw meaty bones for dinner. Everyone had gas all night and Rodrigo's butt was the worse and continued to clear the room well into Sunday. So I grabbed some coconut oil and gave everyone a spoonful (Rodrigo got two) and took them outside to walk around the property. After what seemed like forever, Rodrigo finally assumed the position and took a second poop of the day and the gas died down tremendously.
There's still a toot here and there – silent, but deadly, but the smells that had Johan and I walking around with twisted facial expressions was gone thanks to coconut oil.
In the past, gas like this led to a lot of diarrhea, but Rodrigo still has solid poops. Score One for coconut oil!
So, that's my list for the dogs. Coconut oil has many benefits for humans too.
Benefits of Coconut Oil for Humans
15 – Combine Coconut Oil with Essential Oils to Make Beauty Products
I'm an essential oil junkie and love making my own products with essential oils. When making a roller, I usually use fractionated coconut oil with a combination of oils. When making products, like moisturizers, I use coconut oil by CocoTherapy. There are thousands of recipes online, but I stick with sites that I trust – Plant Therapy and Simply Earth.
16 – Use Coconut Oil as a Moisturizer
It's crazy to think that we can use coconut oil as a moisturizer without waking up with a ton of pimples, but it's true. I use it daily, morning and evening, on clean skin. First, I clean my skin. Second, I spritz my face with Facial Spray With Aloe, Herbs, and Rosewater by Mario Badescu. And third, I massage a tiny amount of coconut oil (a little goes a long way) on my face. When I'm finished, my face looks a bit greasy, but that goes away in no time. My skin feels so soft, I haven't gotten a pimple since I started this routine, and everyone says that I look 15 years young than I am.
17 – Use Coconut Oil as a Makeup Remover
I have an amazing liquid eye-liner that I love and it's a bitch to remove. By the time I get it off with makeup remover or soap, the skin around my eyes is raw and my eyes are red. You'd think I'd stop using the eye-liner, but nope, I switched to using coconut oil as a makeup remover instead. It takes no time to remove all of my makeup, a small amount goes a long way. I then wash my face as normal and then follow the steps I mentioned above.
18 – Use Coconut Oil on My Natural, Curly Hair
I decided to kick the creamy crack (relaxers to permanently straighten hair for y'all not in the know) several years ago. I wore protective styles (weaves, braids) for a long time and went to rocking my natural curls when my hair guru moved to Michigan last fall. I watched endless videos on caring for natural black hair, tried countless products, and finally settled on a routine that gives my curls shape, definition, and bounce. It's called the LOC method.
- L = leave-in conditioner. I use Shea Moisture Leave-in or Rinse-out Conditioner (with Red Palm Oil & Cocoa Butter + Flaxseed Oil).
- O = oil. I use a mixture of coconut oil by CocoTherapy, Jamaican castor oil, and clary sage essential oil by Plant Therapy.
- C = cream. I really love a hair moisturizer called R&B by Lush (the soap store in the mall). It's all-natural, it smells great, and it works.
I follow up this system with a product called Miss Jessie's Coily Custard that I buy at Target. This system keeps my curls in place for days, doesn't dry out or cause flakes, and my hair is thick, healthy, and growing. My current stylist always comments that I have a ton of hair, something I haven't heard since I was a child.
19 – Use Coconut Oil to Massage My Feet
At the end of a long day doing yard work, housework, meal prep, and playing with dogs – I just want to sit back and relax. My feet are usually killing me. A long shower does the work of relaxing my stiff muscles and when I'm finished, I grab a small amount of coconut oil and massage it into my feet and it does a great job of softening the skin and keeping them looking good between pedicures.
20 – Use Coconut Oil to Relieve Dry, Itchy Skin
I don't often have dry, itchy skin, because I'm a lover of body butters and creams by Plant Therapy. But as I've gotten older, there are times when my skin is so dry and itchy that I feel like I'm going insane. Apparently, this is a lovely symptom of perimenopause which I discuss on my blog DogMomStyle.com. Coconut oil does a great job of alleviating itchy, dry skin. It works for Sydney, why not me? I treat the area with coconut oil and follow up with body cream everywhere after the shower. No more itch.
21 – Coconut Oil and Charcoal Helps Transition to Natural Deodorant
I recently transitioned to natural deodorant after years of trying and failing. It turns out that our armpits have to detox for a week before a natural deodorant actually works. I share details on DogMomStyle.com. One of the ways to detox armpits is to apply a blend of coconut oil and charcoal. You can make your own or buy one online or at a beauty store. I love a product by Pacifica, which I continue to use in the shower. This allows me to go a couple of days without deodorant at times. You can check out my list of favorite natural deodorants on DogMomStyle.com.
22 – Coconut Oil Wakes Up My Brain in the Morning
I'm not a morning person. I only get out of bed because my dogs and cat need to be fed. Although, there are times when we'll have an impromptu fasting day because I will not get out of bed. With the Shelter in Place, which I share about on my blog, Staying Home with Dogs, I am getting up to get things done – my day job, blogging, feeding our pets, taking the dogs for a walk, yard work, and more. To get my brain going I reach for coconut oil so that I don't spend an hour sitting on the sofa and staring blankly at the TV, waiting for the brain fog to lift.
Adding a small spoonful of coconut oil or MCT oil to my morning Earl Gray tea does the trick every time. The medium-chain fatty acids in coconut oil make me feel more energized in the morning, curb my appetite (so I eat healthier since I don't have that “I'm Starving” feeling), and it boosts my metabolism. I have a second cup of tea with coconut oil in the afternoon to avoid that dragging feeling after lunch.
But Won't Coconut Oil Make My Dog Fat?
Yeah, it could, if you don't adjust their diet to account for the additional calories. I can't tell you how to do that, it's different for every dog and involves a little trial and error. When I add coconut oil to my dogs' meals, I reduce the amount of other food in the bowl by a couple of ounces. If I notice that one of my dogs is still gaining weight then I adjust the diet again or I increase exercise. Exercise, at least for most of my dogs, is important in keeping the weight at a manageable level. For Sydney, our couch potato, I have to work on food and exercise because she simply doesn't burn as many calories as my other dogs.
Where You Can Buy Coconut Oil for Dogs (and Yourself)
I buy coconut oil from CocoTherapy. I'm subscribed to their newsletter where I get great information about coconut oil via email and a heads up of specials. You can find CocoTherapy products on Amazon, but these are listed by resellers. I prefer to buy directly from the company.