Hidden in your pantry may be a secret weapon when it comes to keeping your cat or dog healthy. Coconut oil has recently gained attention as a valuable tool for cooking, skin health and much more in people, but did you know your pet can receive those same benefits?
Coconut oil is an edible oil that is extracted from the meat of matured coconuts from the coconut tree. After extraction, there are several ways the oil can be processed. For the purposes of this article, we are referring only to pure extra virgin coconut oil that has not been hydrogenated or fractionated. Coconut oil is solid at room temperature and has been used for thousands of years in tropical climates as a cooking oil.
Try these ten tips to incorporate coconut oil into your pet health regimen.
1. As a barrier against harsh chemicals, such as road salt. Since coconut oil is edible, it won’t harm your pet if he licks it off his feet.
2. To treat mild gingivitis. Gingivitis, or inflammation of the gums, is the most common oral disease in cats and dogs. You can read more about dental disease here. Rubbing coconut oil on the gums daily can help reduce inflammation and pain.
3. As a barrier against environmental allergens. If you pet has seasonal allergies, keeping those allergens away from the skin can help reduce itching and discomfort. Applying a very thin layer of coconut oil to a dog’s coat after bathing can help repel allergens.
4. As a moisturizer for dry skin. Try this bath tip from Dr. Danna. Bathe your dog first, then apply coconut oil and massage it deep into the skin, from the tips of the ears to the tip of the tail, avoiding the pads on the bottoms of the feet, but including tops of toes and toenails. Allow to set for five minutes, then rebathe to remove excess oil and rinse quickly. This method provides a soothing massage with oil, hydrates the skin and is safe if the pet licks itself.
5. To relieve constipation. For softer stools, give 1/2 teaspoon organic extra-virgin coconut oil (be sure to use food grade!) orally per ten pounds of body weight, one to two times daily.
6. To fight bacterial infections. Coconut oil is high in lauric acid, a fatty acid known for it’s antimicrobial properties. Applying coconut oil to minor abrasions can help prevent infection. As mentioned before, the oil is edible, so it is safe to use if your dog or cat licks the area where the oil has been applied.
7. For cleaning skin folds on breeds like bull dogs or pugs. These breeds have skin folds on the face and body that frequently stay moist, leading to irritation, odor or infection. Cleaning the folds with coconut oil will help remove bacteria, calm and moisturize irritated skin, and reduce or eliminate odor.
8. For brain power. Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) have been clinically shown to improve brain energy metabolism. Coconut oil is rich in MCTs! Geriatric pets may benefit from the MCTs in coconut oil for cognitive function. Give 1/4 teaspoon per ten pounds of body weight twice a day for basic MCT support.
9. For thyroid support. MCTs are an excellent addition for dogs suffering from thyroid disease or that are just overweight. The MCTs in coconut oil balance the thyroid, helping aid weight loss and helping less active dogs feel more energetic.
10. As a hairball remedy. Conventional hairball remedies contain mineral oil. Coconut oil is a more healthful, non petroleum based lubricant for cats with hairball problems. If your kitty won’t eat it out of a bowl or on her food, dab some on the nose or paw.
Be aware that pure virgin coconut oil (which contains no hydrogenation) is 92% saturated fat. This is the highest percentage of saturated fat of any fat. Coconut oil contains 117 calories per tablespoon, 14 grams total fat and 12 grams saturated fat. As with any supplement, it should be used orally in moderation. If your pet is on a diet or you are counting his calories to maintain his weight, be sure to factor the calories and fat from coconut oil into your totals.