Dr. Mark is a veterinarian. He has been working with dogs for more than 40 years.
Okay, I will admit I have an advantage over a lot of dog owners out there. I live on a small coconut farm, and every day I split open a few fresh fruit so that my dogs can share a few with my geese and chickens.
But why bother? Well, the dogs stand around and wait for that last blow of the machete, so they obviously enjoy it, but what are the benefits of coconut? We'll cover the benefits of the following:
- Coconut oil
- Coconut meat and fiber
- Coconut water
- Coconut soap
Coconut Meat, Fibers, and Oil
There are a lot of websites out there extolling the numerous benefits of coconut oil. The oil supplies essential fatty acids and is a great source of antioxidants. No research is being done in this area, and probably none will be since no company can claim a patent on coconuts, but many users have claimed an improved coat after coconut oil is given with the diet.
How Coconut Oil Is Extracted
The oil, of course, comes from fresh coconuts. Sometimes the oil is extracted through a dry process, where the meat is removed and dried, the oil is extracted with solvents like hexane, and a high-fiber mash is left over to feed to livestock.
Others use a wet process to extract oil. The raw coconut mash has to be boiled; it does not use any solvents but does not produce as much oil.
The best oil, in my opinion, is virgin coconut oil produced from fresh coconut meat. The meat is removed from the shell, dried, and then put under a screw press to extract the oil. Not much is produced this way, and 1,000 coconuts only produce about 50–75 liters of oil.
Uses of the Oil
The oil has a lot of potential uses. Here, it's used to treat mange or bacterial dermatitis, burns, small cuts, and even viral papillomas on chickens. It is also a great moisturizer, so it's used to moisturize the elbow if a callus develops. Some others add it to their dog's diet, of course.
What About Fresh Coconut?
But if fresh coconut is available, is it even necessary to extract the oil before adding it to your dog's diet? Fresh coconut will provide your dog with oils as well as supplying a great source of fiber to his diet. Some US websites recommend purchasing the brown coconuts available in grocery stores, but the best coconuts available are the green coconuts that can be harvested fresh or purchased at Asian markets. Dogs prefer the taste of the coconut water, the still-young coconut meat, and they will even chew on the husks—a natural dental floss!
When coconuts are harvested still green, they are full of water that has some great benefits for your dog. The water is a natural source of electrolytes, and any dog suffering from a GI problem like parvovirus can keep from becoming badly dehydrated just by consuming coconut water. In fact, any undiagnosed case of diarrhea (both in dogs and humans) is treated with coconut water, a source of fluids and electrolytes.
The water has potassium, calcium, magnesium, zinc, selenium, iodine, sulfur, B-vitamins, and even vitamin C. Humans use it as a natural sports drink, but I use it in my puppy milk replacer because of the vitamin levels. My adult dogs just drink it because they enjoy it!
Other Health Claims
There are a lot of other claims that are not substantiated and probably never will be. Since it is a natural diuretic, coconut water is said to prevent urinary tract infections and reduce the size of kidney stones that have already formed. Some producers claim that the water contains cytokinins that will strengthen the connective tissues and reduce aging. There is no way to determine this. If my dog lives an extra few years, was it because of the coconut water, the açai that I give her, the raw diet that she is on, etc.?
Even if your dog is eating coconut to benefit from the meat and oils, there is another way to make use of this amazing fruit. Coconut soap is available in some areas. It really is only made from about 20% coconut oil, but it is popular here in Brazil and sold for regular bathing and treating skin disorders in dogs.
An itchy coat is treated with a coconut soap bath since it has a moisturizing effect. If the itching is caused by an infection or a mild dermatitis, the coconut soap may be enough to resolve the problem. Before the introduction of chemical spot-on treatments, this was also a common product to use in flea control.
Making a Coconut Soap Substitute
If you do not have coconut soap available where you live, you can make a substitute by adding about one-tenth coconut oil to a bottle of a mild shampoo. Make sure you shake it well each time before shampooing your dog.
If it is not enough to clear up your dog's skin condition, a holistic veterinarian should perform a thorough examination.
So, should you try to find coconut oil at the store and decide that is good enough for your dog? You can decide for yourself, but when you are deciding what foods to buy for yourself and your family, do you purchase processed food or natural foods? It is a lot easier to purchase processed foods and take a multivitamin, but it is not better. Not for you, not for your dog.
Take a little time and provide your dog with what she needs. She will repay you every day.
The video above shows one of the benefits of having coconuts around. Dogs love this part.
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Questions & Answers
Question: How much coconut water should be given to a three pound, twelve-year-old dog? Also, can cats drink it?
Answer: It is impossible to give you an exact number because it does depend on if your dog is dehydrated at all. If he is not, a tiny dog like yours can drink about 75 ml of coconut water per day. Cats can drink it too, but be sure to keep fresh water in a separate container since if they do not like the taste they may refuse to drink.
Question: Can the hairy straw on the outside of a coconut hurt my pet if they swallow it?
Answer: Although it is theoretically possible, not allowing a dog to chew on a coconut because the husk may irritate the throat is like saying "do not let your dog walk on grass since he might fall and break his leg." That is also theoretically possible.
One of my puppies is chewing on a coconut husk even as I write this.
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on July 19, 2017:
Linda, that sounds excellent. Make sure it is all raw, the carrots, etc are put throuh a blender so that the cellulose is broken open and she can et the vitamins and minerals. For the calcium, make sure she eats raw bones too. (My do loves chicken necks.
Linda Ferguson on July 17, 2017:
I want to know more about what can help my little girl live as long as possible! She's almost five but needs more pizzazz! I give her unsweetened coconut and oil and egg shell ground for calcium! She eats the very best I can buy and eats human treats like a bite of apple or pineapple, kiwi, etc. She loves it! Or raw veggies instead of dog treats! Carrots, celery, broccoli, etc.. She loves it all! Now what else can I add?
doni on March 27, 2017:
my dog loves the raw coconut oil. I feed her about a tablespoon 3 times a week. she has a beautiful coat. her bowel movements are like clock work. she suffered from worms,and throwing up bowel. She no longer suffers from any of those. She is my best friend. I drink it in my coffee. my energy and my gut has never felt better. Also able to lose a few pounds!
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on September 27, 2016:
Coconut aminos is just a substitute for soy sauce made out of coconut flowers. It should be okay, but check the label carefully to see if there are any added ingredients. If you have any doubts, do not give to your dog! (You can leave me a message or just google the unusual ingredient and see if there are any health warnings out there for dogs. Remember, if you have any doubts do not give it!)
A on September 27, 2016:
Can dogs have coconut aminos?
Candy on November 14, 2015:
I just sat down a small dish with coconut water for my pit bull from some I had opened up for myself. it was probably about 1/3c. She lapped it up eagerly. She is not much of a water drinker. After I she drank it I had a second thought and wondered if I had done the wrong thing. She does get coconut oil for her skin issue but I just had an "oh crap" moment. I was so glad to find out that coconut in all forms is good. He diet is very restricted due to skin issues so I am going to go buy so unsweetened flaked coconut as a treat for her.
montana moore on November 02, 2015:
My puppy milo has a lot of those problems I will most deff. Take this into consideration... After all I love my boy
Eiddwen from Wales on January 14, 2014:
Interesting and very useful.
Stephanie from Texas on January 12, 2014:
This is a very interesting hub! I know the benefits of coconut for humans and use it religiously, but I never thought to apply this to my dogs life. Thanks so much for sharing.
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on January 12, 2014:
Blond Logic, I am the same way. The dogs know they have to wait for me to collect the water first, and then they can have the fresh coconut. One of my neighbors even has a dog that will shred the husks and break open the coconuts himself. My dogs are too lazy for that!
Bob, send a few of those, okay? I promise to let my dogs have them. (You mean your feed store didn't sell machetés? How does one live without a macheté in the house?)
Rebecca--thanks for the comment on the photo, I think she acts up when I pull the camera out. You should see her playing dead!
Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on January 12, 2014:
This is awesome information. Never heard of it, (coconut products for dogs) and very glad to learn. The intro photo is hilarious.
Bob Bamberg on January 12, 2014:
Here in the colonies, we like to shred the coconut, mold it into a bar, put a couple of almonds on it and pour milk chocolate over it. It would be hard to find a more nutritious food...the benefits of coconut oil and flesh, protein from the nuts, and the benefit of the cocoa bean. Nice try, huh?
Interesting hub. This time of year, dry skin is a problem for me, so I'm going to try some coconut to see if it helps. Is there an easy way to shuck a coconut when one is all out of machetes? Voted up, useful and interesting.
Mary Wickison from Brazil on January 12, 2014:
Hi Dr. Mark,
One of our dogs loves coconuts. The coconut water, I drink and then machete it open for the dog. I also use the coconut soap you mentioned on him, as all other dog shampoos, affect him badly.
Benefits of Using Coconut Oil on Your Dog
Curious about the benefits of using coconut oil on your dog? You’ve heard of all the amazing benefits to using coconut oil on skin, hair, cuticles, teeth and in your gut. But, have you heard that all these same benefits are true for dogs, too?
Well, they are. In fact, the use of coconut oil is widely promoted within the doggy-community because of its vast array of benefits.
So, lets first understand what part of coconut oil makes it so magical and then we can go onto its fantastic applications to your pup!
Coconut oil is made from coconuts harvested off of the coconut palm and consists mainly of saturated fats.
Within these fatty stores, there’s Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT’s) that offer us and our canine friend benefits such as energy.
Going even deeper into the scientific pool, we see that MTC’s in coconut oil consist mainly of lauric acid. This is the most important reason for the proactive use of coconut oil in dogs it has clear and natural anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral properties!
So, there’s really no reason to resist the calming and organic allure of coconut oil for dogs. Here’s more:
1. It Keeps Coats Blindingly Shiny
There’s two ways you can use coconut oil to keep a dog’s coat gleaming and flowing gracefully in the wind. Topically and by ingestion.
As coconut oil reaps most benefits on the outside of your pup, here at Squishface, we will always recommend using coconut oil topically. Of course, this doesn’t mean that it can’t have many benefits internally, too. These will be touched on later.
However, for now, using coconut oil on the fur is a tried and tested method of bringing out the best in your dog. Well-used for shows and plain showing-off, coconut oil can be applied as part of a shampoo, conditioner or a leave-in remedy.
2. It Works Wonders on Cuts and Grazes
As mentioned, coconut oil’s lauric acid is a natural deterrent to all of nature’s microbial unwanted guests.
If you use coconut oil on any cuts or grazes that your dog has (when it ran into the garden you specifically told it not to), then your dog will be forever grateful.
The market is crammed with remedies for cracked paw pads, cuts and grazes (not to mention the internal medicines that they will never take). Yet, most of them have extra unnecessary ingredients that could cause further irritation to your pup.
Coconut oil, on the other hand, offers natural anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral properties while being soothing to the skin, affordable and long-lasting.
3. It Improves Irritated Skin or Allergic Reactions
In a very similar case to being used to tried cuts and grazes, it can also be used for reoccurring skin irritations or allergies.
Often, when a dog has dry or irritated skin, there something at work. For example allergies, lesions, parasites, fungal infections or environmental changes. So, being the responsible parent at Squishface we are here to let you know that it’s best to take your pup for a visit to their best friend the vet.
Your vet will be able to tell you the root cause and provide a method of action. But, if the cause is something simple and harmless such as eczema, hay fever or boredom-scratching, you have your treatment right here!
Coconut oil is soothing and thick on the skin, as well as holding water-resistant properties. So, simply apply generously to the area and keep applying until symptoms subside.
4. It Will Eliminate that Doggy Odor
Luckily for us all, coconut oil smells a-mazing. That’s not to say that your dog smells. But, let’s just think about how we can become accustomed to the smells around us. Or, how sometimes your dog will emerge in the distance covered in mud and smelling like he has had a run-in with a skunk.
In those cases, it may be worth applying some coconut oil to your soon-to-be fluffy friend and then take them for a heavenly coconut oil infused bath.
After the bath, apply a generous amount of coconut oil to those hard-to reach areas such as wrinkles and ears with Squishface Wrinkle Paste to maintain the fresh smell and reduce bacteria growth!
5. It’s Great to Keep Those Pearly Whites in Check
This is a bit of a side-hustle when it comes to the use of coconut oil.
While some doggy parents will use dental-treats and others will let nature do its thing, here at Squishface we have a little tip for you.
Apply a pea-sized amount of coconut oil to your pup’s rubber toothbrush and gently clean the teeth in circular motions, being sure to get the sides, back and fangs.
The upside is that dogs – like us – love the taste of coconut and coconut oil. So, there shouldn’t be much resistance and they’ll be licking their lips and toys for days.
6. It Works Wonders to Teach an Old Dog New Tricks
It’s never fun to see a family member change with age, especially when it comes to memory loss, dementia, seizures, and loss of autonomy.
That’s why multiple studies have found that the use of coconut oil can help reduce the effects of ageing in dogs. Coconut oils provide the brain with vitality through its ketones, thus promoting stable nerve functions.
It can be supplied through food or through medical intervention. But, be careful of the amount of coconut oil to use too much can lead to a wobbly gut. Visit your vet for a guided dosage!
7. It Will Repel Those Pesky Party Crashers
Unfortunately for some, the lauric acid can be fatal. The ‘some’ we talk about fleas, mites, ticks, and the other unwanted squatters.
Fortunately for others, the lauric acid attacks fleas and can prevent skin diseases such as mange in the process.
All you need to do is simply rub some coconut oil into the coat of your pup before heading out for a walk. So, there’s no need to worry when they inevitably roll around on that sketchy-looking patch of grass or scratch up against a tree.
A good two-in-one remedy for this issue would be the use of Squishface Wrinkle Paste, rubbed into the fur and onto the skin for all-round protection.
8. It Removes Dog Tear Stains
Coconut oil is a fantastic partial natural remedy for dog tear stains. Of course, there’s many reasons why a dog may have these tear stains, so be sure to visit a vet for a prognosis. Or, check out our other blog “Why Does my Dog Have Tear Stains: The Ultimate Doggy Know-How”.
With Squishface Wrinkle Paste or Squishface Tear Stain Paste – both of which use coconut oil as a base – you can combat these unwanted rusty marks.
Simply wipe the area clean with Squishface Wrinkle Wipes then take a pea-sized amount and rub it onto the tear stain. Be sure to rub it into the skin as well as the fur.
9. It Prevents Yeast or Fungal Infections in Wrinkles and Pockets
As a final benefit for the use of coconut oil, furry families are able to rest sound knowing that yeast infections, bacterial infections, viruses and other fungi are kept at bay with the natural properties of the lauric acid.
Brachycephalic dogs are more susceptible to these infections simply because of their wrinkles on their face, body and pooch. Without sounding too gross, the warm, dark and moist areas of a dog’s folds are the perfect breeding ground.
But, this can be combated with use of coconut oil based wrinkle creams such as Squishface Wrinkle Paste.
Much like the use of the dog tear stain pastes, you simply wipe the area clean with a Squishface Wrinkle Wipes (water will repel the paste as it has water-resistant properties, too!). Then, apply a thin layer of paste into the love handles and onto the skin and leave for 24 hours.
This process will need to be done for a period of 7-10 days continuously. Then, any one day where necessary to keep the barrier in-check!
And, there you have it! 9 fantastic reasons why using coconut oil is amazing for your lovable pup (especially when used topically).
Don’t forget to keep checking our website for more awesome tips and tricks as well as new and updates about product releases!
Coconut meat is high in lauric acid, a medium-chain fatty acid. In less scientific terms, this basically means that the body is able to absorb the molecules whole, using them as a direct source of energy. Lauric acid is particularly good at fighting off viruses, such as influenza. It also helps treat yeast infections, ringworm, and Giardia. It also holds some major anti-inflammatory properties — it has greatly reduced swelling in rats during laboratory studies. Reduced inflammation will help speed the healing of cuts, hot spots, and other wounds. Inflammation is also the main cause of arthritis, so feeding coconut to your dog might make his aching joints feel a little better, as the inflammation settles down. Make sure to remove the shell prior to giving your dog coconut, as the shell could become lodged in his esophagus and cause intestinal irritation and possible blockage.
Coconut Oil Negative Side Effects
Although it has more benefits, it may cause some side effects as well. It is believed that commercial coconut oil has side effects and not the virgin one.
Some dogs may be allergic to this product. Giving an excess amount will also lead to diarrhea in dogs. Also, you should not give it to dogs having pancreatitis.
Some studies also report that it may increase total cholesterol levels as well as bad cholesterol levels in dogs. Finally, it may lead to fat deposition in the arteries.
As it is rich in calories, a high amount of this natural product may cause weight gain as well. Another study also reports that saturated fat in coconut reduces the dog’s ability to detect scents.
So, it is better to consult the vet before feeding it to your dog if he is an overweight dog, prone to allergies and has pancreatitis, etc.
Is Coconut Oil Beneficial to Dogs?
Any natural substance with supposed antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties is likely to become popular with people looking for natural remedies. All of the hype makes coconut oil sound like a miracle food. However, it's essential for dog owners to understand that none of these claims are backed up with science. In truth, studies have been largely inconclusive regarding the purported benefits of coconut oil. Additionally, these studies have mainly been done on humans and not animals.
Some people believe that the MCTs found in coconut oil may aid in digestion, heal digestive disorders, and reduce inflammation. It is also possible that MCTs can help with brain energy and cognition in older dogs.
Some owners report that the topical use of coconut oil has improved skin conditions such as hot spots or itchy, dry skin. These owners use over the counter shampoos made with organic coconut oil and recipes for DIY paw balm to not only achieve these results but also to help give their dog a shiny, glossy coat.
Other anecdotal evidence suggests that coconut oil may help with metabolic functions, aid in weight loss, and alleviate pain from arthritis as well as improving bone health.
Remember that anecdotes are not scientifically sound. Before you decide to add coconut oil to your dog's diet or apply it to the skin, be sure to consider potential risks as well. As always, your veterinarian is the best source of information regarding your dog's health. Do not begin using coconut oil on your dog before you consult your vet.