People use coconut oil for cooking, cleaning, health, beauty, and self-care. The oil works well as a moisturizer, and various studies tout different ways coconut oil could help improve health factors. But this versatile powerhouse isn’t just for humans. Coconut oil has benefits for dogs and cats, too.
What Exactly Is Coconut Oil?
Coconut oil comes from pressing the fresh or dried meat of coconuts. The interesting thing about this 100%-fat, plant-based oil is how it changes depending on its temperature.
When coconut oil is cold or at room temperature, it’s firmer and more solid. However, when warm, it becomes a liquid. Therefore, depending on its state, you can use coconut oil in various applications.
7 Ways Coconut Oil Helps Pets
Something important to remember is that simply because something could be good for your pet doesn’t mean you need to give it to your pet. It’s especially wise to avoid giving your dog or cat coconut oil or any type of home remedy in large quantities unless your veterinarian instructs you to.
If your pet deals with specific issues, like cracked paw pads or a dull coat, a little coconut oil could help. Sometimes, coconut oil may even help address some side effects from health issues. However, before you give your pet coconut oil, speak with your vet. Find out if giving your pup or cat coconut oil makes sense since every pet has different needs.
Here are some of the ways coconut oil could benefit pets.
1. Coconut Oil Can Soothe Cracked Paw Pads
One of the most well-known uses of coconut oil is as a moisturizer. Use coconut oil to moisturize dry paw pads. Soften the oil by rubbing it between your hands and applying it to your dog or cat’s paws.
Coconut oil isn’t toxic, so if your pet licks it, you don’t need to worry. However, if your pet licks it all off, their paws won’t get any relief. Consider putting socks or booties on your pet’s feet after applying the oil. This provides the added benefit of keeping the greasy oil off of your floors and furniture.
2. Use Coconut Oil to Disinfect Small Wounds
Coconut oil possesses some antifungal, antiviral, and antibacterial properties that suggest it can help treat minor infections and clean small wounds. However, before applying coconut oil, whether for an ear infection, small cut, or other issue, talk to your vet.
Depending on the severity of the wound or infection, your pet could need antibiotics or other treatment. Your vet may or may not suggest coconut oil in addition to these treatments as a way to give your pet some soothing relief.
3. Coconut Oil Can Improve Your Pet’s Skin and Coat
Coconut oil contains fatty acids and Vitamin E. Adding a few drops of oil to your dog or cat’s shampoo can add extra shine to your pet’s coat.
Coconut oil could also help soothe your pet’s dry skin just as it works to soothe dry paw pads. Simply rub it between your hands to soften it and gently work it into your pet’s skin.
But coconut oil isn’t a cure-all for all of your pet’s skin problems. For example, although some pet owners use coconut oil to soothe hot spots, this is not always the best option. In many cases, coconut oil won’t help with hot spots and could even make them worse. This is why consulting with your vet first is so critical.
4. Repel Fleas, Ticks, and Insects with Coconut Oil
Use coconut oil as a natural insect repellent to ward off flies, ticks, and other pesky bugs. The oil can also fend off lice, mites, and fleas. For the best flea and tick prevention, we recommend combining this with a regular over-the-counter or prescription flea medication. But coconut oil can help add additional protection.
Some studies suggest that lauric acid in coconut oil could help prevent intestinal parasites. However, do not use coconut oil as a substitute for regular heartworm prevention.
5. Use Coconut Oil to Keep Your Pet’s Teeth Clean
Your pet’s dental care plays a significant role in their overall health. Taking care of their teeth and gums should be at the top of your pet-care priority list.
The same qualities in coconut oil that make it good at disinfecting small wounds also make it a contender for dental care. Brushing your pet’s teeth with a bit of coconut oil could improve bad breath and reduce tartar buildup.
6. Potential Immune and Gut Health Benefits of Coconut Oil
Giving your dog or cat coconut oil orally could help reduce infections. The Omega 6 and Omega 9 fatty acids in coconut oil may support your pet’s immune system. Coconut oil could also help your dog or cat with digestion and absorption of essential nutrients.
Some pets have no problem eating coconut oil as-is. But if your pet’s a picky eater, there are liquid supplements with coconut oil. Some of these supplements are in pill form, but the easier ones come as food toppers. All you need to do is add it to your pet’s food dish on top of their food. Or mix it into wet food and spread it onto a treat mat to make it fun for your pet to eat.
These supplements are meant to help pets live healthier lives. However, the effectiveness of coconut oil for these issues still requires a lot more study in the world of pets. Therefore, if your pet struggles with specific issues, talk it over with your vet, and don’t rely on coconut oil by itself to fix your pet’s problems.
7. Coconut Oil Might Give Metabolism a Boost
Coconut oil could also help your pet maintain a healthy weight. It gives your pet’s metabolism a boost, helping your pet stay active.
Can You Give Your Pet Too Much Coconut Oil?
You can always get too much of a good thing. And when it comes to coconut oil, there still needs to be a lot more research into how effective it is at helping pets with various problems.
Applying coconut oil to your pet’s skin might help soothe dryness and itchiness. However, use too much and the greasy substance can end up on your furniture, carpet, and clothing. Also, the high-fat content of coconut oil could lead to problems if your dog or cat ingests too much of it. Issues include things like pancreatitis, diarrhea, allergies, and other health issues.
Sure, coconut oil could make some things better. But is it necessary if you end up needing other treatment, like antibiotics or more thorough healthcare? That’s why your vet needs to be a part of the conversation.
How Much Coconut Oil Should You Give Your Pet?
For dogs, the general rule is to give them no more than 1 teaspoon per 10 pounds of body weight. When first starting to give them coconut oil, start with less and work up to a teaspoon if needed. Giving them too much too soon could increase the odds of your dog having runny stools.
For cats, start with about an ⅛ of a teaspoon and work up to ¼ or ½ a teaspoon over time. If your cat is smaller than average, use less. For larger cats, you may need more. But start small and see how your cat reacts to the amount.
The Many Benefits of Coconut Oil
Coconut oil certainly has benefits, but its effectiveness on pets is debatable since much research is still needed. However, coconut oil can help soothe cracked paw pads, ease dry and itchy skin, and add shine to your pet’s coat.
Your pet depends on you to do what’s best for them, and nothing should ever replace professional veterinarian care. However, a few tips to help keep your pet comfortable are always good to have in your pocket. For more resources on caring for your pet, check out the rest of the Neater Pets blog.