by Lori Blauert
If you pay attention to health trends you have probably heard the buzz about the many benefits of coconut oil. But did you know that coconut oil is not only healthy for you but has many health benefits for your pets?
I recently read, Real Food For Healthy Dogs and Cats, by Dr. Karen Becker and she highly recommends using coconut oil in your pet's diet. This got me interested to learn even more about coconut oil so I also read, The Coconut Oil Miracle, by Bruce Fife, C.N, N.D. I’ve started using coconut oil myself every day when cooking, for skin care and most definitely as a dietary supplement for my pets! I’m very excited to share with you the important things I learned about coconut oil and the health benefits for our pets.
What is Coconut Oil?
Coconut oil is a liquid extracted by pressing the “meat” of the coconut, which becomes a white semi-solid substance at or slightly below room temperature and liquefies at 76 degrees F. The “coconut oil” is the most nutritious part of the coconut. Coconut oil is over 90% saturated fat and has antimicrobial, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. It is an excellent source of essential fatty acids. Adding coconut oil to your pet’s diet will boost their immune system and their ability to fight bacterial, viral, and fungal infections. Used topically coconut oil can sooth and heal cracked dry paws and noses. When applied to wounds, skin infections, hot spots, insect bites and warts, coconut oil will promote fast healing and reduce the spread of infection. As if that wasnt enough coconut oils can also help your pet lose weight, rid themselves of parasites, and control diabetes. But before I get into all that, it's important you understand what's in coconut oil that makes it so amazing!
Understanding Saturated Fats & Medium-Chain Triglycerides
Cococut oil is a edible oil high in saturated fat. For years saturated fats have been considered to be unhealthy and doctors recommend limiting saturated fats in your diet. Studies on Pacific Islanders who get 30-60% of their calories from coconut oil found that cardiovascular disease is almost nonexistent and the population is healthy and trim. This is because coconut oil is a medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) saturated fat, which is very different from the long-chain triglycerides (LCTs), which make up about 98% the saturated fats we eat. MCTs are broken down immediately by enzymes in saliva and stomach acid. Pancreatic enzyme secretion is not needed for digestion putting much less strain on the pancreas and digestive system. Since the body can assimilate MCTs so easily, eating coconut oil is an excellent way to get vital nutrients and calories into the body with little strain on the digestive system. MCTs from coconut oil are used in many hospital formulas to feed the young, very sick, and those who suffer from digestive problems. Coconut oil is even used as the main source of fatty acids in baby formula.
The Rare Beauty of Lauric Acid
Coconut oil is an excellent source of lauric acid, which is not readily available in nature. Lauric acid makes up about half of the fatty acid content in coconut oil. The body converts lauric acid into monolaurin, which has anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-protozoa properties. The monolaurin is what makes coconut oil a disease destroyer. In nature lauric acid can only be found in coconut oil, laurel oil, palm kernel oil, human breast milk (6.2% of total fat), cow's milk (2.9%), and goat's milk (3.1%).
Coconut Oil for Skin and Coat
Coconut oil can be applied topically to treat many skin conditions in dogs such as dermatitis from flea allergies and yeast. It speeds healing, disinfects cuts, hydrates dry skin, reduce flaking and it’s antifungal properties will also eliminate yeast. It is also a natural deodorant and will reduce shedding. Coconut oil is naturally a SPF of 4 and can be used as sun protection. The best part about using coconut oil topically on your pet is that it is completely safe. You don’t have to worry about your dog or cat ingesting chemicals when they lick themselves.
Coconut Oil for Digestive Issues
Feeding coconut oil to your pet promotes a healthy balance of organisms in the gut, because of it’s antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties. It improves digestion and absorption of nutrients including vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. It promotes healing of digestive disorders like IBS, dysbiosis and colitis. It can even rid your pet of tapeworms, giardia, and other parasites when fed regularly.
Coconut Oil for Ringworm, Giardia, Tapeworms and other Parasites
When coconut oil is fed to your pet it’s body converts lauric acid to monolaurin, which has been effective in the treatment of tapeworms, giardia and other parasites. The unique thing about treating these gut-dwelling pathogens with monolaurin is that it does not kill the beneficial bacteria that maintain digestive tract health. In one study it was reported that treatment with dried coconut, followed by a laxative, resulted in more than 90% parasite removal after twelve hours. Your pet can easily get tapeworms by simply biting at himself and ingesting a flea. Feeding coconut oil daily will help your pet rid themselves of tapeworms and other harmful parasites naturally without the use of harsh toxic drugs.
Coconut Oil for Fleas, Ticks, Mites and Lice
Coconut oil can be used as an insect repellant for fleas and ticks! The lauric acid in the oils keeps the pests away. Simply rub about a tablespoon of coconut oil in the palm of your hands and apply it to your pet’s back, legs and belly. The oil will make your pets coat soft and shiny while keep pests away. It can also be applied to your pets skin and coat to kill mites and lice.
Coconut Oil for Hairballs in Cats
No matter how often your cat gets hairballs, coconut oil is a completely natural remedy to prevent them. Like most over the counter hairball remedies, coconut oil helps hairballs easily pass through the digestive system. Giving your cat a daily dose of coconut oil will condition the skin and coat to reduce shedding and prevent hairballs. Most cats like the taste of coconut oil and will eat it right off a spoon or in a bowl. If your kitty refuses to eat it dab a little on her paw and she will lick it off. You can also mix it in with their favorite food.
Coconut Oil for Weight Loss
Coconut oil is a fast energy source and will boost your pet’s energy and metabolism. The more energized and active your pet is, the more calories it will burn. In dogs, the MCTs in coconut oil balance the thyroid helping overweight dogs lose weight and helping sedentary dogs feel energetic. Feeding coconut oil with meals will also help your pet feel more full so he will want to eat less helping him reach and maintain a healthy weight.
Summary of Benefits of Coconut Oil
Skin & Coat Benefits
Promotes a healthy skin and coat when fed and when used topically
Treats skin conditions such as dermatitis, flea allergies, and itchy dry skin
Kills yeast and other fungal infections including ring worm and candidaWhen applied to the skin it speeds healing and disinfects cuts, wounds, hot spots, insect bites, dry skin, etc.
Apply coconut oil to your pet’s coat to keep fleas and ticks awayReduces shedding and promotes thicker coats
Rub coconut oil into your pet’s dry flaky skin to moisturize and stop dandruff
Promotes a healthy balance of organisms in the gut, because of it’s antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties.
Improves digestion and absorption of nutrients including vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.
Promotes healing of digestive disorders like IBS, dysbiosis and colitis
Can rid your pet of tapeworms, lice, giardia, and other parasites when fed regularly.
Helps eliminate hairballs in cats.
Metabolic and Other Health Benefits:
Boost your pet’s immune system to help prevent and fight infections and disease.
Improves energy, increases metabolism and promotes a healthy weight
Can reduce bad breath and promote good oral health.
Regulates insulin promoting normal thyroid function.
Prevents and control diabetes.
Choosing a Coconut Oil
Not all coconut oil are created equal. When purchasing coconut oil look for an unrefined virgin or extra virgin coconut oil made from 100% raw coconuts. Purchasing a USDA certified organic coconut oil will ensure that the product doesn’t contain pesticides or other toxins. Read the package and select a product that is not refined. Refined coconut oil is more processed and used mostly for cooking. It lacks the light coconut flavor and aroma that makes it so yummy and appealing to your pet. We currently sell Artisana 100% Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil at IB Pet.
Most dogs and some cats love the taste and will eat it right off a spoon. If your pet is not excited about the taste of coconut oil it can be simply mixed in with food. It is recommended to feed 1 teaspoon of coconut oil for every 10-20 pounds of body weight per day. When first introducing coconut oil to your pets diet, introduce it slowly to see how you pets digestive systems reacts to it. Because coconut oil kills bacteria, viruses, parasites, yeasts, and fungi, your pet may begin to detox as soon as you start feeding it. Detoxing too rapidly can cause lethargy, fatigue and diarrhea as the toxins and other bad stuff leave the body.
Recommended Serving Size: 1 teaspoon per 10-20 pounds per day
Real Food For Healthy Dogs & Cats by Dr. Karen Becker DVM
Becker, K. DVM (2013) Real Food For Healthy Dogs & Cats. USA, First Printing
Fife, B. C.N., N.D. (2013) The Coconut Oil Miracle. New York, NY, Penguin Publishing
Coconut Oil and Medium-Chain Triglycerides by Bruce Fife, N.D. Retrieved from http://www.coconutresearchcenter.org/article10612.htm
Coconut Oil: This Cooking Oil Is a Powerful Virus-Destroyer and Antibiotic by Dr. Mercola. Retrieved from http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/10/22/coconut-oil-and-saturated-fats-can-make-you-healthy.aspx