Coconut oil has many benefits when added to a human's diet, but how can it benefit your pets? Added as a gentle supplement to a nutritious diet, coconut oil can be useful for both cats and dogs.
What Is Coconut Oil?
Coconut oil (also called copra oil) is derived from the coconut fruit, and is more than 90 percent saturated fats. It is used not only in cooking, but is found in a wide variety of organic cosmetics and beauty products such as conditioners and moisturizers. Because saturated fats are considered less healthy, its consumption – for humans or pets – should be carefully limited, though there are benefits to having small amounts of coconut oil in a balanced diet.
How Coconut Oil Can Help Pets
There are many potential benefits to feeding coconut oil to your pets, including…
- Improvements in skin and coat, including less severe eczema or other skin conditions, glossier fur, less scratching or itchiness, less sensitivity to skin allergies and minimizing skin odors.
- Improved digestion and nutrient absorption from food, decreasing feces and alleviating constipation. Bad breath may also be reduced.
- Strengthened immunity and resistance to minor illnesses, as well as preventing infections and promoting faster healing of small cuts, scrapes and stings.
- Improved mobility in pets with joint inflammation from arthritis or similar conditions, resulting in better energy and comfort.
- Better management of diabetes or helping with weight loss when used in conjunction with other recommended techniques.
- Cats will be able to pass more fur safely through their intestinal tract, resulting in fewer hairballs and less difficulty regurgitating hairballs.
Many of the benefits coconut oil may offer to pets have not been thoroughly studied, and pet owners should be careful when using this supplement for specific problems.
Be Cautious With Coconut Oil
Adjusting your pet's diet to include any type of supplement – including coconut oil – can be tricky, and a quick change may create digestive troubles such as nausea and diarrhea. Coconut oil can be potent, and a tiny amount – a quarter teaspoon or less – should be used at first, very slowly increasing the amount in the pet's diet to no more than a full teaspoon for smaller pets, or 1-2 tablespoons for larger pets. In addition to use as a dietary supplement, coconut oil may be used directly on the skin or fur for immediate relief, but it is best to use a small, dilute amount of oil for direct applications. Whether it will be used as a dietary supplement or a skin ointment, it is always best to consult a veterinarian before introducing your pet to coconut oil, to be sure you can enjoy the benefits without putting your pet at risk.