Coconut oil has been on the spotlight for a while, with common belief saying it is almost miraculous. It supposedly cures plenty of dog and cat health conditions… But is that really true? Is it safe to use coconut oil for dogs and cats, or not?
Contrary to human medicine experts, the veterinary community still lacks scientific evidence to reach trustful conclusions. The best approach is to get as much information from reliable sources as possible, and elaborate an opinion based on it. Following the herd is not always the best idea!
What is coconut oil?
Coconut oil is all about fat. Around 90% is saturated fat, also known as “good fat”, comprising a high amount of Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs). The oil comes from the raw coconut meat and it is believed it provides a bunch of benefits linked to its high content in MCTs.
Let’s get acquainted with MCTs
MCTs components have quite a few already known health benefits, from which coconut oil gets its glory. Let’s break this fat into pieces and unravel some secrets:
- Lauric acid is the major constituent and has anti-inflammatory, antifungal and antibacterial properties;
- Capric acid and caprylic acid also have antifungal properties;
- Myristic and palmitic acid are also present but in lower amounts with no particular role on the equation.
Coconut oil benefits deconstructed
The different ingredients in coconut oil have properties that, in the proper amount, might boost the body’s health. But the main question related to its effectiveness lies precisely on this detail: the proper amount. In fact, it is still unknown whether coconut oil meets those minimum requirements. Nevertheless, understanding how it might work provides us the tools to form an opinion about the subject.
So coconut oil might…:
- …help with digestion and weight loss. It is a source of readily available energy, as it is promptly absorbed in the stomach and used by the liver, promoting fat burning and not storage.
- …be useful in malabsorption conditions like inflammatory bowel disease It is a direct source of fat, enhances nutrient absorption in the stomach and has anti-inflammatory properties.
- …reduce coughing due to its anti-inflammatory effect.
- …help eliminate hairballs because it improves the coat quality and lowers shedding. That is why the pet’s fur may look glossy and sleek.
- …help skin conditions like hot spots, bites, stings, itchiness or dry skin. Lauric acid, the main fatty acid in coconut oil, has a unique chemical makeup that allows it to easily penetrate hair shafts.
- …boost the immune system.
So until now, everything indicates that coconut oil can actually do wonders and might be a strong ally in achieving a healthy lifestyle. However…
The other side of the coin
While coconut oil has properties that might be helpful in treating a wide variety of medical conditions, it is not the cure-all some believe it is.
- Instead of helping with weight loss, it can contribute for your pet to put on some extra pounds if overly consumed. Every fat, even the healthiest one, apports a great amount of energy and calories so moderation and caution is important.
- It might increase cholesterol levels, leaving room for fatty plaques to pile up in the arteries, and compromising the blood circulatory system.
- It does not provide all the required essential fatty acids.
- The acids in MCTs do not have enough omega-3 and omega-6.
- It may lead to allergic skin reactions when used topically, or diarrhea when ingested.
- As mentioned above, scientific research supports that MCTs protect against bacteria, viruses and fungi. Nevertheless, there is no clear evidence that coconut oil can be used in great enough quantities to offer our pet’s much protection.
Coconut oil for dogs and cats – the bottom line
So, what’s the conclusion? Is it beneficial to use coconut oil for dogs and cats? Well, it’s mainly about weighing the pros and cons, and acknowledging that research is still missing. There have been no reliable studies proving that coconut oil aids conditions like thyroid dysfunction, obesity, gum and teeth diseases or cancer prevention.
If you are thinking about adding coconut oil to your best friend’s diet or applying it to their skin, we strongly suggest that you consult the Findster Care vet team or your own vet in advance. There is no need to ban this supplement from the equation, but every pet is different. Assessing each case independently is definitely the healthiest, safest and most effective approach to improve wellbeing.
Does your pup cry when you leave the house? Do you find “parcels” in the passage? Is he possessive? Here are some common dog behaviors and solutions!