How Your Dog Benefits From Coconut
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?
Coconut Meat, Fibers, and Oil
There are a lot of web sites 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.
The oil, of course, comes from fresh coconuts. Sometimes the oil is extracted through a dry process, where the meat is removed, 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, I 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 1000 coconuts only produce about 50-75 liters of oil.
The oil has a lot of potential uses and here is used to treat mange or bacterial dermatitis, burns, small cuts, and even viral papillomas on chickens. It is also a great moisturizer, so is used to moisturize the elbow if a callus develops. Some others add it to their dog´s diet, of course.
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 coconut 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 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!
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?
Benefits of Coconut for Dogs
- Coconut meat and fiber
- Coconut oils
- Coconut water
- Coconut soap
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 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.
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.
Coconut only benefits dogs in the tropics
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This is one of the benefits of having coconut around. Dogs love this part.
Questions & Answers
Can the hairy straw on the outside of a coconut hurt my pet if they swallow it?
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.