Dr. Mark is a veterinarian. He has been working with dogs for more than 40 years.
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 fruits 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? We'll cover the benefits of the following:
- Coconut oil
- Coconut meat and fiber
- Coconut water
- Coconut soap
Coconut Meat, Fibers, and Oil
There are a lot of websites 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.
How Coconut Oil Is Extracted
The oil, of course, comes from fresh coconuts. Sometimes the oil is extracted through a dry process, where the meat is removed and 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, in 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 1,000 coconuts only produce about 50–75 liters of oil.
Uses of the Oil
The oil has a lot of potential uses. Here, it's used to treat mange or bacterial dermatitis, burns, small cuts, and even viral papillomas on chickens. It is also a great moisturizer, so it's used to moisturize the elbow if a callus develops. Some others add it to their dog's diet, of course.
What About Fresh Coconut?
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 coconuts 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 they 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!
Other Health Claims
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.?
Read More From Pethelpful
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 it 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 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.
Making a Coconut Soap Substitute
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.
The video above shows one of the benefits of having coconuts around. Dogs love this part.
More About Your Dogs . . .
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This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
Questions & Answers
Question: How much coconut water should be given to a three pound, twelve-year-old dog? Also, can cats drink it?
Answer: It is impossible to give you an exact number because it does depend on if your dog is dehydrated at all. If he is not, a tiny dog like yours can drink about 75 ml of coconut water per day. Cats can drink it too, but be sure to keep fresh water in a separate container since if they do not like the taste they may refuse to drink.
Question: Can the hairy straw on the outside of a coconut hurt my pet if they swallow it?
Answer: 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.
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on July 19, 2017:
Linda, that sounds excellent. Make sure it is all raw, the carrots, etc are put throuh a blender so that the cellulose is broken open and she can et the vitamins and minerals. For the calcium, make sure she eats raw bones too. (My do loves chicken necks.
Linda Ferguson on July 17, 2017:
I want to know more about what can help my little girl live as long as possible! She's almost five but needs more pizzazz! I give her unsweetened coconut and oil and egg shell ground for calcium! She eats the very best I can buy and eats human treats like a bite of apple or pineapple, kiwi, etc. She loves it! Or raw veggies instead of dog treats! Carrots, celery, broccoli, etc.. She loves it all! Now what else can I add?
doni on March 27, 2017:
my dog loves the raw coconut oil. I feed her about a tablespoon 3 times a week. she has a beautiful coat. her bowel movements are like clock work. she suffered from worms,and throwing up bowel. She no longer suffers from any of those. She is my best friend. I drink it in my coffee. my energy and my gut has never felt better. Also able to lose a few pounds!
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on September 27, 2016:
Coconut aminos is just a substitute for soy sauce made out of coconut flowers. It should be okay, but check the label carefully to see if there are any added ingredients. If you have any doubts, do not give to your dog! (You can leave me a message or just google the unusual ingredient and see if there are any health warnings out there for dogs. Remember, if you have any doubts do not give it!)
A on September 27, 2016:
Can dogs have coconut aminos?
Candy on November 14, 2015:
I just sat down a small dish with coconut water for my pit bull from some I had opened up for myself. it was probably about 1/3c. She lapped it up eagerly. She is not much of a water drinker. After I she drank it I had a second thought and wondered if I had done the wrong thing. She does get coconut oil for her skin issue but I just had an "oh crap" moment. I was so glad to find out that coconut in all forms is good. He diet is very restricted due to skin issues so I am going to go buy so unsweetened flaked coconut as a treat for her.
montana moore on November 02, 2015:
My puppy milo has a lot of those problems I will most deff. Take this into consideration... After all I love my boy
Eiddwen from Wales on January 14, 2014:
Interesting and very useful.
Stephanie from Texas on January 12, 2014:
This is a very interesting hub! I know the benefits of coconut for humans and use it religiously, but I never thought to apply this to my dogs life. Thanks so much for sharing.
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on January 12, 2014:
Blond Logic, I am the same way. The dogs know they have to wait for me to collect the water first, and then they can have the fresh coconut. One of my neighbors even has a dog that will shred the husks and break open the coconuts himself. My dogs are too lazy for that!
Bob, send a few of those, okay? I promise to let my dogs have them. (You mean your feed store didn't sell machetés? How does one live without a macheté in the house?)
Rebecca--thanks for the comment on the photo, I think she acts up when I pull the camera out. You should see her playing dead!
Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on January 12, 2014:
This is awesome information. Never heard of it, (coconut products for dogs) and very glad to learn. The intro photo is hilarious.
Bob Bamberg on January 12, 2014:
Here in the colonies, we like to shred the coconut, mold it into a bar, put a couple of almonds on it and pour milk chocolate over it. It would be hard to find a more nutritious food...the benefits of coconut oil and flesh, protein from the nuts, and the benefit of the cocoa bean. Nice try, huh?
Interesting hub. This time of year, dry skin is a problem for me, so I'm going to try some coconut to see if it helps. Is there an easy way to shuck a coconut when one is all out of machetes? Voted up, useful and interesting.
Mary Wickison from Brazil on January 12, 2014:
Hi Dr. Mark,
One of our dogs loves coconuts. The coconut water, I drink and then machete it open for the dog. I also use the coconut soap you mentioned on him, as all other dog shampoos, affect him badly.