How to Make Virgin Coconut Oil for Your Dog
Coconut oil can improve your dog's life. When correctly made, coconut oil contains several antioxidants (like vitamins K and E) and fatty acids like lauric, caprylic, palmitic, myristic, and caproic acid. It also contains about 2% linoleic acid and about 6% oleic acid. These components can improve the quality of your dog's skin and sometimes are used to combat specific conditions.
There have been a lot of claims in human and animal health about the benefits of these fatty acids and antioxidants. I do not know that all of them are true since a lot more research needs to be done, but I have seen many benefits when coconut oil is used for some of the skin conditions that affect dogs.
Skin conditions that will benefit from virgin coconut oil:
- Yeast infection
- Mild skin infection (reduce itching)
- Dry skin
- Hot spot (traumatic bacterial dermatitis)
- Swollen feet secondary to interdigital yeast infection
- Elbow callus before it has progressed to a hygroma
- Ear margin seborrhea
Which Brand of Coconut Oil Is Best for Your Dog?
Not all coconut oil will help your dog's skin condition. Is there a brand of coconut oil available at the store that is what you need? I have been asked to recommend the best brand of coconut oil to apply to your dog, but I cannot do that. Most of the oil sold in stores is produced by heating the coconut, even when it claims to be “virgin.” Why is that so bad?
Producing coconut oil by heat destroys the antioxidants (vitamins E and K) that are partially responsible for improving your dog's skin. It may also destroy some components that we are not even aware of.
Even the websites that claim they will tell you how to produce virgin coconut oil will explain how you can do so using the heat method. I even found a website on how to produce extra virgin coconut oil, and all that they do is explain how to use the heat method.
What about those brands that claim they are organic and produced without heat? Even when it says it is cold processed I have my doubts, as many of these coconut oils sold in stores stay liquid even at cool temperatures.
The best alternative to a brand, of course, is to produce your own coconut oil.
1. Split the Coconuts
Select large and mature coconuts that have brown husks. When it is time to break open your coconut, you can do this however you want. I prefer to use a machete, but many sites will tell you to use an electric drill so that you can collect the water. (There is no point in drilling the coconuts and saving the water from a mature coconut since the coconut water that we consume is harvested from green coconuts. If you drill the coconuts and save the water it will just be thrown away later.)
2. Remove the Coconut Meat
I use a knife with a broken tip to remove the pieces of coconut from the shell after it is open. I then wash the coconut at this point, but do not worry about the brown part of the flesh that is attached to the back of the meat.
At this point the pieces need to be chopped up small enough to be shredded in a food processor.
3. Blend the Coconut and Let It Age
After the coconut is shredded, I put it in the blender with water and make a thick slurry. (I have tried producing coconut oil with only the food processor and only the blender, but find that a combination of the two works best. If you only have a blender, remember that the finer you shred your coconut the more oil will be produced.)
After I have shredded and blended the coconut I usually let it sit for about 2 or 3 hours. Aging the chopped coconut allows more of the oil to be released from the meat. (This step is not absolutely necessary, but if you do not allow the coconut to age the amount of oil you produce will be significantly less.)
4. Mash the Coconut and Let It Age Again
Some oil producers will do this by hand, but I have found that it is a little more efficient to crush the remaining coconut with a potato masher. If you do not have one, a ladle works fine.
After crushing it as much as possible, leave the coconut out for another hour or two.
5. Filter the Coconut Milk
The coconut and water mixture is put through a cheesecloth to remove the coconut. As it is strained, you need to grab the cloth and squeeze it so that all of the water is saved and the remaining coconut is totally dry. (Dogs enjoy the taste of this spread on their food, it makes good chicken feed, or you can even bake with it if you live in an urban setting.)
You can collect your coconut milk in a large jar and leave it that way, but I have found that it is easier to collect when it is formed in a large pan. It needs to sit in a refrigerator for at least a day.
6. Remove the Coconut Oil
Coconut oil hardens up at about 76 degrees F, so when you pull the container out of your refrigerator after one day, the oil will be hard; the coconut milk will not. Many websites, including a well-known site with videos and a famous “how to” site will tell you to remove the oil, throw it away, and utilize the coconut milk. This is not correct.
What you need to do is remove the coconut oil in its hardened state from the top of the container. The “milk” will be at the bottom. (It is mostly water, but it does have some coconut flavor, so I pour it on top of my dog's food. They enjoy it.)
If you want pure coconut oil without any of the solids, you can add another step and filter this final product through a coffee filter. It needs to be warm enough (over 76 degrees) for the oil to melt and fall to the bottom of your collection container. This last step is optional since the coconut oil with a little of the coconut solids is still fine for your dog's skin.
The biggest disadvantage of producing oil by the cold method is that not much is produced. If I use two large coconuts, I am happy to end up with 200 grams, but it usually is only half of that. Producing coconut oil by the heat method will produce more, so if you are just using the oil for cooking, and are not interested in the potential health benefits, that method is acceptable.
Can You Improve Coconut Oil? How Can It Be Used?
You can split your coconut oil in two containers. Your first container of coconut oil can be modified with sulfur, available as . (This is the product that I have used in the past.) Sulfur helps with many skin conditions, and all you need to do is add about 2 heaping tablespoons to the container of coconut oil that you have produced. The coconut and sulfur mixture is antifungal, so if you have a skin problem that is hard to treat with other medications, this may be just what you are looking for. flowers of sulphur
According to the National Pesticide Information Center, there is no danger in ingesting sulfur if it is not in a dust form, so do not worry if your dog licks some of it off. It does tend to stain the rugs, however, so when you apply it to your dog you will want to leave him outside until it is absorbed and rubbed off.
The second container should contain additional vitamin E, a potent antioxidant that is used in many skin conditions. Pierce one of the capsules and add about 1000 iu to the coconut oil. You can use this coconut oil mixture to moisturize your dog's skin in elbow calluses, ear tips, and any other dry areas. This dose is not high, and if your dog licks the coconut oil off of his skin, you do not need to be concerned.
Since the vitamin E mixture is a lot less likely to stain your rugs, if you are not sure of what is causing your dogs skin disease it would be a good idea to use the sulfur/coconut oil mixture in the daytime and the vitamin E/coconut oil mixture at night.
How Long Will My Coconut Oil Last?
Homemade coconut oil will last for about 6 months but your dog will probably use it a lot sooner than that. Even after mixing with vitamin E and sulfur, I recommend that you keep it refrigerated. It melts quickly when applied to your dog's skin so does not need to be “thawed” before use.
References and Links
- International Journal of Molecular Science, 2018 Jan; 19(1): 70. Anti-Inflammatory and Skin Barrier Repair Effects of Topical Application of Some Plant Oils, Tzu-Kai Lin et al. <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5796020/>.
- Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 2019 Feb;38(2):97-107 Health Effects of Coconut Oil-A Narrative Review of Current Evidence. Wallace TC <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30395784>.
- National pesticide information center, Sulfur: General Fact Sheet. <http://npic.orst.edu/factsheets/sulfurgen.html>.
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.