Coconut Oil For Dogs: Is It A Safe All-Natural Alternative?

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A dog with coconut oil.

Coconut oil is all the rage these days as an all-natural remedy and dietary supplement for humans. And pet products, both oral and topical, that contain coconut oil are popping up everywhere too. What are the purported benefits of using coconut oil for your dog’s ailments? And is it really safe?

What Is Coconut Oil?

Coconut oil comes from the meat found inside of coconuts. Coconut meat contains lots of healthy fats and is used to make the oil. Oil is made from either dry or fresh coconut meat. The oil consists of high levels of saturated fats, most of which are Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs).

MCTs are a type of fat that some researchers believe your body metabolizes faster than the saturated fats we’re used to thinking of as unhealthy, like those in butter and steak. And it’s these MCTs that are believed to have certain health benefits.

Health Benefits

Is coconut oil good for dogs? The answer is both yes and no. First, we’ll run through the potential benefits of coconut oil for dogs, but be aware that not all veterinarians and animal experts agree on these claims.

  • Lauric acid, found in MCTs, has antibacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral properties
  • Capric acid and caprylic acid (also found in MCTs) are known for their anti-fungal effects
  • Potential benefits of MCTs taken orally:
    • Improves brain energy
    • Improves cognitive function in older dogs
    • Aids in digestion and helps heal digestive disorders
    • Helps with weight loss
    • Relieves joint pain and arthritis
    • Reduces the severity and number of seizures
    • Improves metabolic function
  • Potential benefits of topical use:

Most of these benefits are based on small research studies, primarily conducted in humans. There’s some controversy among veterinarians that some of these claims are unfounded when it comes to coconut oil for dogs.

Is Coconut Oil Safe For Dogs?

Even with multiple health benefits, are there any potential health concerns by giving your dog coconut oil? It’s generally considered safe as a topical application (balms and shampoos), but some experts recommend using caution with oral use.

Since coconut oil is high in fat and fatty acids, there are concerns that it may cause complications in dogs with certain health conditions (heart issues, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc.). Its regular use could also contribute to weight gain and obesity. And the ASPCA warns that it may cause stomach upset, loose stools, or diarrhea.

Some dogs may have an allergic reaction to coconut oil, which can cause itching and an upset stomach. Allergic reaction symptoms also include body swelling, redness on the skin, vomiting, diarrhea, and low energy.

For these reasons, we urge you to consult with your veterinarian before giving your dog coconut oil orally. It’s always a good idea to check with your vet before treating your dog with any oral supplement.

What The Vet Says About Giving Dogs Coconut Oil

We asked Dr. Rebecca MacMillan BVetMed BSAVA PGCertSAM MRCVS about dogs having coconut oil.

“Coconut oil can be used safely in dogs, but as with any supplement, you should use it sensibly and ideally after a discussion with your vet. It tends to be most effective when used as a topical treatment for mild skin complaints. The key thing to be aware of is that it is not the cure-all product that many websites claim it is. While it may have some health benefits, it should not take the place of any medications your vet has prescribed for your dog,” Dr. Rebecca MacMillan.

Dr. MacMillan adds, “In my experience, one of the main risks is when an owner chooses to use coconut oil before speaking to their vet. This leads to a delay in some animals getting the proper treatment needed for their ailments (i.e., antibiotics, medicated shampoos, or allergy drugs). This can lead to conditions worsening, costing both you and your pet more in the long run. You should always get your dog assessed first before deciding to use any supplement.”

Regarding giving your dog coconut oil, here’s what Dr. MacMillan says, “You must also be careful if you plan on giving coconut oil to your dog orally. Due to its high fat content, it could trigger an upset stomach or even a serious episode of pancreatitis in some susceptible animals. Regular use in healthy dogs could also lead to unwanted weight gain and increased cholesterol due to the extra calories in their diet. There is also a slightly obscure risk of your dog’s sense of smell being reduced when using coconut oil, which could be an issue for working breeds of dogs. More research might be needed into this, though.”

How Do I Use Coconut Oil With My Dog?

If you’ve decided to give your dog coconut oil orally, be sure to start out slowly with a minimal amount. When given in larger doses, too much coconut oil can cause diarrhea and greasy stools. And again, consult your vet about dosage. Your vet knows your dog’s medical history and can give you specific instructions on how much and how often to administer it.

To use coconut oil for dry dog skin, apply a small amount topically to your dog’s affected area and let it absorb for about 5 minutes. Try to keep your dog from licking it off and ingesting it. After 5 minutes, rinse it off. If he feels greasy, you may want to lightly shampoo the area and rinse. You can also use a shampoo with organic coconut oil to help with more widespread coverage.

Best Coconut Oil For Dogs

Here are some of our favorite, vet-recommended coconut oil pet products. When choosing a pure oil, you want to get unrefined, also called virgin coconut oil. Virgin oil is made from fresh coconut meat, and refined oil uses dried meat, called copra. Cold-pressed coconut oil is ideal.

Raw Paws Organic Coconut Oil Review

Raw Paws organic coconut oil.

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All-natural Raw Paws coconut oil is sourced from organically grown coconuts. It’s cold-pressed, unrefined, and chemical and bleach-free, so it’s non-toxic for your furry friends. You can use it as a topical balm or a dietary supplement for dogs and cats. Raw Paws has a 100% satisfaction guarantee, and the small, family-owned company donates to animal charities.


HempMy Pet Hemp-Infused Coconut Oil Review

HempMy Pet Hemp-Infused Coconut Oil.

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If you want the health benefits of both coconut oil and Cannabidiol (CBD), HempMy Pet has a high-quality formula that’s made specifically for pets. This all-natural oil contains only two ingredients: certified organic coconut oil and a full-spectrum hemp extract, which is rich in CBD, CBG, CBC, Terpenes, and other Cannabinoids.

How can CBD help your dog? CBD’s health benefits include relieving anxiety, moderate to severe pain, chronic inflammation, arthritis, joint pain, digestion problems, and more. You can use HempMy Pet’s hemp-infused coconut oil both orally or topically.


  • $39.00 for 100mg hemp-infused coconut oil (5 fl. oz. jar)
  • $99.99 for 500mg hemp-infused coconut oil (5 fl. oz. jar)

Learn more about CBD for dogs

4Legger Organic Dog Shampoo Review

4Legger Organic Dog Shampoo.

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This 4Legger dog shampoo is a great option for dogs with dry, itchy skin. This all-natural, USDA-certified organic and hypoallergenic formula contains organic coconut oil, aloe vera juice, and several other essential organic oils, including olive oil, lemongrass, jojoba, and rosemary. In addition to soothing skin, it can also serve as an all-natural flea deterrent and can keep your dog’s coat healthy and glossy.


How To Treat Your Dog’s Skin With Coconut Oil

This video from Dr. Karen Becker, a proactive and integrative wellness veterinarian, gives you more information about how coconut oil can benefit your dog’s skin. She also shows you how to apply coconut oil to your dog.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the top questions our readers ask about coconut oil for dogs. If we didn’t get to yours, let us know in the comments.

Does Coconut Oil Help Dog Ear Infections?

While you can find a lot of online tutorials about using coconut oil for dogs’ ear infections, we don’t advise it. Ear infections are painful and can lead to complications if not treated with vet-recommended medications. You also want to be sure your vet confirms a diagnosis rather than self-diagnosing your pup.

If your vet okays it, you could use coconut oil to help ease the itchiness associated with ear infections, but there’s no scientific evidence that it will clear up the infection itself.

Can You Use Coconut Oil For Dog Constipation?

Since larger amounts of coconut oil can cause runny stools and diarrhea, it would make sense that it could clear up a mild bout of dog constipation. However, if your dog is severely constipated (2 or more days without a bowel movement) or his constipation is a recurring issue, it’s time to seek veterinarian care. There could be a serious underlying condition causing your dog’s constipation.

Coconut oil for dog constipation is not the best home remedy option and could result in a very messy situation. It’s best you check with your vet first to avoid causing your pup any more discomfort.

Can You Use Coconut Oil For Dog Allergies?

Applying coconut oil topically can help ease your dog’s itchy and red skin that results from allergies. But there’s no evidence that taking it orally is an effective treatment for dog allergies.

If you suspect your dog has allergies, consult your veterinarian. Your vet can help you develop a plan to determine the cause and hopefully eliminate the allergen from his diet or environment.

Does Coconut Oil Help With Dog Shedding?

You can find a lot of home remedy advice online about using coconut oil for dog shedding. Many say taking it orally can help reduce excessive shedding. But we’ve found no scientific evidence that this actually works.

Is Coconut Oil Good For Dogs’ Teeth?

You can find anecdotal advice online that using coconut oil for dogs’ teeth is beneficial. The theory is that the lauric acid in coconut oil helps fight plaque buildup and helps with bad breath. But again, we’ve found no scientific evidence to back up these claims.

Coconut Oil Compared To Other Natural Remedies For Dogs

Coconut oil is safe in small amounts and specific topical applications, but it is not the only natural remedy owners have. Many other oils are better for oral use.

  • Flaxseed oil has both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and can be used to help with inflammation and allergies. Flaxseed oil is sometimes used as a joint supplement for dogs with arthritis. Coconut oil is higher in saturated fats than flaxseed oil, though it has higher lauric acid, an MCT with anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.
  • Salmon oil offers omega-3 fatty acids like coconut oil but is a better alternative for dogs and is safe for them to have orally. Salmon oil supports healthy skin and coats and can improve mobility, metabolism, a healthy immune system, and cognitive function, among other things.
  • Hemp seed oil is a natural alternative to help with inflammation. It is safe to take orally and use topically on your dog. Hemp seed oil is full of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. It also has anti-inflammatory properties and may aid in digestion. Hemp seed oil can also be applied to the coat and skin daily to help with odor and promote healthy skin and coat.

CBD Oil For Dogs: Another All-Natural Alternative

If you or your vet don’t think coconut oil is a good option for your dog but you still want an all-natural remedy, you may want to consider CBD oil or CBD treats for dogs. Many pet parents rave about how much CBD helps their dogs, and there’s been more scientific research that shows CBD as a safe and effective alternative. Again, discuss this option with your vet before treating him on your own.

Why Trust Canine Journal?

Over the last 10 years, Sally has researched and reviewed hundreds of different health supplements and products for dogs. She’s an expert at analyzing these based on current scientific studies for the most beneficial ingredients for our pups — and whether they’re effective for pups or not. She’s part of a team of dog specialists at Canine Journal who have over a decade of experience in researching, testing, and writing about everything you need to know to keep your pup healthy and happy.

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The information provided through this website should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease; it is not intended to offer any legal opinion or advice or a substitute for professional safety advice or professional care. Please consult your health care provider, attorney, or product manual for professional advice. Products and services reviewed are provided by third parties; we are not responsible in any way for them, nor do we guarantee their functionality, utility, safety, or reliability. Our content is for educational purposes only.

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