Coconut products have been the trend in human diets for years.
In fact, some athletes have turned to natural coconut water as a way to rehydrate and restore electrolyte balance.
This is because coconut water has the same balance of electrolytes as commercial sports drinks.
Health benefits can actually be found in the whole coconut including the water, meat and coconut shell (husk).
Pet owners shopping for limited ingredient diets might want to include coconut products. The water is great for hydration while providing beneficial vitamins and minerals.
All good things, however, must have a balance. The whole coconut is loaded with nutrition, but the coconut water is also a natural diuretic.
In other words, too much of it may cause your dog to urinate more frequently, leaving him/her dehydrated, which is the opposite of your intent. It’s always best to use coconut sparingly, as an occasional treat or as a refreshing drink.
Keep reading for important information on:
- Green coconuts vs mature coconuts
- Health benefits of coconuts for dogs
- Health benefits of coconut water, coconut milk, and coconut oil
- When not to give different coconut products (including water) to your dog
- Creative ways to incorporate coconut water into your dog’s diet
- Health benefits for dogs
- Risk factors of Coconut Oil
Green Coconuts vs Mature Coconuts
Green and brown coconuts are both the same. They both come from the coconut palm tree.
The difference is in the age (or ripeness) of the coconut. As coconuts mature, they change color from bright green to brown.
Green Coconut Facts
Green coconuts contain more coconut water because they are young. Coconuts that are between 8 and 10 months old are perfect for their sweet water source and jelly-like meat.
Mature Coconut Facts
As coconuts mature, the coconut meat takes up more space until eventually there no coconut water left.
This occurs at 11 to 12 months of age. At this point, the coconut is low in water and high in fat.
Whether young or mature, coconuts are packed with vital electrolytes and micronutrients.
In humans, coconut water may help with metabolic syndrome. People or pets with this syndrome suffer from:
- high blood pressure
- high blood sugar
- high triglyceride
- high LDL cholesterol levels.
Unfortunately, people with metabolic syndrome also have low HDL cholesterol (the “good” kind).
Dissecting the Health Benefits of Coconuts for Dogs
Is coconut water safe for dogs? The short answer is yes. However, to be on the safe side, it’s always a good idea to approach with caution.
Coconuts are healthy, but they’re not a miracle product. In moderate amounts, coconuts make a great snack for people and pets.
Although there are no comprehensive studies to prove it, it’s thought that coconut water may offer the same benefits to pets as it does for people.
There’s no denying the nutritional value of coconuts. While it shouldn’t completely substitute fresh water, it can certainly play a role in your dog’s overall diet.
DID YOU KNOW? The nutritional composition of coconuts change as the fruit matures.
Every part of the coconut has health benefits; however, you probably don’t want to feed your dog the tough husk or outer shell.
It’s unlikely your dog would be tempted to eat that part anyway.
The following are some of the top nutritional boosts that make up coconut meat, water, etc milk, and oil:
Coconut meat is the white flesh found inside the shell. Bakers are familiar with shredded coconut (sometimes with added sugar) used in a variety of recipes.
Coconut meat, in its natural form, is safe for dogs to eat. Bagged coconut found in the baking aisle of the grocery store may have added sugars, colors, or or artificial flavors added.
Coconut meat is rich in nutrients including:
Feeding your dog a diet high in coconut meat isn’t advisable. However, small chunks could be broken up and put in a plastic bag to be used as dog treats.
TIP: Keep the pieces small enough to avoid choking hazards, especially in small dog breeds.
Coconut water is the clear liquid found in young green coconuts. It will not hurt your dog in small amounts, but it’s no better than regular, fresh water for hydration.
Did you know that coconut water has a sugar/electrolyte balance that is similar to commercial oral rehydration drinks?
Be careful if purchasing coconut water for your dog as it may contain added ingredients including artificial flavors, sugar, or coloring.
Coconut water is rich in nutrients including:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin B-6
Coconut milk (or juice) is made by combining coconut water and grated coconut meat. The combination is mixed together, heated, and then strained. The result is coconut milk.
While considered safe for dogs, you should check the ingredients list if purchasing a commercial product.
Coconut milk should consist of nothing but natural ingredients. Beware of added sugars, flavors, or additives. Coconut milk can be used as an occasional tasty treat, but should not replace good old plain water.
The big difference between coconut milk and coconut water is the high-fat content. Although not as high-fat as pure coconut meat, the milk does have more fat and more calories.
A little is okay but too much could be a bad thing, particularly for dogs prone to weight gain.
Potential Health Benefits of Coconut Oil
Coconut oil consists of approximately 90% saturated fats, most of which are Medium Chain Triglycerides. These are actually “good” fats with several health benefits. Some of the potential benefits for dogs include:
Anti-Inflammatory. Anti-fungal. Antibacterial.
The anti-inflammatory effects of coconut oil come from lauric acid. In people, lauric acid is used for treating viral infections including the flu, colds, cold sores, fever blisters, and genital herpes caused by herpes simplex virus (HSV).
Firm Loose Stools
Coconut meat contains fiber which may help to firm up loose stool in dogs.
Post Surgery Boost
The nutritional value of coconut water or coconut milk may help boost a dog’s immune system and provide faster healing post-surgery.
Restore Electrolyte Balance
Coconut water can be used in small amounts to help keep dogs hydrated while exercising or in hot weather. Ultimately, fresh water is the best choice for optimal hydration and health in dogs.
Coconut water has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidant effects in people. Coconut oil, which contains about 50 percent lauric acid, is an edible, non-toxic oil used around the world.
May Help Digestive Disorders
It’s thought that MCT’s (medium-chain triglycerides) could help with digestive disorders in dogs. It may even improve brain energy and mental function in senior dogs.
Coconut oil is used to help skin conditions including:
- Itchy skin
- Dry skin
- Hot spots
- Reduce allergens
Applying a small amount of coconut oil to a dog’s fur will leave it looking shiny and sleek.
Bone & Metabolic Health
Coconut oil is also thought to aid in metabolic function, weight loss, and bone health.
Are Coconut Products the Cure-All for Dogs?
Unfortunately, there are few (if any) credible studies that prove any of the health claims related to coconut water or coconut meat.
As long as your dog doesn’t have an allergic reaction, coconuts are considered safe for dogs. However, when it comes to the treatment of disease in dogs, a licensed veterinarian is always your best bet.
Ultimately, any nutritional benefit found in coconuts may be helpful, but may not be enough to help a dog with certain health conditions.
It’s important never to try and diagnose your pet. The appearance of hot spots or hives could be something as simple as a flea allergy or could be the sign of a serious, underlying condition that must be diagnosed and treated by a veterinarian.
Potential Risks of Giving Your Dog Too Much Coconut Oil
There are several reasons why you might want to give your dog small amounts of coconut water, coconut milk, coconut meat, or coconut oil. Too much, however, could cause stomach upset if it’s introduced too quickly.
According to the Drake Center for Veterinary Care coconut oil may have some drawbacks including the following:
Weight gain in dogs is associated with an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, joint pain, and pancreatitis. Keep in mind that weight gain is associated with coconut oil, not coconut water.
Worsen Some Conditions
A regular diet of coconut oil could worsen conditions like pancreatitis and hyperlipidemia (elevated levels of lipids or fats in the blood).
Ultimately, coconut oil is best used as a topical treatment. Worsening conditions should be seen by a veterinarian.
13 Creative Uses of Coconut Water That Reap the Most Health Benefits
Giving your dog coconuts should be more fun than just pouring it into their doggy water bowl. The following list offers a few creative ways of introducing this diet staple into your dog’s diet.
#1. Mix With Regular Food
Coconut water is perfect for softening hard, dry kibble for dogs. Dogs with mouth pain, recent dental procedures, or oral surgery benefit most from soft foods.
HOW TO DO IT
Warm some coconut water to enhance it’s food softening properties. Soak the kibble in the warm water until soft enough to lightly mash with a fork.
#2. Use Coconut Meat to Hide Medication
There are many commercial products on the market designed to make medicine administration much easier.
If you’re looking for more natural food to feed your dog and you’re concerned about the ingredients in commercial treats, a small piece of soft coconut meat might do the trick.
HOW TO DO IT
Use a spoon or a small paring knife to carve a small hole. Insert the capsule or pill and feed the piece to your dog with the medicine inside.
#3. Make a Paw Spa Bath
Dog paws take a lot of wear and tear. Hot asphalt, concrete, rocky trails, sand, and other irritants can make your dog’s paws rough and sore.
HOW TO DO IT
Treat your dog to a little spa bath by pouring lukewarm coconut water into a basin or bowl. Add a splash of coconut oil for a softening effect. If your dog won’t put his/her paws into the basin you can use a soft cloth (or your bare fingers) to gently massage the solution into the paws.
This is a fantastic idea for rinsing off dirty paws before they can track dirt through the house.
#4. Spritz on a Hot Day
Keeping a dog cool on a hot day is as important as keeping him hydrated. For some dogs, a refreshing spritz of cool water can help to keep them cool when out playing in the park or walking a trail.
HOW TO DO IT
Purchase or reuse a plastic spray bottle. Fill 1/3 full with coconut water ice cubes or ice cubes made with plain water. Add pure coconut water to fill to the top.
Occasionally use to spritz your dog under the armpits or on the belly where there is less fur. Be careful not to get water into the eyes or into the ear flaps.
You can spritz the water on the fur, but it will have a better cooling effect if you can reach areas where there is more skin and less fur.
#5. Baking Dog Treats
Substituting Coconut oil or coconut milk in recipes for your furry friend is a great way to add nutrition to his/her food.
HOW TO DO IT
Replace any recipe for dog treats using coconut oil in place of regular oil. Coconut milk or water can replace the liquid in most recipes.
#6. Make Coconut Water Ice Cubes
Use coconut water to make ice cubes. Use them in your dog’s water bottle to keep the water cool on hot days.
HOW TO DO IT
Fill regular ice cube trays with coconut water, leave in freezer until frozen through. For more fun, use food grade silicone molds with a doggy theme!
#7. Use Coconut Oil To Treat Doggy Dandruff
Apply coconut oil directly to your dog’s fur to help reduce dandruff and relieve dry skin itch.
Do not apply to dog’s who have allergies, open cuts, dermatitis, or other skin conditions without the advice of a veterinarian.
HOW TO DO IT
Coconut oil is easily warmed in the hands and can be applied directly to dog’s fur. If it clumps in one place, simply brush the coconut oil through the fur evenly. Do not eat oil on the stove or in a microwave before use on a dog. It can overheat very quickly and cause serious burns.
#8. Add Fiber Using Coconut Pulp
Help a constipated dog by adding coconut water with pulp to their dog food or simply offer it as an occasional drink.
Go slow and only give your dog small amounts of coconut water in the beginning. Although unlikely, there is a chance your dog could have an allergic reaction.
#9. Use for Growing Puppy Bones
Coconut water, milk, and oil contain nutrients that are beneficial for growing dogs. Small amounts are key. Check with a veterinarian.
Coconut milk is high in healthy fats that may help dogs who need to gain weight. Underweight puppies or dogs recovering from an illness may benefit from the added nutrition.
#10. Make Coconut Milk Pupsicles
According to the smart folks at KOL’s Notes, tips and trips from the DIY Dog, you can add coconut milk to your pup’s favorite foods included:
- canned dog food
- canned pumpkin
- add a sprinkle of cinnamon
- add some peanut butter
- pop a fresh sprig of parsley
Make coconut pupsicles by adding a small amount of your dog’s favorite flavor into a mold with coconut milk. Freeze and Serve!
#11. Flea Prevention
There is some thought that an application of coconut oil to a dog’s fur may help prevent flea bites. It doesn’t hurt to try, especially if there are few other option. Ultimately, the best option is a monthly topical application available from the veterinarian.
Killing adult fleas is only part of the problem. There is no way to kill the larvae or pupae of fleas. Therefore, it would take an enormous amount of coconut oil applied daily over several months to get rid of an entire flea infestation.
#12. Find it in TruDog Fortify Me Freeze-Dried Raw Omega Toppers!
Coconut oil is right up there with salmon skin, sweet potatoes, beet pulp, carrots, beef heart and beef liver when it comes to super foods. If you don’t have the time or energy to make highly nutritious dog treats yourself, there’s always TruDog.
Fortify Me is a raw food topper designed to add a little excitement to your dog’s everyday kibble or wet food. It supports healthy gums and teeth, helps maintain healthy digestion, helps maintain healthy weight, and supports a strong immune system.
#13. Best Coconut Water/Milk Brands for Dogs
You don’t have to buy green coconuts to get the best water for your dog. There are many brands of coconut water available at your local grocery store. Some brands are specific to dogs, but may only be more expensive without any added ingredients.
When shopping for coconut water, avoid products with added sugars (especially toxic sweeteners like xylitol!) or additives.
Coconut water is considered safe for healthy dogs, but it shouldn’t be used as a substitute for regular water. All parts of a coconut have a high nutrient value, but they should not be considered a cure for all things.
Using coconut oil, milk, or water to supplement your dog’s diet is a great way to boost your dog’s natural immunity while giving him/her tons of energy. Remember, dogs need plenty of hydration. Too much coconut water may act as a diuretic, so keep amounts small and always reach for fresh, plain water when possible.
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