Can Dogs Eat Coconut?

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If you enjoy tropical foods, you might eat coconut occasionally. Coconut is considered a fruit, nut, and seed, and many humans have coconut oil in their homes for cooking or personal grooming. Coconut can be a great addition to your diet, but it may also benefit your dog. Can dogs eat coconut? Yes, but it depends on the type. 

In general, coconut is safe for dogs, but you might have questions, such as, "Can dogs have coconut" or "Can dogs drink coconut water?" We'll answer everything you need to know about coconuts and dogs in this article, including the types of coconut products that are safe and unsafe for dogs. 

What Kinds Of Coconut Products Are Safe & Unsafe For Dogs?

Can dogs eat coconut, and is coconut good for dogs? In general, coconut is safe for dogs, and many people already feed their dog coconut oil or put it on their skin and coat during the dry winter months. You can even find coconut dog treats that boast benefits like skin and coat health or joint pain relief. Of course, these claims are based on the fact that there have been several studies demonstrating the benefits of coconut oil for humans and other animals, but that doesn't mean it's necessarily true for dogs. In most cases, limited scientific research has been done to prove the health benefits of coconut for dogs. 

Still, coconut may offer numerous benefits for dogs, including decreasing inflammation, boosting the immune system, offering anti-inflammatory properties, and moisturizing dry skin. In addition, coconut oil is antibacterial to help fight yeast infections, but that doesn't mean you should forgo modern medicine.1 Types of coconut products safe and unsafe for dogs include the following: 

Coconut Meat 

Coconut meat is safe for dogs, whether raw or dried. You can give your dog unsweetened coconut meat as a treat or in food. However, since coconut meat can be difficult to digest due to its high fat and fiber content, it's usually best to only feed your dog coconut meat in moderation. When you feed your dog coconut meat, always shred it if your dog has a habit of not properly chewing their food before swallowing. While coconut meat is considered safe for dogs, it can cause stomach upset, so it's always best to feed your dog small amounts until you know whether or not they'll have a reaction. 

Coconut Milk 

Coconut milk is safe for dogs, but it must be unsweetened. You can usually find coconut milk at the grocery store, but many brands are sweetened to make them more palatable for humans. If you want to share coconut milk with your dog, they should only drink unsweetened coconut milk because additional sugar can cause GI upset. In addition, too much sugar can be dangerous to your dog's health, leading to issues like weight gain, obesity, and diabetes. 

Unfortunately, while many pet parents believe coconut oil provides their dogs with health benefits, little research has been done to prove whether or not it's effective. Still, if you want to feed your dog coconut oil, only give it to them in moderation, as it can cause diarrhea. In addition, too much fat in coconut can lead to pancreatitis in dogs, so it's always best to consult a vet before feeding your dog any coconut oil. 

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is something many people have in their homes year-round because it has multiple uses and a long shelf-life. However, this healthy fat doesn't fulfill your dog's dietary requirements. Instead, coconut oil may be a good supplement to your dog's diet, but it's not something that should be relied upon for their overall health. 

Coconut Flour

Coconut flour is an alternative to wheat flour for those with a wheat or gluten allergy. It's safe for dogs and can even be used to make treats or other delicious dog-friendly foods you can share with your canine companion. 

Types of coconut that is safe and unsafe for dogs

Coconut Sugar

Coconut sugar has a low glycemic index, but it's still sugar, so it's typically best not to share any with your dog. Still, it's a healthier alternative to other types of sugar that are more harmful to pets. Avoid feeding your dog any sugar, coconut or otherwise, to prevent weight gain or blood sugar problems that can lead to hypoglycemia, especially in diabetic dogs. 

Is coconut bad for dogs? While several coconut products are safe for dog consumption, some aren't. Never feed your pet sweetened coconut products that contain added sugars, coconut shells that can be choking hazards or cause intestinal blockages, or coconut water with high potassium levels. In addition, coconut oil is high in fats and oils, so it can cause minor GI issues in dogs, like diarrhea and vomiting. 

Some dogs shouldn't consume coconut. While it's rare, dogs can have a coconut or coconut oil allergy. Dogs with pancreatitis or those at risk of pancreatitis should avoid coconut oil due to its high-fat content.2 Coconut oil also contains many calories, which can cause weight gain when given to dogs regularly. 

There is not enough scientific research to support claims that coconut oil is beneficial for dogs

Benefits Of Coconut For Dogs

Coconut for dogs has been widely discussed among experts; some vets believe coconut oil can improve dog health, while others think it unnecessarily adds calories and fat to their diets. Here's what we know about the potential benefits of coconut for dogs:

  • May decrease inflammation: Coconut meat contains lauric acid, a medium-chain fatty acid that may increase energy while fighting viruses. It may also be used to reduce infections like ringworm and Giardia.1 Of course, however, coconut meat and coconut oil are not medications and are less effective at treating all types of infections. Therefore, it's never a good idea to use coconut oil as a home remedy to treat your dog's ailments because it could make matters worse. 
  • Skin benefits: Coconut oil is often used externally in humans and pets to moisturize the skin and coat. Because it's anti-inflammatory and antibacterial, it may reduce dry, itchy skin symptoms and hotspots. Since oil is a good moisturizer, it may promote healing.1 However, coconut oil is not effective at treating or preventing infections. Therefore, if your dog has a wound, you should have them treated by a vet and avoid using any home remedies with coconut oil because it could leave your dog at risk of a worsening infection or illness. 

Unfortunately, there's no real benefit to giving your dog coconut oil. If your dog has joint problems, your vet will treat the underlying condition in several ways, and it likely won't include any home remedies like coconut oils. In addition, if your pet has dry skin, your vet will want to diagnose the cause of the skin issues to find the right treatment to eliminate the symptoms. 

FAQs

How much coconut can I give my dog?

How much coconut you can feed your dog depends on several factors, including their weight and health. Always consult a vet before feeding your dog anything new, especially if they have an underlying illness. When feeding your dog coconut, always completely remove the shell. In addition, always follow the 10% rule, which states that your dog's diet should consist of 90% regular food and 10% (or less) treats. In this case, coconut would be considered a treat. 

What does coconut do for dogs?

There's not much scientific evidence on coconut's benefits for dogs. However, it's non-toxic and generally safe to give your dog a small amount of coconut in moderation. In addition, many pet parents use coconut oil on their dog's skin to reduce dry, itchy skin. Since coconut oil is an oil that can provide the skin and coat with moisture, most dogs will experience temporary relief. However, if you truly want to treat your dog's dry, itchy skin, you should determine the root cause. 

Ultimately, coconut isn't part of a healthy dog diet, so if you choose to feed your dog safe coconut products, only do so in moderation and with your vet's approval. 

Can dogs drink coconut water?

Dogs should never consume coconut water because it contains high potassium concentrations, which is dangerous to dogs.3 Too much potassium can cause hyperkalemia, which affects the heart's ability to function normally.4

Puppy playing with coconut in the grass

Final Notes 

Can dogs eat coconut? Yes, but there are healthier alternatives. While there are some reported health benefits of coconuts for dogs, there isn't enough scientific evidence to prove the effectiveness of coconut for treating or managing certain health conditions in dogs. Instead, you should always talk to your vet if you're worried about your dog's health instead of relying on home remedies like coconut or coconut oil. 

Of course, if you want to share coconut with your dog as a snack from time to time, they can eat a small amount of flakes in moderation as a treat. While coconut may be non-toxic for pets, there's no reason to feed it to them unless otherwise advised by a vet. Instead, consult a Dutch vet when you have concerns about your dog's health. Whether they're experiencing hot spots, other skin issues, or joint pain, we can diagnose and treat the underlying cause to help your dog live a happy, healthy life. Try Dutch today.  

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References

  1. Finlay, Katie. “Can Dogs Eat Coconut?” American Kennel Club, 30 Aug. 2022, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/nutrition/can-dogs-eat-coconut/.

  2. “Coconut Oil for Dogs: Understanding the Benefits and Risks.” PetMD, https://www.petmd.com/dog/nutrition/coconut-oil-dogs-understanding-benefits-and-risks.

  3. “People Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Pets.” ASPCA, https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/people-foods-avoid-feeding-your-pets.

  4. “Excessive Potassium in the Blood in Dogs.” PetMD, https://www.petmd.com/dog/conditions/cardiovascular/c_dg_hyperkalemia.

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