Coconut oil has become a health trend among humans in the past decade. Now, it’s getting into the pet industry as well, thanks to the many health benefits it has for dogs, and particularly dog skin problems.
So let’s take a closer look at how to use coconut oil for dog skin problems.
What Is Coconut Oil and What’s In It?
Coconut oil is extracted from mature raw coconuts or dried coconut kernels (3). It is edible and it’s very likely that you’ve eaten it before, even if you are not aware of it. This product is a regular part of many cuisines, especially in Asia.
In addition to the food industry, coconut oil is often used in beauty products. It can be found in different forms, like most other oils. There is unrefined, virgin and extra-virgin coconut oil. You can also find refined coconut oil on the market, which has a neutral taste.
Coconut oil is very rich in healthy fatty acids, which make up approximately 65% of its content (4). The medium-chain fatty acids that coconut oil provides include the following:
- Lauric acid: 49%
- Myristic acid: 18%
- Caprylic acid: 8%
- Palmitic acid: 8%
- Capric acid: 7%
- Oleic acid: 6%
- Linoleic acid: 2%
- Stearic acid: 2%
Most of the benefits of coconut oil for dog skin problems will be attributed to lauric acid, of which there’s nearly 50% in coconut oil – no other oil on the planet has as much of it (5).
6 Benefits of Coconut Oil for Dog Skin Problems
1. Coconut Oil Will Moisturize Your Dog’s Skin
Healthy and hydrated skin is crucial to maintain, both in humans and dogs, to keep bacteria away from the body, because it acts as a strong barrier.
Several studies with humans and animals demonstrated how applying some coconut oil onto skin will keep it better hydrated, ultimately making it not only look healthier and shinier, but also maintaining its barrier strength.
One study in particular found significant improvements on skin hydration when applying coconut oil, and it was just as effective as some other well-known treatments.
Another study found how coconut oil fights negative effects of eczema, a skin condition that may cause itchiness, rashes and scaly skin in dogs. Applied coconut oil reduced all these factors, made the skin less dry and effectively treated eczema .
2. Coconut Oil Kills Bacteria Present on a Dog’s Skin
Speaking of keeping the skin healthy to fight off bacteria, coconut oil not only helps with that but also keeps dangerous microorganisms away from the skin due to its antimicrobial properties, some of which could cause a number of different skin conditions.
The main protector in coconut oil is lauric acid, and there’s approx. 50% of it in coconut oil. Studies found how lauric acid is the most effective fatty acid at blocking and fighting different harmful bacteria, many of which cause different skin problems.
To a lesser extent, capric acid found in coconut oil is another effective fighting agent and researchers found that it’s great not only for fighting a variety of bacteria strains, but also preventing fungi growths.
3. It Helps to Repel Parasites
Studies found that fatty acids in coconut oil provided protection against several parasites for up to 7 days. For brown dog ticks in particular, coconut oil had repellency from 84% and up to 88%.
In addition to that, coconut oil was found to be an effective repellent against stable flies and other blood-sucking insects such as horn flies, bed bugs, and lone star ticks.
4. Coconut Oil Helps Treat Various Skin Conditions in Dogs
Due to the way coconut oil components are able to reduce inflammation on the skin thanks to their anti-bacterial properties, the result of that is reduction in chance of developing several skin conditions like eczema, crusty scabs, atopic dermatitis, acne and others. Most of this is again due to lauric acid content in coconut oil.
Furthermore, studies show how a combination of lauric acid and capric acid, both of which are present in abundance in coconut oil, are extremely effective at killing the specific bacteria that causes skin health problems, and is even more effective than benzoyl peroxide.
5. Coconut Oil Helps to Heal Your Dog’s Skin Wounds
For a dog that has a wound on their skin, applying coconut oil will help the healing process as well as prevent further inflammation and infections, according to several animal studies.
One study in particular observed how components of coconut oil improve the status of antioxidants and increase collagen levels (both of which are crucial to the healing of wounds) and, thereby, effectively speeds up the whole wound healing process.
The anti-microbial properties of coconut oil will also prevent the development of infections and inflammation, and reducing the risk of complicated healing process.
Coconut oil is even good at treating and healing wounds from burns, particularly when it’s combined with an antibiotic.
6. Coconut Oil Reduces Skin Inflammation
A number of dog skin conditions are the result of inflammation and coconut oil was found to have anti-inflammatory properties, and even help with relieving pain associated with some skin conditions.
In another study of different oils (coconut, sunflower, olive oil), scientists found that only coconut oil was effective at improving levels of antioxidants and preventing oxidative stress, which then eased inflammation.
Finally, coconut oil was also shown to fight skin fungi like candida, prevent hair damage and help protect the skin from UV rays by up to 20%.
How to Use Coconut Oil for Dog’s Skin Problems
Coconut oil can be given to dogs orally or applied topically onto a dog’s fur and skin. Including coconut oil in your dog’s diet can improve their health in general but for the best results regarding skin and coat health, coconut oil should also be used topically.
Which Coconut Oil is Best for Dogs?
There are two ways that coconut oil is produced: wet processing, where the oil is derived from raw coconut meat to create virgin coconut oil, and dry processing, where the oil is derived from dried coconut meat and kernels.
Several studies have shown that virgin coconut oil (from wet processing) is much better and more effective for skin health and different skin conditions.
Below are some of the best and proven brands of coconut oil for dogs and their skin.
How to Feed Coconut Oil to Your Dog?
Coconut oil can be given to dogs daily with meals, one or two times per day. The amount of oil in your dog’s meals depends on your pet’s size.
It is recommended that you introduce coconut oil into your dog’s diet very slowly. Try to start with 1/4 of a teaspoon for small dogs on a daily basis. For large breeds, start with 1 teaspoon with every meal.
Overweight and obese dogs should not be given coconut oil more than once a day because it has high-fat content. Pay attention to your dog’s weight if you give him coconut oil on a regular basis and consult your vet if you notice any weight gain.
How to Use Coconut Oil Topically?
Using coconut oil topically on dogs is simple. Start with small “test” amounts to see how your dog’s skin or fur reacts first. Also, because your dog’s fur can get greasy if you apply too much.
Simply rub a bit of coconut oil between your hands and put in on your dog’s fur, like you are giving your pet a gentle massage. Use your fingertips to rub the oil on the dog’s skin as well. It is best to apply coconut oil once or twice a week. If you are trying to deal with a specific skin problem in a dog, apply the coconut oil directly to the affected area.
Your dog may lick some of the oil but that’s not a problem because coconut oil is edible, healthy and safe for dogs. However, it is best to let the oil get absorbed for about five minutes and then rinse your dog off to get the excess oil off if need be.
Alternatively, you can make a DIY dog shampoo from organic coconut oil and use it to bathe your dog once a month, or more frequently if needed due to certain skin issues.
Keep in mind that some dogs can be allergic to coconut oil. If you notice any signs of an allergic reaction, like itchiness, hives, red or inflamed skin, swelling, vomiting and diarrhea, take your dog to the vet to rule out or confirm a coconut oil allergy.