Almost 50% of the medium-chain triglycerides found in coconut oil are lauric acids, saturated fatty acids that our bodies convert into monolaurin. Monolaurin is one of the natural world’s greatest antivirals, antibacterials and antifungals. Because they come from natural sources, these fatty acids pose no danger to your pets’ bodies, unlike man-made antibiotics and anti-virals.
Coconut has been used for wound healing for thousands of years. A new study published in the International Journal of Dermatology confirms that coconut oil aides in treating atopic dermatitis, a chronic skin condition characterized by scaly and itchy rashes.
Furthermore, one study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food found that “coconut oil is extremely effective at killing Candida albicans, a common yeast infection in humans.” Another study published in the Journal of Bacteriology discovered that “coconut oil can help kill Staphylococcus aureus, which is a common cause of skin conditions and respiratory diseases.”
Or, if using topically, just rub the oil on your hands and apply to your pet’s coat (remember not to over do it!).
Health Tip of the Week – Organic Coconut Oil!
We know that by now you have probably heard all about the benefits of coconut oil, so why yet another coconut oil article!? When our star editor and writer, Lise Blinn, wrote this article last summer and dropped it onto our desks, we thought it was great. However, we’d wait until the winter before publishing it.
Wrong decision! Deemed one of the top 5 additions to your pet’s diet by Dogs Naturally Mag, the news hit fast & cue the hundreds of blogs on coconut oil that came out in the following months!
In the great words of Ricky Bobby: “If ya ain’t first, yer last!”
Why did we wait? The main focus in all of the coconut oil articles was on allergies, and so it rightfully should be. As Lise had written in her original article, “Allergies develop when immune system gets out of balance. An allergic response or reaction happens when the immune system overreacts to an allergen. A common misconception is that you have to strengthen the immune system to fight allergies; however, it is not a question of strength, but of balance.
There are as many ways to deal with pet allergies as there are actual allergies. One of the most interesting that I have read about this summer season is a product that I myself particularly love using while cooking: coconut oil!
The health benefits of coconut oil in humans include hair care, skin care, stress relief, maintaining cholesterol levels, weight loss, increased immunity, proper digestion and metabolism, relief from kidney problems, heart diseases, high blood pressure, dental care, and bone strength.”
But how can this be helpful for pets? Below is a list of health benefits for our furry friends in accordance with Dr. Bruce Fife:
• Improves digestion and nutrient absorption
• Aids healing of digestive disorders like inflammatory bowel syndrome and colitis
• Reduces or eliminates bad breath in dogs
• Aids in elimination of hairballs and coughing
• Contains powerful antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal agents that prevent infection and diseases
• Regulates and balances insulin and promotes normal thyroid function
• Helps prevent or control diabetes
• Helps reduce weight, increases energy
• Aids in arthritis or ligament problems
So although it is clearly great for allergies, we would like to go one step further and talk about yet another great benefit from this incredible fat: its therapeutic properties on your pet’s skin. Besides all the incredible info on the positive health benefits of ingesting coconut oil for you and your pets, it has also been used for decades by professional massage therapists to help protect skin from the aging effects of free radicals and to help improve the appearance of skin with its anti-aging benefits. Our logic was that we should wait a few months until the winter; a time for dry skin, thin coats, cracked noses and paws, and flaky skin! Continuing with Dr. Bruce Fife’s findings, coconut oil:
• Clears up skin conditions such as eczema, flea allergies, contact dermatitis, and itchy skin
• Reduces allergic reactions and improves skin health
• Makes coats become sleek and glossy, and deodorizes doggy odor
• Prevents and treats yeast and fungal infections, including candida
• Disinfects cuts and promotes wound healing
Physiologist and biochemist Dr. Ray Peat explains, “When coconut oil is absorbed into your skin and connective tissues, it helps to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles by helping to keep your connective tissues strong and supple, and aids in exfoliating the outer layer of dead skin cells, making your skin smoother.”
So you can see the double dose of beneficial effects that this oil could have on your pet. Instead of driving around town in search of a cream or potion that will help with your pet’s damaged skin, you can use a virgin organic coconut oil instead! (Virgin and extra-virgin coconut oils are made from the first pressing of fresh, raw coconut without the addition of any chemicals).
We believe the main focus should not be on the coconut itself, conversely on the Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs). The main component of the MCTs is Lauric Acid (Lore–ick), a powerful virus and gram-negative bacteria destroyer. This is what makes up over 50% of the good stuff. Basically, it is what makes this oil so special! Dr. Joseph Mercola calls Lauric Acid a “miracle ingredient because of its unique health promoting properties.”
Lauric Acid is also super rare stuff! Try finding it in large bioavailable doses elsewhere. Unless you have a supply of breast milk kicking around, you are out of luck!
The second best thing about this saturated fat is that it is super easily digested by your pets without hampering their systems. Pets with GI issues or sensitive stomachs can benefit from coconut oil because it does not need lipase, an enzyme that the body uses to break down fats in food so that they can be absorbed in the intestines. Nor does it need bile from the gallbladder to help process it, as with many other essential fatty acids! It is easy to assimilate and digest!
Some of you may have heard about damaged molecules in heated oils becoming toxic! The process of hydrogenation manipulates vegetable and seed oils by adding hydrogen atoms while heating the oil. This produces a rancid, thickened oil that really only benefits processed food shelf life and corporate profits. This is so prevalent in oils that the medical and scientific communities are now fairly united in the opinion that hydrogenated vegetable and seed oils should be avoided. No need to worry about that with coconut oil, whose structure is not affected when heated.
If you’re thinking about adding coconut oil to your shopping list, it is suggested to buy 100% organic virgin coconut oil. Often, you can find various coconut oils in organic health food stores or in the organic section of your local grocery store. But remember that it’s important to start slow. Introduce coconut oil a little at a time in very small doses. If your pets show any negative reaction to the coconut oil, discontinue use immediately.
The reason for this phased-in approach is because coconut oil kills bacteria, viruses, parasites, yeasts, and fungi. Your dog may respond negatively to this detoxification. Signs of detoxing too rapidly may include lethargy, fatigue, and diarrhea. If your dog does have any such reaction, just temporarily cut the daily amount back to allow your dog’s system to gently adjust. This is another reason why dividing your dog’s intake of coconut oil between two feedings a day is a good approach.
It is best to give coconut oil with food. You can drizzle the coconut oil on top of your dog’s kibble or other food. The recommended maximum dosage is:
• ¼ teaspoon for every 10lbs of body weight twice daily, or
• ½ teaspoon for every 10lbs of body weight once daily.
1 tablespoon of coconut oil can be around 130 calories, so make sure you remove an equal portion of calories out your pet’s diet & daily required calorie intake when adding in.
Give it a try! And don’t forget to add the delicious ingredient to your own diet as well!
Columnist & Editor – Lise Blinn
Co-written – Rodney Habib, Pet Nutrition Blogger