The short answer is yes! Coconut meat is just as healthy, if not more so, than coconut oil alone. They share similar properties since they come from the same place.
Coconut is non-toxic to dogs, but it does contain medium-chain triglycerides, which may cause some gastrointestinal upset and bloating. You’ll want to check with your veterinarian before giving your dog coconut, of course.
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.
What Coconut Products Can Dogs Eat?
Our omnivorous canine companions don’t need coconut in their diet, but it’s generally a safe treat that many of them enjoy. To feed it safely, follow this guideline.
Coconut oil is also non-toxic to dogs, but… You don’t want your dog gaining weight now, do you?
If you feed too much coconut oil or feed sweetened coconut oil to your dog, it will lead to weight gain or digestive problems.
Just as for coconut flesh, we recommend talking things through with your vet before feeding. Coconut oil is used in safe amounts in various commercial dog food diets and treats.
Adding coconut oil to your dog’s bowl can also help digestion, boost metabolism to help maintain a healthy weight, and provide an instant energy boost. Some veterinarians also recommend coconut oil for long-term digestive issues like colitis.
The ASPCA warns that coconut flesh contains oils that can cause stomach upset, diarrheas’, and loose stools.
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While small amounts will not harm your pet, it is best to be cautious when feeding this food to your pet. Also, before introducing any new foods into your dog’s diet, always consult with your veterinarian.
Unsweetened coconut milk is safe as a dog treat as long as it is given in small amounts (about a teaspoon per meal). Coconut-flavored ice cream is also safe for dogs in moderation, and if non-dairy, can be especially helpful if they are lactose-intolerant
Coconut sugar is safe for dogs to eat. While dogs don’t need added sugar in any form, coconut sugar has a low glycemic index, so it makes a healthier alternative to cane or beet sugar if you’re sharing a homemade cookie with your dog.
While coconut flakes are safe for dogs nutritionally, if the flakes are very large they can pose a choking hazard to dogs and are best avoided. Shredded or very small flakes are a better choice for dogs, and should be fed just one at a time.
How Much Coconut Can Your Dog Eat Safety?
Again, treats of any kind (including coconut) should only make up 10% of a dog’s daily caloric intake. The other 90% should come from a well-balanced dog food diet.
- Extra-small dog (2–20 pounds): 1/8 teaspoon of coconut meat per day
- Small dog (21–30 pounds): 1/2 teaspoon of coconut meat per day
- Medium dog (31–50 pounds): 1/2 teaspoon of coconut meat per day
- Large dog (51–90 pounds): 1–1 ½ teaspoons of coconut meat per day
- Extra-large dog (91+ pounds): 1–1 ½ teaspoons of coconut meat per day
Is It Worth the Risks to Feed My Dog Coconut in Small Amounts?
Silverman recommends always consulting with your veterinarian prior to making any changes to your dog’s diet, and “don’t be afraid to ask questions of your vet; that’s what they’re there for!” In addition, Brister recommends starting anything new under the direction of a veterinarian and in very small doses.
When choosing to give your dog coconut oil, “its possible benefits of having anti-inflammatory properties do not necessarily outweigh its risks, even at very low doses, especially when other types of oils may offer better benefits,” Brister explains.
In addition, she says that coconut meat, water, or milk may not offer good enough benefits for the cost and effort.
How should I feed my dog coconut?
First off, always check with your vet before feeding your dog coconut. They’ll be able to recommend whether it’s a good idea for your dog based on their medical history, and they’ll suggest the amounts you can safely offer.
When feeding coconut to dogs, always make sure you remove the shell as this could cause blockage or damage to your dog’s digestive system if swallowed.
Never feed sweetened coconut commonly used in baking as this is very high in sugar. However, for the keen bakers out there, you can try your hand at baking your own dog treats using a small amount of coconut oil if approved by your vet there are plenty of great recipes out there!
Remember to always follow the rule of 10% when offering your dog coconut and ensure that treats never make up more than 10% of their daily calorie intake.
4 Ways to Prepare and Serve Coconut to Your Dog
If your veterinarian gives you the green light to feed coconut to your dog, there are plenty of ways to prepare and serve it to your furry friend.
- Baked coconut: Dog owners can add shredded or dried coconut to their favorite DIY doggie treats, usually without dramatically altering the recipe. Remember not to add more coconut to a baking recipe than you would offer a la carte.
- Fresh coconut milk: If your pup develops a taste for coconut milk or fresh coconut meat, add it to their regular dog food to boost their meal’s flavor and nutritional value.
- Frozen coconut: Frozen coconut makes a tasty dog treat. Put shredded coconut in the freezer and wait a few hours before serving. You can offer it a la carte or as a garnish for other foods.
- Raw coconut: Dogs can safely digest raw coconut. Ensure they only consume a few morsels of coconut meat and remove any shell fragments.