Can Dogs Eat Coconut? + Benefits & Cautions

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There are many different foods out there that your pets can eat, and sometimes giving them a mixture of fruits, veggies, or other foods aside from their normal dog food can be a great way to supplement the diet and help them get the vitamins and nutrients they need.

However, it’s important to remember that the digestive system of a human and the digestive system of a dog are going to be very different in many ways [1].

Because of this, it’s important to do your research before feeding your dog some scraps. Their eagerness to eat people food often goes for about anything – they don’t know whether it’s going to be healthy or not for them, or whether it can even hurt them.

Because of this, you need to resist the temptation of that doggy-eyed stare and make sure to do all your research before feeding them something different.

The question “Can dogs eat coconut?” falls right into this category.

As with many questions about whether or not you can feed a certain food to your canine companion, there’s a more mixed in-depth answer.

Is Coconut Bad for Dogs?

a dog wonders if they should eat coconut

According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), coconut is not toxic to dogs [2]. Coconut oil has often been recommended as a nice little additive to dog food, and actual coconut can also provide plenty of benefits.

This isn’t toxic but it is important to note that there are enough things in a coconut that can affect digestion in ways that aren’t going to look positive.

For example, coconut contains “medium chain triglycerides” which won’t affect some species of dogs, but it will cause digestive discomfort, bloating, and irritation.

This can off-set some of the positive effects and at the very least can be an issue with an indoor dog.

Benefits of Coconut for Canines

There are multiple benefits of adding a little bit of coconut to your dog’s diet [3]. For one thing, coconut meat can help to decrease inflammation, especially in the joints.

coconut milk

This is great for both high energy dogs as well as older canines that can use the off-set to arthritis.

The lauric acid in coconuts have been shown to be good for helping to fight off viruses as well as strengthening the immune system to help fight off other common issues.

This means quicker healing of cuts, reduced swelling from injuries, and even a more active immune system against things like yeast infections and ringworm (though proper medicine from your vet should always be used).

Some vets believe that a little bit of coconut mixed into the diet means more defense against bacteria, parasites, or even fungi in the environment.

In other words, if your dog likes the taste of coconut, there are several great health reasons for mixing some of this into the diet. That being said, it should only be coconut oil or coconut meat. The husk or shell should never be tossed out as food or something to be chewed on.

Moderation Is the Key

A lot of coconut will most likely lead to some serious digestive and bowel issues. A little bit here and there isn’t a bad way to up the nutritional mix for your favorite dog, but this should not be a big chunk of your dog’s diet during every meal.

Moderation helps make sure that you get the best health benefits from coconut without the negative side effects that you’re trying to avoid as a responsible pet owner.

In other words, a little bit of coconut here or there goes a long way [4]. If in doubt, don’t overdo it.

Coconut is Best for…

a french bull dog laying in the sun

Coconut has some really great health benefits for nearly all dogs, but there are certain types of dogs that are going to see even more benefit from coconut than others. Because of the health benefit that comes from coconuts, there are two main types of dogs who are going to benefit:

  • Dogs who have stiff joints, arthritis, or similar issues
  • Dogs who are incredibly active and thus put a lot of wear and tear on the body

The special health benefits that coconuts bring to the table for your dog are going to be particularly helpful or useful for these types of dogs but even if yours doesn’t fall into this category, a little bit of coconut every once in a while could be a good thing.

Obviously if coconut seems to cause a lot of gastric distress then it’s time to cut your pet off but otherwise a little bit of coconut can be quite healthy.

Summary

As you can see, a small amount of coconut in moderation can be good for your dog.

Don’t let them over indulge, and keep an eye to make sure they don’t seem upset by it, but if everything looks good then feeding a little bit of coconut to your dog can be a great way to enhance their health.

Resources

  1. 7 Interesting Facts About Your Dog’s Digestive System, PetMD. Retrieved from https://www.petmd.com/dog/nutrition/7-interesting-facts-about-your-dogs-digestive-system
  2. Katie Finlay, Can Dogs Eat Coconut?, American Kennel Club. Retrieved at https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/nutrition/can-dogs-eat-coconut/
  3. Coconut, Smart Dog Owners. Retrieved at https://smartdogowners.com/coconut/
  4. Angela Vuckovic, Can Dogs Eat Coconut?, Pet Guide. Retrieved at https://www.petguide.com/health/dog/can-dogs-eat-coconut/

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