Can dogs eat coconut?

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cute dog in front of a background of repetitive coconut halves

Science Photo Library/Nynke van Holten/Getty

Curious if dogs can eat coconut? From coconut oil to coconut milk to coconut water, canine experts take a look at what’s safe to feed and what isn’t.

Can Dogs Eat Coconut Safely?

The short answer is that it’s complicated. And it depends on what part of the coconut your dog eats. Jacqueline Brister, DVM and consultant for Embrace Pet Insurance explains that you should avoid serving your dog whole coconuts or coconut chunks as the shell is not digestible and can cause intestinal blockage and damage.

Why Are Types of Coconut Products Safe for Dogs to Eat?

Coconut flesh

According to the ASPCA, coconut meat contains oils that can cause stomach upset, diarrhea, and loose stools. Although it will not cause serious harm to your pet in small amounts, it is best to be cautious when feeding this food to your pet. And always ask your veterinarian for advice before introducing any new foods to your dog’s diet.

coconut oil

According to Sophia Silverman, co-founder and president of A New Chance Animal Rescue, a 501c3 dog rescue based in Bedford Hills, NY, though dogs can consume coconut oil in very small amounts without poisoning themselves. , there is some debate as to whether this is of any real benefit to dogs. “There’s not a lot of ongoing research on this either, which makes it difficult for pet owners to properly weigh the pros and cons,” says Silverman.

If you choose to feed your dog coconut oil, do so with extreme caution because “it can cause potentially serious gastrointestinal issues in some dogs,” Brister warns. Additionally, she explains that pancreatitis, a life-threatening inflammatory condition in the pancreas, can occur from feeding dogs even small amounts of coconut oil, even as little as one tablespoon twice a day. Finally, coconut oil can also cause diarrhea, especially in high doses.

If you feed your dog coconut oil in homemade diets, Brister says it shouldn’t be the only source of fat because it’s not a good source of essential fatty acids. For example, coconut oil contains only about 2% of linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid (corn oil contains about 54%). “This is also important when considering it as an anti-inflammatory for issues like skin conditions – it won’t be as effective as other oils because it’s low in essential fatty acids,” Brister says.

And what about topical application of coconut oil on your dog? Some people apply coconut oil topically to soothe dry skin, which Brister says “may be helpful for some canine patients because it’s high in vitamin E. Discuss its use with your veterinarian first. , because dry skin may actually be caused by an underlying problem that requires medical attention.”

coconut water

Coconut water is the sweet, semi-clear liquid that is most prevalent inside green, immature coconuts. As the coconut ages, this water hardens into the white meat that forms inside the coconut shell. The ASPCA says coconut water is high in potassium and should not be given to pets. Brister also suggests that “no major benefits of coconut water have been reported, particularly when dogs are fed a balanced diet.” So you’re better off hydrating with coconut water but giving your pets regular H2O.

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Coconut milk

Coconut milk is made by grating and mashing coconut meat and mixing it with water. “No major benefits of supplementing a dog’s diet with coconut milk have been reported, particularly when dogs are fed a balanced diet,” says Brister, but coconut milk can be a good source. calories for dogs that need them, such as those with megaesophagus. or who suffer from malnutrition.

However, like the flesh, coconut milk sometimes contains oils that can cause upset stomachs and pooping problems in dogs, so it’s best to speak with your pet’s veterinarian to see if it would be a liquid. useful to consume according to its state of health. . And the next time you indulge in a glass of coconut milk, it’s probably best not to share it with your pup.

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Is it worth the risks to feed my dog ​​coconut in small amounts?

Silverman recommends always consulting your veterinarian before making any changes to your dog’s diet, and “don’t be afraid to ask your vet questions, that’s what they’re here for!” Additionally, Brister recommends starting something new under the guidance of a veterinarian and in very small doses.

When choosing to give coconut oil to your dog, “its potential benefits of having anti-inflammatory properties do not necessarily outweigh its risks, even at very low doses, especially when d “Other types of oils may provide better benefits,” says Brister. Additionally, she says coconut meat, water, or milk may not provide sufficient benefits for the cost and effort.


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