Coconut is a wonderfully delicious treat that finds its way into many dessert and drink recipes, and what’s more, the flesh also makes a great snack by itself. It’s not just humans that have been enjoying coconut in their diet either – recently lots of dog foods and treats have been developed that contain this tropical ingredient. But that begs the question: “can dogs eat coconut”?
At Purina, we’ve got the answers you’re looking for. Keep reading to find out if dogs can have coconut, including the flesh, oil and even the milk!
Can dogs eat coconut?
Coconut flesh is not toxic to dogs, but it can cause problems if you feed too much. Coconut is relatively high in calories, so it can lead to unwanted weight gain. It’s also got a high fat content which can lead to stomach upsets and also increase the risk of pancreatitis, a serious condition. For this reason we only recommend feeding coconut in small quantities, and checking with your vet first. Your vet may advise against feeding coconut if your dog has certain health issues or is overweight.
Can dogs eat coconut oil?
Coconut oil is also non-toxic to dogs, but again it can lead to weight gain or digestive problems if you feed too much. 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.
Can dogs have coconut milk?
Coconut milk is also non-toxic, but many products on the shelves will contain additional additives that you won’t find in the flesh of the coconut. This adds an extra element of concern on top of the risks of obesity and gastrointestinal problems if you feed more than a small amount. For these reasons, your vet may well advise avoiding coconut milk.
Is coconut good for dogs?
There’s lots of information out there on the health benefits of coconut for humans – it’s thought to be good for the heart, have anti-inflammatory effects and promote healthy skin. However, there’s relatively little published evidence so far for health benefits in dogs. Coconut is high in vitamins, minerals and fibre, but these are things your dog will get from their complete and balanced diet, so there’s no need to add coconut to their food for these reasons.
A lot of the health claims about coconut are based on the effect of medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), a type of fat found in coconuts. MCTs can provide an efficient source of energy for the brain as your dog ages. However, the amount of MCTs can vary between different coconut products, so we can’t recommend giving coconut as a reliable way to get the benefit of these nutrients. Some dog foods contain MCTs in carefully calculated amounts to support wellbeing for older dogs.
Coconut oil is also used topically in various dog shampoos and moisturisers to benefit the skin and coat. It’s thought to help maintain a soft and shiny coat and healthy skin.
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.