In recent years, coconut oil has taken center stage for its health benefits and numerous uses.
People use it to help with everything from losing weight to killing viruses and pathogens. Sometimes it seems like there’s no condition you can’t solve with a bit of coconut oil therapy.
With all these positive effects for humans, it’s no wonder that loving dog owners wonder if some of the effects of this “miracle oil” can also apply to their canine companions.
This questioning is especially true when you see your dog suffering unnecessarily, as is often the case with a bitch who’s just given birth to a litter of puppies and is struggling to nurse them without pain.
Here we will tell you everything you need to know about using coconut oil to soothe your nursing dog’s nipples and whether or not it really is the “silver bullet” to treat this condition.
Why Do Dogs Get Sore Nipples When Nursing?
Your dog’s instinct will be to nurse her new litter of puppies to give them the vitamins and nutrients they need to get a healthy start in life.
However, this natural need to care for her babies sometimes leaves the mother dog’s nipples sore and inflamed.
This discomfort can be a natural result of the puppies’ suckling or a more severe issue like mastitis.
If your dog’s nipples are simply chapped or cracked, it can indicate a natural irritation from nursing.
However, if you notice other symptoms, you may be dealing with a more serious mastitis infection.
Generally, you should check your nursing bitch’s mammary glands at least once daily.
Look for any early symptoms of an infection, such as extreme swelling, temperature change (hot or cold), redness or blueness in the skin, a change in the type or color of secretions, or the dog acting differently when touched.
If you notice any of these problems, you should have the issue evaluated by your veterinarian.
Untreated mastitis can cause much more serious issues for the dog.
However, if the nipples only show slight swelling, cracking, chapping, or signs that the puppies have bitten them, you can treat the condition at home with coconut oil and help relieve the nursing mother’s pain.
What Are Some Of The Advantages Of Using Coconut Oil On Your Dog’s Nipples?
Coconut oil makes an excellent choice to treat your dog’s sore nipples because it’s a natural product. Other creams exist on the market meant for relieving irritated skin. However, many can prove harmful to the nursing puppies or the mother.
For one thing, many of these types of creams are not meant for animal use and contain ingredients that could prove harmful if ingested. If you put them on your nursing dog’s nipples, both she and the puppies will consume the ingredients, and it could potentially make them sick.
Coconut oil, however, does not carry the same risks. It’s safe for ingestion and, in small amounts, should not produce any unwanted side effects to the mother or her puppies. As you apply it topically to soothe the nipples, the puppies will not ingest very much of it, and you can feel confident that what they ingest will not harm them.
In addition, coconut oil has both antifungal and antibacterial properties. This benefit means using it on your dog’s nipples could potentially help prevent more serious infections like mastitis.
Coconut oil also works exceptionally well to trap moisture on the dog’s skin and acts as an anti-inflammatory that promotes the healing of skin cells. Therefore, it works extremely well at soothing dry or cracked areas that your dog may find itchy and want to keep scratching.
What Are Some Of The Disadvantages Of Using Coconut Oil On Your Dog’s Nipples?
Regarding the different product selections on the market for soothing your nursing dog’s nipples (such as petroleum jelly, nipple ointments, or Lansinoh cream), coconut oil has far fewer disadvantages than any others.
In fact, the only real disadvantage to using coconut oil on your dog’s skin is that it can tend to be a bit greasy, which some dogs find unpleasant. However, its soothing benefits will likely outweigh the temporary greasiness that occurs from the application.
How Should You Apply Coconut Oil To Your Dog’s Nipples?
At the first sign of discomfort your dog shows when nursing, you should apply the coconut oil treatment.
Warm a small amount of coconut oil between the palms of your hands and gently massage it onto the dog’s sore nipples. Focus on applying it thoroughly to the most inflamed or irritated areas. Leave the coconut oil on the dog’s skin to let it absorb and moisturize.
Depending on how quickly the area responds to the treatment and heels, you can apply the coconut oil daily or a few times a week. You should notice that the applied coconut oil soothes the sore areas, and your dog will feel more relaxed and find nursing easier and less painful.
How Quickly Will It Ease Swollen Nipples?
The positive effects of coconut oil on your dog’s swollen nipples should occur almost immediately. Shortly after applying the oil to your dog’s skin, you should notice a decrease in swelling, redness, and pain. After a few days of the treatment, the nipples should return to a normal, supple look, and your dog should get back to quickly nursing her puppies without any pain.
Is Coconut Oil Poisonous For Puppies To Ingest?
No. The good news is that coconut oil is perfectly safe for both puppies and the mother dog to ingest, which means that you don’t have to worry about wiping it off the mother’s nipples before nursing.
Coconut oil does not have any sugar, sodium, or anything else that could potentially harm puppies if ingested. It’s mostly made up of healthy fats and a few carbohydrates.
Some holistic veterinarians even recommend adding small amounts of coconut oil to a dog’s diet because it’s believed to have qualities that can help many canine health conditions. However, you should never use it as a replacement for a healthy diet, as even though it’s high in healthy fats, it won’t satisfy your dog’s daily requirements.
However, this knowledge should make you feel comfortable knowing that using coconut oil will not harm your dog or her puppies in any way.
What Are Other Methods To Soothe A Nursing Dog’s Nipples?
Other methods exist to help soothe your nursing dog’s nipples; you may want to use some of these in conjunction with applying coconut oil topically. Often, the method you use depends on the individual dog and its situation.
Many dog owners find that placing a warm, wet cloth on the nursing dog’s nipples will help them relax, soften, and soothe the pain. You can also gently massage the nipples with your fingers to help release milk. This method may prove beneficial if your dog’s nipples are swollen due to a decreased demand for nursing (more often the case in dogs with a small litter).
Like a warm washcloth, sometimes a cold compress will help as well. The cold will help to numb the pain and bring down the swelling.
You may want to try using a cold or warm compress on your dog and then follow that treatment by applying coconut oil to continue soothing. Many owners find that petroleum jelly quickly eases the pain as well, but it is not as safe for ingestion.
If you think your dog’s nipples are getting irritated because of too much moisture, you can try to apply baking soda or corn starch to help keep the area dry.
Remember, if you see indications that the swelling or pain has to do with an infection, you should immediately take the dog to the vet for treatment and not rely on any home remedy.
What Other Ways Can You Use Coconut Oil On Dogs?
As mentioned, some dog owners feed their dogs small amounts of coconut oil to supplement their diet and obtain perceived health benefits. If you wish to add this oil to your dog’s diet, make sure you first talk with your vet and use unrefined virgin coconut oil.
You can also use coconut oil topically on your dog for other skin conditions such as dry skin, rashes, dermatitis, minor cuts or scrapes, and insect bites. It will provide the same soothing and anti-inflammatory effects for these conditions.
Finally, adding a few drops of coconut oil to your dog’s shampoo can also help improve their coat appearance. You’ll find that it makes your dog’s coat feel smooth and healthy and even look shinier.
Conclusion: Can I Put Coconut Oil On My Nursing Dog’s Nipples?
As we discussed, coconut oil makes a great product to soothe your nursing dog’s sore, swollen, or chapped nipples. It’s an entirely natural and safe product, which makes it an appealing way to provide near-immediate relief to your dog without unpleasant side effects.
Coconut oil will also not harm the newborn puppies if they ingest it, so you don’t have to worry about wiping it off your dog’s skin before she nurses.
It’s easy to find high-quality coconut oil at any grocery store or even online, making it an accessible home remedy you can quickly implement when needed.
To best care for your nursing dog and support her during this critical time in her life, make sure you check her nipples at least once a day and address any issues causing her pain immediately. If an issue seems extremely bothersome, or your suspect an infection, take her to your veterinarian for an examination and professional medical treatment.