Are you on a health kick with your dog?
Are both of you adding coconut oil to your diets in order to boost your health and gain some of the many benefits from one of nature’s superfoods?
And it was going so well until your dog started to help himself!
As sure as night follows day, after a dog eats too much coconut oil they will end up throwing up.
Don’t panic too much, most dogs will not suffer any long lasting effects from their coconut feast.
To find out what you should do and whether coconut oil is as fantastic as many people say it is, read on…
My dog ate coconut oil and is throwing up…
The symptoms of eating too much coconut oil or of coconut poisoning as it is also called can range from a bit of vomiting and diarrhea to pancreatitis.
And there are lots of factors involved in how severe your dog’s symptoms will be.
The biggest one will be how much coconut oil that he consumed.
Other factors include:
How fit and healthy your dog is
How old they are
Depending on how severe and long lasting your dog’s symptoms are will also affect whether you can treat your dog at home or whether you will need to take them to the vets.
How can I treat my dog at home?
A young, fit and healthy dog should cope fine even if they have had most of a jar of coconut oil.
Your dog’s body should be able to deal with it by getting it out of the system as quickly as possible.
It will try to do this by throwing up or your dog could have a nasty bout of diarrhea for a day or two.
Expect some vomiting and/ or diarrhea from your dog.
And expect this to last for up to 24 hours.
Apart from the diarrhea and vomiting, your dog should still seem OK.
Have plenty of fresh water available or you might try a bone broth.
But, if there are no improvements within 24 hours you will need to phone your vet.
How might a vet treat my dog?
At the most extreme end of the scale, your dog might get pancreatitis.
Dogs who are most at risk of pancreatitis are older dogs, very young dogs and dogs who are overweight.
The pancreas is an organ near the stomach which helps digest food.
It produces enzymes that break down food as part of the digestion process.
Because coconut oil is mostly fat, it could be that the pancreas becomes overwhelmed.
Instead of producing enzymes it becomes infected and stops working.
A dog with pancreatitis, as well as having diarrhea and vomiting, will lack energy and will visibly not be themselves.
They won’t be interested in eating and they could have an irregular heartbeat.
If these symptoms persist for more than 24 hours, you will need to go to the vets.
Vets will then treat your dog in any number of ways.
It might include doing an ultrasound to get a look at the pancreas or giving them plenty of fluids to help fight against dehydration.
What is in coconut oil?
Coconut oil is the oil that is produced from pressing the white flesh of a coconut.
A quick look at the nutrition of coconut oil shows that it is 99% fat and 1% carbohydrate.
Its saturated fat content is about 82.5% and its unsaturated fat content is 6.3%, leaving 1.7% of polyunsaturated fats.
Unsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fats are the healthiest fats, while trans fats are the most unhealthy fats.
And between these two points, sit saturated fat.
And of course, fats are constantly being studied by different scientists and so the “facts” are always changing.
Other nutrients in coconut oil that can be found in very tiny amounts are Iron, zinc choline, vitamin E and vitamin K.
Five massive health benefits of coconut oil for dogs
Coconut oil has acquired that mythical status of a superfood or at least as a super ingredient in recent years.
Of course, the health benefits of coconut oil were recognised firstly for people but any human health fad quickly transfers over to the dog population.
Coconut oil’s main “claim to health fame” is that it contains lots of good fats called MCTs (medium chain triglycerides.)
These fats are good for humans and dogs because it is claimed that they can:
- Give the brain more energy
- Reduce the risk of heart disease
- Lower blood sugar levels
- Promote weight loss
- Help against epilepsy and Alzheimers
Which I’m sure that you agree are some very bold claims.
And the real power of MCTs is in the way that the body processes them and stores them.
MCTs are processed by the body and quickly turned into energy which the body uses immediately.
Importantly, they aren’t stored as fats.
Is coconut oil with 99% fat content really that healthy?
The only trouble is that it might not be true.
Coconut oil probably doesn’t contain as much of these MCT fats as was previously thought and that it most contains a massive amount of bad fats.
And because of this, coconut should be thought of as unhealthy and only used in extreme moderation.
I recommend that you dig deeper into this research yourself.
This page contains a podcast with Melinda Culver, who is a veterinarian and is also a research scientist who has done lots of work around MCTs.
Or you can watch this incredibly controversial video from a Harvard professor which claimed that coconut oil is incredibly unhealthy for people or their dogs.
But be warned, this is a hotly debated subject!
What is a safe dosage of coconut oil?
As with any new food that you introduce to your dog, start off with very small amounts per day and then over a week or ten days build up to the recommended daily amount, which is based on the weight of your dog.
So on day one add ¼ teaspoon of coconut oil to your dog’s food
On day two ½ teaspoon of coconut oil to your dog’s food
On day three ¾ teaspoon
On day four 1 teaspoon.
By introducing it slowly you are giving your dog’s body time to get used to this new ingredient and time for you to see if the dog has any nasty side effects from it.
Most commonly this will be our old friends vomit and diarrhea!
If you don’t see any side effects then from day four or five, start to increase the portion size of coconut oil until they are getting 1 teaspoon per 10 lbs of body weight.
So, one of my Golden Retrievers is 66 lbs and so her daily limit should be about six teaspoons of coconut oil
How can I stop my dog eating coconut oil?
It is more than likely that your dog ate coconut oil because you accidentally left a jar of it out on a work surface.
You normally keep the jar tucked away in a cupboard but on this one occasion, it didn’t get put back.
And there is little that can be done to protect against such accidents.
Sometimes we are just more rushed, more stressed and more forgetful and that is just life.
Even the most highly organised people have “off days.”
However, it might be that your jar of coconut oil normally stays out on a counter and your dog has never seemed bothered by it until now.
If this is the case, you will need to start putting your coconut oils or cooking oils away in a cupboard because in my experience, if you continue to leave them out on a surface, a dog will get them again.
And finally, I want to deal with the tricky issue of finding safer alternatives to coconut oil.
Are there safer alternatives to coconut oil?
If accidents can happen and by accidentally leaving coconut oil out for your dog to feast upon, a legitimate question that you might have is, what are the safer alternatives.
I think if you are adding coconut oil to your dog’s diet because of some of the health benefits listed earlier (reducing the risk of heart disease, promoting weight loss or feeding your dog “brain food”) then there are much safer alternatives.
But they will take up more of your time.
Most of the health benefits from coconut oil can be gained by making sure that your dog has plenty of exercise.
Or if you are feeding coconut oil to an older dog to try and reverse some signs of aging, then you might want to play some games or do some training sessions with your dog which will help them to keep their brains as sharp as possible.
Hopefully your dog’s brush with coconut oil has left no lasting damage and that suffered little else about from a bout of vomiting.
But having read some of the latest research into coconut oil which questions how healthy it truly is, are you going to keep using it with your dog?
Let me know in the comments.