can dogs eat coconuts
Pet Health Questions and Answers

Can Dogs Eat Coconut?

Coconut is one of my favorite things in desserts, from candy bars to cookies! If you also enjoy it, you might wonder if you can share with your pampered pooch.

Coconut is very healthy for your dog’s skin, coat, and immune system. Like all things, it should be fed only in moderation. If you have a whole coconut, rather than shredded pieces, be sure to remove the husk and cut it into bite-sized pieces for your dog.

Avoid sweetened coconut and desserts containing coconut because they contain too much sugar. Coconut water contains large amounts of potassium and should also be avoided.

Let’s dive in below to discover what makes coconut so great for our dogs, and which coconut products are best.

Is Coconut Toxic to Dogs?

Coconut is non-toxic, but it can upset your dog’s stomach. In the beginning, we recommend feeding it in small amounts and monitoring your dog for any pain, bloating, or stomach upset.

Overall, coconut is very healthy for your dog when fed in moderation—and if they eat a bunch of it by mistake, the worst that’ll happen is an upset tummy.

However, coconut given too frequently may cause high cholesterol and more frequent stomach problems.

Coconut and coconut oil cannot replace the fat your dog needs in their diet because it lacks omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. It should be used only as a supplement alongside a high-quality dog food.

Many people feed their dogs coconut oil for its benefits toward a dog’s skin and fur. Coconut itself can provide the same benefits, which we’ll dive into below!

coconut and dogs
Dogs and Coconut

What are the Benefits of Coconut for Dogs?

1.     A Healthier Coat

This is one of the top reasons people give their dogs coconut oil—to make their coat sleek, shiny, and healthy! Luckily, coconut meat also provides the same benefits.

Whether you’re rubbing coconut oil onto the fur directly, giving your pup coconut oil to eat, or feeding plain coconut, there are plenty of ways for your dog’s coat to benefit from this amazing fruit!

2.     Helps Dogs with Skin Conditions

Another common use for coconut oil is to help skin conditions. It’s often given to dogs with allergies as a natural way to soothe their itching. Again, it can be put on the skin directly or given for your dog to consume. Or, you can give them a few pieces of coconut!

It can be used together with parasite prevention medication to soothe itching from flea bites, or in tandem with antibiotics to help a dog with a skin infection. Coconut oil can be used on your pup much like you use lotion—as an everyday moisturizer, to soothe itching, and even to reduce swelling.

You can also rub it on your dog’s paw pads if they’re feeling rough or damaged.

3.     Decreased Inflammation

Coconut contains lauric acid, which helps to decrease inflammation in a dog’s body. This is great for any dog, but particularly those dogs suffering from skin or joint conditions, such as arthritis.

It can also help injuries to heal faster, as the swelling can increase the time it takes a wound to heal. Of course, this isn’t a replacement for seeing a veterinarian if your dog is seriously injured—but it might benefit your pooch if they have a cut or scrape.

4.     Supports Your Pup’s Immune System

Coconuts aren’t a cure to illness, but they might aid the body’s natural defenses. They contain antioxidants that can strengthen the immune system and help to fight off illness.

Again, this isn’t a replacement for medicine or a vet trip when needed! But a healthy diet can help keep your dog as healthy as possible.

How Much Coconut can I Give My Dog?

Too much coconut can upset your dog’s stomach, so we recommend feeding only a small amount. The exact amount will vary depending on the size of your dog, but no matter the size, I recommend starting out small. A few flakes or less than a teaspoon of coconut oil can help you to see if your dog likes the taste, and how (or if) it effects their tummy.

Once they’re used to eating small amounts, you can give them more of it if you’d like! Remember that treats should never make up more than 10% of your dog’s diet, and coconut should make up a much smaller portion to avoid stomach upset.

Are Coconut Shells Safe for Dogs?

If you have a whole coconut you’d like to feed to your dog, you’ll need to remove the husk. This part of the fruit can pose a choking hazard and, if eaten, can cause a bowel obstruction.

If you’re looking to avoid food waste, try composting the husk or even grinding it down to create a potting medium for your plants!

What Other Coconut Products can Dogs Eat?

We’ve already discussed coconut oil, but there are actually many coconut foods out there that you might want to feed your dog! Below, we’ll explain whether you can feed them, how to do so safely, and what amounts to give.

  • Coconut milk can be given in small amounts so long as it’s unsweetened. It makes a good additive to dog food if you like giving your dog’s kibble a little extra boost! Feed them about one teaspoon.
  • Coconut yogurt contains sugar and dairy, and isn’t suitable for dogs. However, if your dog gets into it, it shouldn’t harm them. They might get an upset stomach.
  • Coconut flour is safe for dogs and can be used in homemade dog treats if you’d like! Treats should always be 10% or less of your dog’s daily diet.
  • Coconut sugar isn’t recommended. Though it’s healthier than cane sugar, dogs don’t need added sugars in their diet and it’s best avoided.
  • Coconut water contains too much potassium and therefore isn’t safe for dogs to drink.
  • Baked goods including coconut such as macaroons, cake, or cookies aren’t recommended. A small amount won’t hurt your dog so long as you check all ingredients, but these dessert items tend to contain too much sugar for your dog to have them as a regular treat.