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Food & Diet

Let Your Dog Go Nuts for Coconuts

At A Glance

If you’re looking to give your pet a taste of the tropics and wondering can dogs eat coconuts, then the answer is yes. Coconuts are non-toxic to dogs and play a big role in promoting metabolism, skin and coat health, immunity, and digestion. However, not all parts and by-products are ideal for dogs.

  • Keep your pet away from coconut sugar, candies, the shell, and husk
  • The amount of coconut you feed your dog depends on its size, age, health, and activity level

Last Updated on: May 03, 2022

If you’re a fan of all things tropical, you may be among those who enjoy snacking on a coconut on a hot summer day. But what about your pet? Can dogs eat coconuts too?

It’s a question worth exploring since coconuts are a popular superfood known for their many health benefits. From coconut oil to coconut water, this tropical fruit is quickly becoming a staple in human diets. But is it safe for our four-legged companions to indulge in this exotic treat?

Let’s look at the potential benefits and risks of feeding your dog coconuts. I’ll also give you some tips on safely incorporating this tropical delight into your pet’s diet.

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Coconutty Canines: Is it Safe to Treat Your Pet to the Taste of the Tropics?

If you’re among the many dog parents who wonder, “Can dogs eat coconut,” the answer is a resounding yes! Like Sue Schwartz, Dog Lover, Ohio, says, “Short answer: Yes. And because I know you’re wondering, yes, Lexie liked the fresh coconut!”

Dogs can consume fresh, unsweetened coconut meat in small amounts as a part of a balanced diet. In fact, coconut meat may be more beneficial to dogs than the processed coconut oil used in recipes.

While coconut is not-toxic to dogs, it does contain medium-chain triglycerides, which can cause gastrointestinal upset and bloating when eaten in excess amounts.

It is, therefore, better to consult the vet before introducing your pet to coconut.

Since coconuts are yummy, your pet may have the urge to indulge. But too much coconut can create digestive issues and problems like greasy stools, diarrhea, and fatigue. “In small amounts, it’s ok, but it can cause diarrhea”, says Sally Shelden.

Benefits Of Coconut in Your Dog’s Diet

Feeding your canine companion coconut in moderation can provide several health benefits, including:

Healthy Metabolism

Unlike the long-chain triglycerides found in meat and dairy products, coconuts have medium-chain triglycerides, which are absorbed easily, support healthy metabolism, and promote weight loss.

In addition, you can use coconut oil in dog-friendly recipes to make your dog feel fuller. This is helpful for dogs who are overweight and prone to overeating.

Improves Digestion

Coconut meat is rich in fiber, which promotes regular bowel movement and prevents constipation. Fiber also plays a good role in regulating blood sugar, which means the fruit is diabetic-friendly.

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Promotes Skin and Coat Health

Coconut oil is known for its rejuvenating properties, and people from various communities apply it to their faces and hair.

Topically applying coconut oil on your dog’s body can help keep its skin moisturized and reduce the risk of skin problems. The oil’s anti-inflammatory properties help fight yeast infections and reduce skin issues such as hot spots, flea allergies, and dry, itchy skin.

Coconut oil is also rich in essential fatty acids, including lauric acid, which can help reduce inflammation.

Strengthens Immunity

Coconut contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that can help support your dog’s immune system and protect against oxidative stress. These compounds can also reduce the risk of chronic health problems, like heart disease, cancer, and cognitive decline.

Risks of Feeding Coconut To Your Dog

While coconut is a healthy food when consumed in moderation, it should not be a staple in your pet’s diet. Individually, dogs may have different reactions to it. Besides, too much of anything isn’t good for anyone, let alone dogs.

Jacqueline Brister, DVM and consultant for Embrace Pet Insurance, says, “No major benefits of supplementing a dog’s diet with coconut milk have been reported, especially when dogs are fed a balanced diet.”

Here are some risks to consider while feeding dogs coconut:

  • Dogs may experience digestive upset after consuming coconut. This can include diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach pain. If your dog is eating coconut for the first time, observe it for any signs of distress.
  • In rare instances, some dogs may develop allergic reactions to coconut, like itching and skin irritation. On that note, coconut oil serves as a good anti-allergen that can be topically applied on dogs.
  • Coconut oil, in particular, can interfere with certain medications, like blood thinners and insulin. If your dog is on any medication, it is important to consult a vet before adding any form of coconut to its diet.
  • As much as coconut is considered a healthy food/treat component for dogs, it is still high in calories and fat. As with most food types, feeding too much coconut can result in weight gain and other health problems.
  • Coconut shells and husks can be a choking hazard for dogs. They can also cause intestinal blockage.
  • Coconut meat is also hard and can be a choking hazard if not cut into small pieces.

dog eating coconut

Parts of a Coconut That Dogs Can and Cannot Eat

While it’s generally safe to feed your dog coconut in moderation, not all parts of this fruit are created equal.

In this section, we’ll break down which parts of a coconut your dog can safely consume and which ones to avoid, so you can share your love of coconuts with your mutt without putting its health at risk.

Breaking it Down: Coconut Parts That Are Safe for Dogs

Coconut Meat:

The white fleshy part of the coconut is good for dogs. Cut it into small pieces or flakes before you feed it to your pet. It can also be a good ingredient for several dog treats.

Coconut Oil:

Depending on the size of your dog, adding a teaspoon or tablespoon of coconut oil with meals, which many believe, could increase its nutritional value.

However, Carla Pfeiffer, Veterinarian, says, “They [dogs] can, but there are no health benefits to oral consumption of coconut oil. Topically it can help the skin, but there are no scientific studies on the benefits nor results of giving oral coconut oil.”

This also backs what Dr. Angela Rollins, Veterinary nutritionist, mentions, “I often have clients ask me if they can use coconut oil as their pet’s fat source. I have to tell them no because it lacks essential fatty acids like omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.”

I’d recommend consulting a vet before adding oil to your pup’s food.

Coconut Flour:

It is an ideal ingredient in dog-friendly baked goods. But be careful to use it in moderation. No matter how healthy, baked goodies with coconut flour should be given as treats, or the high fiber content could cause digestive problems.

Coconut Water:

While coconut water is generally safe for dogs, it can lead to digestive upset if consumed in large amounts.

Breaking it Down: Parts of a Coconut That Are Unsafe for Dogs

Coconut Milk:

This rich, white liquid is made from shredded coconut flesh and contains high fat levels. It can cause digestive upset in dogs and should ideally be avoided or fed in small amounts as a treat.

Coconut Sugar:

Coconut sugar has the same sugar content as that of regular table sugar. Sugar is a big no for your furry friend, and this would apply to coconut sugar as well.

Sweetened Coconut Candies:

Candies contain an unhealthy amount of sugar. So, it would be best to keep candies far away from your furry friend.

Coconut Husk or Shell:

Coconut husk and shell are not edible and, obviously, should be kept away from your pet. Besides being a choking hazard, the shells have fiber-like hair, which can irritate your dog’s throat.

According to Jacqueline Brister, DVM and consultant for Embrace Pet Insurance, “You should avoid serving your pooch whole coconuts or pieces of coconut shell as the shell is not digestible and can cause intestinal blockage and damage.”

Here is a table outlining the generic amounts of coconut products ideal for dogs.

Coconut Product Recommended Serving Size General Feeding Instructions
Coconut Oil 1 tsp per 10 lbs of body weight, up to 1 tbsp per day for small dogs, 2 tbsp per day for larger dogs Mix with food.
Coconut Milk 1-2 tbsp per day, depending on size Serve as a treat or add to food.
Coconut Shreds 1-2 tbsp per day, depending on size Sprinkle on food or serve as a treat.
Coconut Chips 1-2 chips per day, depending on size Serve as treats.
Coconut Flesh Small amounts as a treat, no more than 10% of daily calorie intake Serve as a treat or add to food.

Recipes Your Pooch Will Go Coco-Nuts For

Many dog-friendly recipes incorporate coconut and coconut by-products. While some recipes are intricate, there are easier ways to go about this.

For example, you can add a small amount of coconut milk to your dog’s kibble for some extra flavor and moisture. Alternatively, you can also sprinkle small amounts of unsweetened coconut shards on top of your dog’s food for that extra flavor and nutrition.

Moreover, coconut water is a great way to keep your pet hydrated on hot days. Be sure to choose plain, unsweetened coconut water, as many commercial varieties contain added sugars.

Here are some simple recipes you can try if you’re in the mood to give your pet a treat.

Coconut Cookies

In a mixing bowl, combine ½ cup each of melted coconut oil, pumpkin puree, rolled oats, and 1 egg. Drop spoonfuls of the mixture onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and flatten them with a light press of your hand or a spatula.

Bake at 350°F (180°C) for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown and firm to the touch. Allow it to cool, and garnish with shaved coconut before serving.

Coconut Chips

Who doesn’t love a crunchy treat? And our furry friends are no exception. That’s what makes this coconut chips recipe a sure winner. But remember to make these without any added sugars. Moreover, this should be fed in moderation as coconuts are high in calories.

Here is how you go about making coconut chips:

  • Separate the coconut flesh from the shell using a knife or spoon. Then, peel off the brown skin (if desired). This may take a bit of practice, so be careful.
  • Grate the coconut flesh into thin, long strips.
  • You can dry the coconut chips either in an oven or a dehydrator. It is easier to dry them in a dehydrator.
  • At about 40ºC/105ºF it should take you about 4-6 hours. Lastly, let the chips cool completely before transferring them into an airtight container.

Such unsweetened coconut chips, when stored in an airtight container, can last up to 6 months.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How Much Coconut Can I Give My Dog?

The answer depends on several factors, including your dog’s size, age, activity level, and overall health. It is always recommended to feed dogs coconut in moderation, as the fruit is high in fat and calories.

Can Dogs Eat Coconut Flakes?

Unsweetened plain coconut flakes can be a healthy treat for dogs. They contain healthy fats, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, such as manganese and iron.

However, coconut flakes are also high in calories and fat, so limiting portions is important. Avoid those that contain added sugar or other artificial ingredients.

Can Dogs Eat Dried Coconut?

Yes, dogs can eat dried coconuts, but in moderation, as they are high in fat and calories. Again, unsweetened plain variants are the safer alternative.

Avoid store-bought dried coconut, and use a dehydrator at home to get the most out of this healthy treat.

Can Dogs Eat Coconut Shell?

No. Coconut shells (and husks) can be a choking hazard for dogs. They can also cause intestinal blockage if ingested.

Dogs tend to play with coconut shells because of their interesting shape, which could lead to the fiber getting into their mouth and choking them.

Can Dogs Have Coconut Water?

Yes, many dogs like the sweet taste of coconut water. While coconut water is generally safe for dogs to drink, it can lead to digestive upset if consumed in large amounts.

Like all foods, it must be had in moderation. Moreover, ensure the product has no added sugars and artificial sweeteners, as they are toxic to dogs.

Can Dogs Have Coconut Milk?

Yes, but in small amounts. Coconut milk contains high levels of fat and can cause digestive upset in dogs if fed in moderately large amounts. They are not ideal per se, but dogs can enjoy coconut milk as an occasional treat.

 

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Meet Paul, a devoted dog dad to the delightful French Bulldog, Cofi. With a flair for humor and a deep understanding of Frenchie quirks, Paul brings a lighthearted touch to his writings. His relatable stories and practical insights are a blend of laughter and valuable advice and resonate with fellow dog owners.


Through his words, Paul aims to celebrate the joys and challenges of being a dedicated pet parent, reminding you that life is simply better with a four-legged, snorting sidekick by your side.