Healthy oils and fats added to your pets’ diet often make them look and feel better. One oil that is gaining popularity in human and veterinary medicine is coconut oil. I just bought a 14 oz jar of Organic Coconut oil for myself and my pets from Trader Joes. I started with one teaspoon for myself, and one half teaspoon to my four footed ten pounders and a whole teaspoon for my sixty pound lab several times per week. Remember to start with a small amount of any fat to make sure pets can tolerate it. (Especially pets with sensitive guts or pancreatitis!!)
Coconut oil may help the body fight off viruses, bacteria, and yeast (great for animals with skin issues). It may also help the thyroid gland and pancreas work better That would be helpful for many dogs with low thyroid problems or diabetes. Daily coconut oil may also encourage weight loss by improving thyroid function and helping burn fat. The type of fat in coconut oil, Medium Chain Triglycerides, cause the more efficient burning of fat. Both of these qualities may help with weight loss! Of course reducing the amount you feed, decreasing treats, and increasing exercise are all important! I have had 2-3 clients try coconut oil and report positive results with their pets’ chronic skin problems. The oil helps fight infection and make the coat softer and skin healthier! The research studies and feedback convinced me to try it on myself and my pets!
Why would you have to add healthy oils to dog food anyway? If all commercial pet foods are “complete and balanced”, why do we have to add anything? Some dogs need different ingredients for better health and lots of dogs need more oils to help their skin and hair coat! All you have to do is look at all the dogs with a dull hair coat or flaky skin to realize there’s something missing in the diet. Some dogs have a great coat, even eating the cheapest commercial food, but others have a dull, dry coat even when eating an expensive food! Experience has taught me that all animals are unique individuals with different needs. Some may feel and look better eating a hypoallergenic diet. (One free of common allergens in the diet like wheat, barley, beef, or chicken). Others may need fewer carbohydrates because they gain weight easily. Dogs sporting a dry flaky coat and frequent skin problems may need different foods (hypoallergenic, raw, home cooked) and healthier oils added to the diet.
I’ve seen clients change their pet’s diet only to ruin it all by feeding grain filled biscuits, treats, chews, or other foods that are extremely allergenic. The wheat, barley, chemicals, or other meat proteins in the toxic treats may negate all the good effects of the rest of the diet. It would seem that the better ingredients did not help, when in reality, the treats lovingly given, caused continued medical problems! You would not believe how many skin problems, ear problems, and bowel problems are caused by toxic treats. There are healthy treats, but unhealthy ones are far more common!
Greg Martinez DVM is the author of two books on feeding pets better ingredients to help with chronic medical issues , “Dog Dish Diet” and “Feed Your Pet to Avoid the Vet”