Many raw feeders mistakenly believe (and teach 😬) that coconut oil contains the essential fatty acid omega-3. As a result, many pet parents erroneously believe that they are supplying their dogs with this essential fatty acid by adding coconut oil to their dogs’ meals. However, in reality, coconut oil is not a source of omega-3 or omega-6 fatty acids. Omegas 3 & 6 are long chain fatty acids, meaning they contain 13 or more carbon atoms in their chain. Coconut oil is a source of medium chain fatty acids (8 or 10 carbon atoms) known as MCTs, specifically capric/caprylic acid. So why then all the hype about adding coconut oil to your dog’s diet and yours? This is a good question with an even better answer.
MCTs are unique and rare in nature being found only in coconut, palm kernels, and the milk of humans and several mammals. For starters, MCTs are digested in the small intestine. From there they travel directly to the liver where they are metabolized for energy. Meaning? Your dog is not likely to “gain weight” from MCTs; in fact, you can use coconut oil for WEIGHT LOSS. Yep!! People, too. Even better, MCTs support your dog’s microbiome, the microflora that inhabits the gut and is essential to your dog’s immunity (70% of immune cells are in the gut as well as 90% of immune capacity), digestive health, and elimination of waste for starters. MCTs are in fact anti-bacterial, antifungal, and anti-parasitic. They are also anti-inflammatory (like omega-3s, hence the error) and serve as antioxidants. Even more, MCTs increase B vitamin and fat-soluble vitamin (A, D, E, K) absorption, beta-carotene absorption (which dogs can convert to the non-toxic form of Vitamin A, unlike cats who cannot), and the absorption of amino acids, the building blocks of protein molecules.
How does that sound? Sounds like an excellent supplement for my dogs and me! One creative way to incorporate coconut oil in your dog’s diet is to use silicone molds for making candy. My professional suggestion is to buy and use only VIRGIN coconut oil to retain those vital, healthpromoting properties. And since coconut oil is a saturated fat and therefore solid at room temperature, you can fill silicone molds with the oil and put them in the refrigerator to set. No need to freeze. Consider adding blueberries, cranberries, or another berry to the coconut oil molds, or supplement powders such as spirulina, alfalfa, wheatgrass, and chlorella…be creative. I haven’t yet met or heard of a dog who doesn’t like coconut oil! Got another unique idea for feeding coconut oil? List it in the comments. 👇 We all love to learn new ideas!
©2018 Kimberly Lloyd, PhD, BCHHP, Cert Raw Dog Nutritionist