Even the most exotic and far-flung of treats can find their way into the diets of our pets from time to time, and that’s especially true for those that come with lots of added health benefits.
Of course, sometimes dogs run the risk of eating things they shouldn’t, not least since many foods that humans can safely enjoy are quite toxic to their tummies.
Fortunately, that isn’t the case with this example. Can dogs eat coconut? Absolutely – but in order to get the best from it, make sure you check out the advice below, so both you and your pet can make the most of this tropical treat.
Are coconuts good for dogs?
Although nowadays we consider our dogs part of the family and much-beloved ones at that, it’s always crucial we all remember that dogs and humans have evolved to gain nutrition from their food very differently.
This is one of the reasons why people need to think twice before handing some foods to dogs – some cause tummy upsets, and some bring with them the risks of poisoning your pet.
It’s sometimes scary to think about, but luckily in the case of coconuts, you have nothing to fear. Even those who wonder if dogs can have coconut oil are often pleasantly surprised.
In fact, coconut oil is often added to dog supplements or sprinkled in small doses on dogs’ meals by conscientious owners who are looking to take advantage of the health benefits of coconuts for dogs.
Whereas many fruits and vegetables that human beings enjoy can be a little rich in natural sugars to be realistically included in a dog’s diet too often, there’s a strong case to be made for giving your dog coconut meat.
Of course, it hopefully goes without saying that even those dogs with the strongest and most robust teeth and jaws ought not to be given the hairy hard nastiness of a coconut husk though!
It’s the meat of the coconut, as that inner white substance is called, that holds the best benefits for your pup.
Coconut milk is also safe for dogs to drink, although much of the nutrition and remedial effects of coconuts can be found in that white flesh itself.
Of course, it’s always wise to give new kinds of food to your dog in small doses.
An excited dog will gulp any new kind of treat down fast enough to cause themselves a potential choking hazard or internal obstruction of their digestive passages – puppies are especially fond of overdoing it like this.
But more than this, it’s just wise to gauge just how fond your dog is of a given treat, and coconut fed to your dog is best cut into little pieces to make sure it goes down smoothly and doesn’t cause them any fuss.
Health benefits of coconuts for dogs
The only real acknowledged risks of giving coconut to your dog come from the fact that it can cause a little bloating and tummy upset if it’s overdone – much the same as a number of other foods that tend to be preferred by people versus our pooches.
That said, most dogs can enjoy coconut in moderation, and also get plenty of health perks from doing so.
Before we dive right into what those are, please do remember that it’s best to feed your dog treats like coconut pieces plain, in a no-frills way.
It might seem a bit bland to the rest of us, but if you sprinkle some sugar or a little cream on a piece of coconut before handing it over to your pup, you’re setting a bit of an unhealthy precedent.
Sugars, fats and dairy products altogether aren’t anywhere near as well handled by your dog’s digestive system as our own, and additions like these might not only add to their weight gain long term but potentially override any benefits your dog would otherwise enjoy by eating coconut.
One of the health benefits of dogs eating coconuts is that it boosts your pet’s immune system marvelously.
Not only does that mean a poorly dog can enjoy some coconut or coconut oil with their meals to hasten their recovery – but it also means that coconut intelligently added to your dog’s diet, or dished out as a reward for good behavior, adds to their ability to resist falling unwell in the first place.
More than this, coconuts add wonderfully to your dog’s ability to resist falling prey to arthritis long term, or otherwise suffering from feelings of being bloated or fighting off viral infections.
That’s because coconuts are a lovely way of giving your dog some added anti-inflammatory protection within, in a way that’s easy for them to gobble down and digest.
It’s also good for the skin, so you might find that your dog eating coconuts might give them a healthier look overall over the long term – even a glossier coat of fur.
Some dog owners even pamper their pet with a belly rub of coconut oil to help this benefit along too.
How much coconut can a dog eat daily?
Even we human beings might well struggle to get an entire coconut gobbled up in one sitting, and certainly are unlikely to feel the need to eat an entire one daily.
By the same token, dogs certainly don’t need an entire coconut per day – even the equivalent of a quarter of a coconut per day would likely be too much.
Just a little handful of diced up coconut pieces sprinkled or grated into your dog’s dinner is going to do them the power of good.
Similarly, only a few pipette drops of coconut oil in their meals is all that’s needed to help the nutrients get into their system, even among larger breeds.
This is because, strictly speaking, dogs don’t need fruit and vegetables to gain their nutritional needs – instead, these are to be treated as a little bit extra.
Indeed, dogs suffer indigestion pretty easily from fruit and vegetables if they eat too much, even if that amount might seem quite small to us, their owners.
Too much coconut will certainly give your dog an upset tummy, but luckily nothing more severe than that in the long term.
If you’re definitely in doubt of how best to proceed, ask your vet for advice, particularly if they have met and worked with your dog before.
Every pet is an individual, after all, and your vet can advise if it’s wise to give your dog coconut at all, and in what amounts.
What to do if your dog eats coconut
Dogs have a wonderful talent for getting into mischief, even if they’re largely well behaved.
This comes into its own when your pet is after treating him or herself to something tasty – there’s a whole new sense of slyness that dogs can show in moments like this!
If you catch the dog eating coconut, you can at least rest assured that he or she is not going to come to any immediate harm.
The only situation in which the reverse of this could be true is if there are particularly large pieces of coconut being eaten by your dog, or if your dog is trying to get tuck into a whole and uncracked coconut.
In the case of the latter, intervene before your dog gets frustrated and starts thrashing the coconut about – the husk might fly free from their teeth and the coconut itself could cause breakages in the home.
If your dog is eating large bits of coconut though, you ought to instead watch for choking or internal blockages.
Dogs caught eating what they shouldn’t sometimes hasten their eating to hide the evidence, which can exacerbate the issue.
If it’s simply a question of your dog eating too much coconut, then don’t worry – the worst that might occur is a sore tummy and a bit of an embarrassed look on your dog’s face.
The feelings will soon pass, but your dog will experience quite a lot of discomfort, so consider keeping some fresh water close at hand to help soothe them.
Whether you’re considering adding a dash of coconut oil to your dog’s dinner, want to grate some coconut meat onto their food or are even considering adding a dash of coconut milk to their drinking bowl, you have nothing to fear.
As long as it’s served up in moderation, coconuts do not do any harm to your dog – unless you try and feed your pet the husk, of course, which does them about as much good as it would us.
Coconuts boost the immune system of your dog and help them stay alert and energized, but are to be considered a supplement to your dog’s meals rather than a replacement to them.
The only risk that coconuts have for your dog is a case of tummy upset or overall inner discomfort, and that only comes about if your pooch is seriously overdoing it with this treat.
Emily started this blog out of pure passion. She LOVES her 3 dogs; Chew Barka, Cooper & Nelson, and spends countless hours every day playing with them.
When she’s not nerding out on dogs, you’ll find her on a snowboard or in the kitchen baking chocolate brownies.
She’s been featured in PetAware, Dogtime, and ModernDog.