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Coconut oil is an oil which is extracted from the raw, mature coconut. In recent days, it has become somewhat of a trend for humans to use coconut oil for anything from cooking to hair care, it is very beneficial for dogs too.
Coconut oil comprises of over 90% saturated fats. These are significantly healthier than unsaturated fats, and the fact that coconut oil contains such a high concentration of them, means that it is regularly regarded as a superfood. These saturated fats are made up of medium chain triglycerides which are the active and beneficial parts of the fat. Splitting it up further, medium chain triglycerides comprise of many fatty acids; specifically, lauric acid, capric acid, caprylic acid, myristic acid and palmitic acid. It also contains about 2% linoleic acid (also known as omega-6), a polyunsaturated fatty acid, and about 6% oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid.
Lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid are all responsible for coconut oil’s infection fighting benefits. They are mainly antifungal, but lauric acid also has some antibacterial and antiviral properties also.
Medium chain triglycerides are also easy for the body to digest and are an excellent source of energy through raising the metabolism of the body. This gives the dog a sense of energy and will improve its athletic performance, aiding in weight loss and improving fitness.
Coconut oil also aids the digestion. It enhances the absorption of nutrients, particularly fat-soluble nutrients. As a result, more of the food is utilised, rather than lost in the stools.
Finally, fatty acids, such as linoleic acid, have been known to be beneficial in improving skin, brain and joint health, as there are fatty components in the make up of all of these.
Whilst coconut oil can be enjoyed to the benefit of many healthy dogs, it is advised that dogs which have a history of suffering from pancreatitis should avoid adding extra fats to their diet, as they could trigger an attack.