Can dogs eat coconut? It’s a question our canine dietary experts are asked all the time here at Canine Weekly, and one we’re always happy to answer the affirmative.
Yes, it’s perfectly safe for dogs to eat coconut.
In fact, not only is it safe, it can also be good for them, with your average coconut packing in plenty of nutrients and minerals that do our four-legged friends the world of good.
Still, that doesn’t mean that your beloved buddy can begin gorging themselves on the sweet stuff. As with most things in life, too much of a good thing can actually do more harm, and it always pays to know what you’re doing before you let your pooch loose with their favourite coconut treats.
Below, we’ll look at all of the different types of coconut-based foods that are suitable for canines, the most appropriate amount to give them, and what to look out for to keep your furry friend safe.
Can Dogs Eat Coconut? Our Guide:
As a general rule, dogs can eat coconut meat safely, but it pays to ensure they only have a small amount.
Coconut contains what are known as Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs), and although these are harmless in small doses, too much MCTs in your dog’s diet could cause bloating and abdominal pain.
While fresh, raw coconut is always better, it is safe to feed them dried coconut chips, but if you’re going to do this, make sure it’s an unsweetened variety such as Trader Joe’s Organic Unsweetened Coconut Chips as the kind of sugars used in sweetened varieties can be harmful to dogs.
Can Dogs Eat Coconut Shell?
While the meat is generally harmless in small doses, it’s best to keep your hungry pal from devouring the coconut shell as these can easily become a choking hazard.
Even if they manage to swallow the coconut shell without choking, those sharp pieces can be indigestible and, as you can imagine, this can make your pet very sick.
At best, it can make it difficult for them to go to the potty comfortably. At worst, it can cause severe abdominal pain, bloating, and even vomiting.
If your dog does accidentally eat coconut shell, be sure to contact your vet for advice on what to do.
Coconut oil is known to be so good for dogs that brands like Alpha Pet Zone make special Pet-friendly coconut oil blends designed to help keep them healthy and heal all kinds of ailments.
Of course, you don’t have to buy them a special blend. The kind of everyday oil you have in your kitchen cupboard will prove just as good at helping your prized pup to maintain a healthy coat, improve their skin, and even ensure they have strong, clean teeth.
A small amount of non-hydrogenated coconut oil mixed in with their food (or even fed directly from a spoon) can also help clear up all manner of canine skin conditions, promote weight loss, and keep fleas and ticks at bay.
As if that wasn’t enough, coconut oil has always been known to prevent gas in dogs and improve gut health.
If you’re wondering whether dogs can drink coconut milk, we’ve got some good news for you:
They certainly can.
Coconut milk is often used in plant-based dog foods but can prove just as beneficial when served in place of regular dairy milk come dinner time.
The same rules apply here:
Feed them small amounts so as not to give them an upset tummy, and if you’re giving them pure coconut milk, make sure it’s an unsweetened variety such as Native Forest Simple Organic Unsweetened Coconut Milk as sugars and sweeteners can be harmful.
Follow those simple rules, and you’ll find that a little bit of coconut milk can go a long way in promoting healthy immune and respiratory systems, as well as proving beneficial as part of a regular canine coat care routine.
Coconut Ice Cream
It doesn’t take a genius to work out that coconut ice cream is typically made from coconut milk. So, if the milk is safe for your sweet-toothed pooch, it goes without saying that the ice cream should be OK too, right?
While ice cream may seem like the perfect treat to keep them cool on a hot summer’s day, most varieties -including coconut ice creams- tend to be loaded with harmful sugars.
At best, this can cause them to gain weight, at worst, it could be toxic and make them ill.
Even if you find a variety of ice cream that says it doesn’t use sugars, you’ll still want to check the ingredients. Some varieties use a substance called xylitol to create the sweet taste of ice cream and the American Kennel Association tells us that this can cause fatal xylitol poisoning in our precious companions.
While coconut ice cream may be off the menu, coconut water is certainly on. It’s safe, tasty, and, like other healthy, dog-friendly fruits such as watermelon, is packed full of vitamins and nutrients.
Unfortunately, it’s also full of carbs, and while that may make it a great choice for high-energy dogs to replenish and rehydrate after a good work out, it does mean that you’ll want to be sure that too much coconut water doesn’t lead to them piling on the pounds.
Stick to small amounts, and you’ll find this to be a refreshing treat that helps them to stay cool on hot days, refreshes them after a long walk, and even boosts their energy levels.
If you and your pet are still upset about the no ice cream thing, then you both may be happy to hear that coconut yogurt is definitely OK and often makes a good -though perhaps not as chilly- alternative to good, old-fashioned ice cream.
Of course, if you’ve read this far, then you probably know what we’re going to say next:
Feed them in moderation and stick to unsweetened varieties to prevent them from getting sick.
Do that, and you’ll likely find that even a small amount of coconut yogurt can be really helpful in preventing all kinds of digestion problems in dogs.
Treats made from natural, organic options like Bob’s Red Mill Coconut Flour tend to be packed with protein and rich in iron while being low in sugars and carbs.
All told, this makes them a great choice for feeding to diabetic dogs and often proves to help them maintain healthy blood pressure.
Coconut flour also tends to be gluten-free, making it ideal for dogs with gluten allergies, and is full of the kind of healthy fats that can help bolster their energy levels.
What’s the Best Way to Feed Coconut to Dogs?
If you’ve read this far, then you’ve likely made your own mind up about the best way to feed coconut to your dog, but if you want our advice, we recommend pure, raw coconut meat with the shell removed as it provides ample proteins and carbohydrates that can be useful for maintaining their energy levels and helping them to grow big and strong.
That’s just for starters. Coconut meat is also full of useful antioxidants which support their immune system, creating an extra layer of defense against harmful bacteria, parasites, and viruses.
It also boasts anti-inflammatory properties which can improve dry, itchy skin conditions and fight away fleas.
The best part, however, is that pure, raw coconut doesn’t have any of the harmful sugars or any other ingredients that could end up making them sick, meaning that of all the different ways you could potentially feed coconut to your dog, the natural stuff is still the best.
Can Dogs Eat Coconut? The Final Word
To cut a long story short then, yes, dogs can eat coconut perfectly safely in almost all forms, providing they do so in small amounts and providing you stop feeding it to them altogether if it turns out to give them an upset tummy.
That’s one of the two key things we want you to take away from this guide, that a little goes a long way, and even a small amount of coconut can help them stay fit and healthy in all kinds of important ways.
The other key thing to take away today is that while coconut itself is perfectly harmless in small doses, it’s often the other ingredients added to coconut-based products that make them harmful.
For example, excess sugars or sweeteners such as xylitol are the main reason why feeding your dog coconut ice cream is such a bad idea, and also the reason why we recommend that if you do buy store-bought products, you look for natural, unsweetened versions to ensure they get all of the wonderful health benefits of coconut with none of the unfortunate drawbacks.
Forrest is a lover of dogs, the wild outdoors, deep mysterious conversations… and coffee. He is the owner of several websites, including Canine Weekly. He resides in Austin, Texas.