Benefits of Adding Healthy Oils to Your Dog's Diet

Guest Blogger, Dr. Greg Martinez Dvm, provides a veterinarian's point-of-view on the benefits of healthy oils to our dogs.

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 Joe's.) I started with one teaspoon for myself, and one half teaspoon to my four-legged, ten pounder pups and a whole teaspoon for my sixty pound lab several times per week. I always recommend starting with a small amount of any fat to make sure pets can tolerate it. (Especially pets with sensitive guts or pancreatitis!!)

Coconut oil is known to provide a host of benefits, and may help the body fight off viruses, bacteria, and yeast  and is great for animals with skin issues. It may also help the thyroid gland and pancreas work better which is particularly helpful for many dogs with low thyroid problems or diabetes. Daily use of coconut oil may also encourage weight loss by improving thyroid function while help to 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 you feed your dogs, decreasing the number of special treats you give your pups, and increasing the amount of exercise they receive are all important to maintaining your dogs' ideal weigh!)

Because coconut oil is gaining in popularity and because I have clients of my own who have added cocount oil to their dog's diet and reported positive results to their dogs' chronic skin problems, I became convinced to do my own research and try it on myself and my pets! Needless to say, we are all enjoying the benefits.

But, a question I get a lot is, "Why would I need to add healthy oils to my dog's food if all commercial pet foods are complete and balanced?"  Here's the answer.  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 a top-shelf, expensive food. Experience has taught me that all animals are unique individuals with different needs. Some dogs may feel and look better eating a hypoallergenic diet - one that's free of common allergens in the diet like wheat, barley, beef, or chicken. Other dogs 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) while adding healthy oils added to the diet as a supplement.

I’ve seen clients improve 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 their dog's diet they've worked to improve. 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!

So, in addition to being mindful of all that you provide your dog(s) to consume - from the quality of their dog food to the kinds of special treats you mix in to supplements, keep in mind that adding healthy oils, like coconut oil, to Fido's diet can help make a good diet better.

For more information, check out my website, Dog Dish Diet, for my blogs and books, Dog Dish Diet (education about diets, ingredients, and medical issues and one slow cooking recipe) and Feed Your Pet to Avoid the Vet (intro to slow cooking for your dog and cat).