Coconut is a delicious fruit that many people love. And the best thing? It comes in many different forms. Humans can enjoy raw coconut flesh, coconut milk or water, coconut flakes, and more.
But what about dogs?
If you’re a pet owner who enjoys coconut flakes (or any other coconut food products) and often has them in hand, you may wonder if this is a healthy option for your dog.
The answer is most likely, “Yes”. Most dogs love to eat coconut flakes and can reap many of the same health benefits from them as humans.
In this post, you’ll learn how you can safely allow your pup to enjoy this tasty and natural treat.
Are Coconut Flakes Good for Dogs?
For the most part, coconut flakes are usually safe for most dogs to consume in measured quantities.
However, the medium-chain triglycerides in coconut can potentially cause stomach upset such as bloating and cramping if they eat too much of it.
If you choose to feed your dog coconut flakes, start in small quantities to see how he reacts and work your way up to the recommended amount (which I’ll talk about later).
Also, keep in mind that some products come sweetened, so be careful to only purchase unsweetened coconut. An especially toxic sweetener sometimes added to coconut is xylitol. Keep any food products containing this ingredient away from your dog.
What Are the Benefits of Coconut Flakes?
Similar to their effects on humans, coconut flakes provide a number of health benefits for dogs:
- Coconuts contain lauric acid, a fatty acid that repels fleas. It also has been shown to decrease inflammation, speed wound healing, and alleviate arthritic pain.
- Coconut is loaded with antioxidants that boost the immune system and eliminate toxins from the body.
- In the right amounts, coconut can actually manage your dog’s weight and have a powerful effect on his digestive system and gut health.
- Coconut helps fight off viruses and treats ear yeast infections, which some dog breeds (such as Beagles, Cocker Spaniels, and Poodles) are prone to.
- If your dog has itchy, dry skin or allergies, consuming coconut or applying it topically can soothe his skin and make his coat healthy and glossy.
- Last but not least, coconut can keep your dog’s brain sharp as it’s proven to improve cognitive function and even ward off dementia.
Coconut Flakes vs Shredded coconut
Coconut flakes, shredded coconut, and even desiccated coconut are essentially the same product, but cut into different shapes and have different textures.
Normally, coconut flakes are cut into much larger pieces than shredded and desiccated coconut.
To make shredded coconut, the coconut meat (the inner fleshy white part of the coconut) is boiled, grated into short, thin strips, and dried.
Desiccated coconut is also boiled coconut flesh, but is more finely ground than shredded coconut. However, it differs from coconut flour because it contains more fat and moisture.
In terms of health benefits for your dog, these three products are about the same. You just want to be sure you’re choosing unsweetened coconut to avoid adding too much sugar to your dog’s diet.
What About Coconut Chips?
Coconut chips are the most different product of the four. They’re marketed as a healthy substitute for potato chips, and they’re basically large sliced pieces of coconut flesh, or coconut flakes, which are baked, like chips.
They almost always have added ingredients, such as oil, salt, and sugar, so it’s best to avoid feeding these to your dog.
If you’d like to make your own chips by baking coconut flakes without adding any ingredients, that would be a safe version of chips for your dog.
Otherwise, simply purchase the cleanest product you can — organic and without any additives is best.
K9 Granola Factory makes very high-quality organic coconut flakes for dogs, without any additives or artificial ingredients.
Of course, a little taste of sweetened coconut every now and then is fine (as long as it’s not sweetened with xylitol), but if you plan to regularly feed your pet coconut, stick to the unsweetened stuff.
Besides, sweetened coconut tends to be moister, while unsweetened is usually chewier and dryer. You may want to take this into consideration if your pup has any dental issues that could make chewing difficult.
How Much Coconut Flakes Should Dogs Eat?
Too much fat can cause weight gain or a stomachache, and although it’s the healthy kind of fat, coconut contains a lot of it.
While you want your dog to get all the benefits from coconut, you don’t want to overdo it. As with any new food, start by introducing coconut flakes gradually.
For example, try sprinkling a few of them on top or mixed in with his food to see how he reacts. If he likes it, you can slowly work your way up to a teaspoon a day for small dogs and a tablespoon a day for large dogs.
How to Make Coconut Flakes Cookies for Dogs?
Another good way to incorporate coconut flakes into your dog’s diet is to feed him homemade coconut cookies.
You’ll need one cup of natural peanut butter, one cup of coconut oil, one pinch of cinnamon, and three tablespoons of coconut flakes or shredded coconut.
In a double boiler, combine the peanut butter, coconut oil, and cinnamon and stir until melted and blended smoothly together. Remove from heat and stir in the coconut flakes.
Then, use a spoon to fill silicone treat molds with the liquid mixture. You can even top the treats with more coconut flakes if you’d like.
Place the treats in the freezer until they’re firm. Once they’re solid, you can feed them to your dog right away and store the extras in the refrigerator.
These treats also make a nice gift for other pet lovers, but make sure they stay refrigerated so they don’t melt.