Let me first admit that I apply organic coconut oil to my 18-month-old daughter’s skin almost daily. I started doing this after her pediatrician recommended it for her dry, sensitive skin when she was about 4 weeks old. I noticed an improvement almost immediately and we definitely notice when we skip a day. I often also now refer to her as my little pina colada, but that’s beside the point.

So that piqued my interest in the benefits of coconut oil for my patients. I love having inexpensive, safe, natural remedies to help alleviate some of our most common problems, like itchy skin! Could coconut oil be another tool in my toolbox!?

Unfortunately… no. And here is why:

  1. Coconut oil is lacking the essential fatty acids (EFAs) that your chronically itchy dog’s skin is also lacking.
  2. Specifically, these fatty acids are: Lineolic and arachidonic (Omega 6s) fatty acids, and Alpha-linoleic, Eicosapentaenoic, docohexanoic (Omega 3s) fatty acids.
  3. These essential (aka required) fatty acids are found in many sources of fats and oils.
  4. For example, corn oil has 53.2% lineolic acid compared to only 1.7% in coconut oil. Flaxseed oil has 48.9% alpha-linoleic acid compared to coconut oil’s 0.02%.
    -NOTE: I am not recommending you start adding corn oil to your dog’s food. Otherwise we will likely have another problem to address: Diarrhea!
  5. Fish oils (sardine and salmon) have the highest percentage of Omega 3s and 6s — which is what is most important for your dog’s skin health.
  6. Coconut oil only contains 1.7% linoleic acid and 0.02% alpha-linoleic acid, and 0% of the other fatty acids.

The numbers are great, but, WHY are these fatty acids crucial to alleviating your dog’s itch? Because the fatty acids that are found in fish oil are the building blocks of your dog’s skin. They make up the barrier that protects it from being susceptible to all the allergens in their environment. They are also precursors to many of the chemicals in their body that regulate inflammation.

FYI: inflamed skin = itchy skin.

The unfortunate fact remains that coconut oil does not have these essential fatty acids. So the benefits are just not there.

So yes, I will continue to do as my pediatrician recommended and buy jars of coconut oil from Aldi for my own little pina colada… but I will not be recommending that anyone does the same for my own patients!

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