Original Question: Is coconut oil safe to give to my cat? He loves the taste and suffers from hot spots. Our vet says it’s allergies but I’ve also heard implementing an oil into their diet as a supplement can help? - Kimber
Coconut oil is a medium chain triglyceride. It is not a major source of omega-3 fatty acids which is often used for skin health. A major component of coconut oil is lauric acid which is converted to monolaurin. The compound is known to have activity against viral and bacterial agents. It also acts against fungal agents and creates an anti-inflammatory effect. And in your case, it has been known to provide a barrier in allergic cases. But keep in mind that it is often used as a supportive treatment and not relied upon as the only medicinal agent to control a disease unless it is a mild case or when it happens to achieve significant success beyond what is commonly reported.
It is most commonly used in skin and digestive disorders. One of the benefits of coconut oil for cats is that it has been known to be very successful in treating stubborn cases of skin inflammation (called miliary dermatitis) and for ulcerative conditions caused by the herpes virus. For this reason, you may find success in treating the skin condition your cat is currently experiencing. I would recommend discussing this treatment option as a trial with your veterinarian and having them guide the dosing regime. If they are reluctant to try it, consider getting another opinion. You could also look into being referred to a naturopathic or homeopathic veterinarian if this is an area of medicine you would like to explore as an option.
There are some well-known concerns about the use of coconut oil that are sporadically experienced by pet owners. There are a great deal of reports and research about coconut oil, and how it can be used for a vast array of diseases, but finding credible research is difficult. I would keep in mind the old adage ‘everything in moderation’. I would not use it aggressively but would recommend that you build up the dose over time while closely monitoring the response to it. It has been known to cause pancreatitis, as it is a fat that can be overused. Aside from that, there are not too many more listed side effects or concerns but keep in mind that every animal is an individual and can have sensitivities to anything we expose them to. I would also recommend that you monitor your pet’s response to it with regular testing, such as bloodworm and urine, to make sure that there are no negative reactions occurring internally.
I hope this helps and good luck!
Dr. Clayton Greenway
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