As many more people are turning to the holistic lifestyle, we see an increase in the consumption of more natural foods – including for our pets. This also includes veering away from using a chemical-based medication and switching to more organic alternatives.
One of the most popular options that health buffs have adopted is the use of coconut milk in place of dairy milk. It is a great alternative for lactose intolerant individuals and contains important nutrients like manganese and copper.
Its versatility and great taste make it a great substitute for milk, not to mention that it is also widely available and more reasonably priced than other milk alternatives. As a result, it makes sense to consider feeding coconut milk to our dogs.
And this comes with a valid question: can my dog eat coconut milk?
Coconuts in general are not toxic for dogs so it’s okay for them to consume it and its byproducts, including coconut milk. However, there is a serious caveat: if you ever decide to feed your dog coconut milk, do it in moderation.
Coconut flesh and milk contain certain oils that could trigger loose stools, diarrhea, and stomach upset to canines. This is why the ASPCA (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) cautions dog owners from making it a frequent part of their pet’s diet.
Coconut milk does have benefits if your pooch choose to consume it from time to time. These include:
- Improvement in breath smell
- Healthier immune system
- Adding to coat shine
- Helps in fighting seasonal viruses
This is why various products for dogs are created using coconut. We wrote about the Wickedly Potent Coconut Oil toothpaste and how good it is for dogs, for example.
While there are benefits, we cannot stress enough that you must not give in to your pets when they beg for more coconut milk or coconut milk-laced treats.
Let’s say that your canine has a sturdy stomach and doesn’t develop loose stools or diarrhea from eating coconut milk and chows it down like a champion.
You need to aware that the high-fat content of coconuts can lead to weight gain and, in some cases, pancreatitis in dogs. It’s always best to keep consumption in check
Not all Coco Milks Are Equal!
It might get confusing when you are in the aisle at the grocery store and everything says coconut something and the only thing that you’re sure of is that it’s liquid. There are three versions of coconut milk that you’ll encounter on the shelves.
Coconut Water – It can sometimes be labeled as milk, but this light coconut liquid is derived from young coconuts and has the consistency of water. It is the natural liquid found inside the coconut shells and swirls in between where the pulp is.
Often it is just processed so it can be stored with increased shelf life. In many tropical countries, locals often drink it straight out of the coconut! This makes us understand why some may dub it coconut milk while it is more popularly called coconut water.
Coconut Cream – This thick and rich liquid is derived from mature coconut flesh which is scraped or grated off the shell. The pulp is then soaked in hot water and the froth that rises is skimmed off and packaged as coconut cream.
Coconut Milk – In the same process above for coconut cream, after the thick top has been removed, all remaining pulp is strained through a cheesecloth. The liquid extracted is what many popularly classify as coconut milk. This is closer to milk in form and color-with its classic opaque white hue and smooth texture.
So what type is best for your doggie? If you could choose, coconut water is much friendlier to the canine digestive tract.
However, as stated above, coconut does not have any toxic effect on dogs. Just make sure that you choose the most natural option for your pooch and remember: moderation is key!
Tips for Feeding Your Dog Coconut Milk
If you are seriously considering adding coconut milk to your dog’s diet, here are a few reminders on how to do it properly.
Introduce it gradually
There are schools of thought that say you must make other types of food unavailable so your dog will even taste coconut milk. Just don’t do this.
Allow your furry baby the freedom to check it out and gauge if they like it. If he does take an affinity to coconut milk, don’t be overeager and feed him more.
Stop yourself and allow him only a few ounces and space it between several days. Their tummies need to adjust to it!
If you are adamant about adding a touch of coco milk to your dog’s power diet and he doesn’t like it, you are creative by adding it into homemade dog treats. Making coconut milk ice cubes as treats for a hot day is also a nice alternative as a reward for your pooch.
Unsweetened, Organic Coconut Milk Is Best
While there is an overabundance of coconut milk on the grocery shelves, it is worth our effort to check the ingredients if we are going to share this with our dogs.
Processed coconut milk has additives and sugar that aren’t needed in your dog’s diet. Go as natural as you can when choosing a product that you can share with them.
Beware of “coconut-flavored” drinks as they are usually artificially flavored and not the real deal.
Monitor Bodily Reactions
If your dog likes coconut milk, make sure you check his stool after he ingests it. Also, be keen to notice any sign of lethargy that may be caused by tummy upsets and bloating.
If these crop up you have to lower the portions of coconut milk you’re feeding or consider stopping it altogether. Some dogs may have vomiting episodes as well when the coconut milk doesn’t agree with their system.
Leading vets have cautioned owners that certain dogs have sensitive stomachs by nature and feeding them coconut milk is not recommended.
Some breeds of small dogs such as Yorkies and Terriers are more prone to tummy troubles. If you have senior dogs, be cautious in feeding them coconut milk as well.
Puppies less than a year old must also be given coconut milk only with the guidance of a veterinarian.
Don’t Hesitate to Have Your Dog Checked
In case your pooch is doing poorly after eating coconut milk, don’t hesitate to go to your vet and have your dog checked. Do not wait for dehydration to set in.
While adding coconut milk to your doggy’s diet isn’t imperative, it is a nice option to have. Our dogs can suffer food fatigue and a respite in taste, texture, and flavor in between their favorite food can be a healthy and rewarding change for them.
Just make sure to be observant and note what you feed them. It’s not just about the messy stink that they might leave behind if they go coco-holic! It’s certainly about giving what’s best suited for them.