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If you’re the human companion to a dog who sheds a lot, you might be desperate for a way to stop the flying fur. The internet is full of great-sounding solutions like coconut oil for dog shedding. But does it actually work?

Coconut oil is a hot topic in natural health care for pets and humans. A few of the reasons this tropical oil risen in popularity recently:

  • Natural Option: People like it because it’s natural and seems safer than chemicals.
  • Versatile Uses: It has many applications including soothing and moisturizing dog paws, noses, and coats.
  • Popular Tales: Online stories praise its benefits for dogs, making more people curious.
  • Easy Availability: You can find coconut oil almost everywhere.

I’ve been asked by my clients a number of times about coconut oil for dog shedding. In fact, it does have some benefits for dog skin but it also has some limitations you may not be aware of.


  • Coconut oil is safe for moderate topical and oral use in dogs. 
  • Coconut oil is a good skin moisturizer with soothing effects and mild anti-bacterial properties.
  • Topical use of coconut oil provides more benefits for dog shedding than dietary use of the oil. 

How to Use Coconut Oil for Dog Shedding

I like Nutiva Organic Coconut Oil. It’s organic, edible, smells great and people can use it, too!

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Coconut oil is generally safe for both topical and oral use in dogs. But you need to make sure they don’t ingest too much as this can lead to gastrointestinal upset. 

The best use of coconut oil is topical application to your dog’s skin. Here’s a guide to help you determine the appropriate amount based on their size.

Application MethodSmall Dogs (up to 15 lbs)Medium Dogs (16-50 lbs)Large Dogs (51 lbs and up)
General Skin Moisturizing1/4 teaspoon1/2 teaspoon1 teaspoon
After Bath Softening1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon1/2 to 1 teaspoon1 to 2 teaspoons
Inflamed EarsA few drops1/4 teaspoon1/2 teaspoon
Minor Skin Irritations or WoundsA dab (size of a pea)1/4 teaspoon1/2 teaspoon

Notes for Safe Use

  • The amounts provided are just starting points. Adjust as necessary depending on your dog’s needs and reactions.
  • Always observe your dog’s skin after applying coconut oil. If irritation occurs, rinse off the oil and consult your vet.
  • Some dogs may try to lick off the oil. To prevent this, you might want to distract your dog for a while after application.
  • Remember, always start with a small amount and see how your dog’s skin reacts before fully adopting any new skincare routine.

Coconut Oil’s Topical Magic: Soothing Dry Skin and Irritations

Coconut oil is a versatile skin remedy known for its moisturizing effects. Used topically, it can act as a natural emollient for your dog’s skin, making it soft and supple. Dog owners have good results applying it to dry, callused areas such as noses, elbows and foot pads.

You can use it as a natural fur conditioner and perfume after your dog’s bath. Coconut oil can also offer relief for inflamed ears, as demonstrated in the video above.


YouTube player

Beyond moisturizing, coconut oil possesses mild antimicrobial properties. When applied to minor skin irritations or small wounds, it may support faster healing. 

Be aware that every dog is unique and some might experience sensitivity to coconut oil. It’s always a good idea to watch for any irritation on your dog’s skin and, if in doubt, seek guidance from your vet.

Normal vs. Abnormal Dog Shedding

dog shedding

Before you treat your dog’s shedding with remedies like coconut oil, it’s important to know the difference between normal and abnormal shedding.

Most dogs shed to some degree but some breeds, like Labrador Retrievers, Great Danes and Pugs naturally shed more. Other factors like artificial light stimulate year-round shedding in indoor dogs.

However, symptoms like bald spots, rashes, or scabs are red flags for possible medical issues. If you’re worried about excessive shedding, consult your vet for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

Dietary Coconut Oil: Does it Really Reduce Dog Shedding?

spoon with coconut oil and opened coconut (coconut oil for dog shedding)

Everyone’s raving about coconut oil, both for themselves and their pets. When applied directly to your dog’s skin, coconut oil is a good moisturizer with mild antimicrobial effects. And with healthier skin, dogs might shed less.

But what about adding coconut oil to your dog’s diet? While it’s safe to do so, it may not be the best choice of oils to promote skin health.

Here’s why: Dogs need essential fatty acids (EFAs) for a healthy coat and skin. Unfortunately, coconut oil isn’t rich in the EFAs dogs require.

So, why are EFAs so important? Let’s discuss it…

Understanding Essential Fatty Acids for Dog Skin Health

For optimal skin health, dogs require certain nutrients in their diet, one of which is essential fatty acids (EFAs). These EFAs are crucial as dogs can’t produce them on their own. A lack of these fats can lead to symptoms like scaly skin, hair loss, matted hair, and a dull coat.

While coconut oil is celebrated for its health benefits, it doesn’t contain the necessary range of EFAs for canine skin health.(7) You might be surprised to learn that corn oil and canola oil are richer sources of these essential nutrients. (2,3,4

Therefore, while coconut oil is beneficial topically, it can’t provide the EFAs dogs need for their overall skin health.

coconut oil for dog shedding infographic

Fish Oil vs. Coconut Oil: Which is Best for Your Dog’s Skin Health?

Both fish oil and coconut oil offer benefits for dogs, but in different ways.

Fish oil, rich in omega-3 fatty acids, has been shown to reduce skin allergy symptoms and support overall skin health when taken orally. (1,6

Coconut oil, on the other hand, is great for topical use, combating dryness and irritation. However, it lacks the omega-3s found in fish oil and isn’t as effective as a dietary supplement for skin health. (7)

Fish oil is used orally (not topically) and can be mixed into your dog’s food. Results can be noticeable after a month or so of using the supplement.

My favorite fish oil supplement for dogs is Nordic Naturals Omega-3 Pet

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Other Ways to Improve Your Dog’s Skin Health

While topical applications and dietary supplements play a role, the foundation of your dog’s skin health is really their regular diet.

Quality Food is Key

Ensure your dog’s food adheres to AAFCO nutritional guidelines and matches their life stage (like adult or puppy food).

Fresh Food Matters

Check expiration dates. Fresh ingredients mean higher nutritional value. For optimum benefits, use dry dog food within a few weeks of purchase.

Specialized Options for Skin Health

For dogs with sensitive skin or those prone to shedding, consider foods specifically formulated with high levels of EFAs. For instance, Purina Pro Plan® Sensitive Skin & Stomach Salmon & Rice is designed with plenty of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids.

Always keep in mind, that while coconut oil offers some benefits for topical skin health, providing a balanced diet should be prioritized for the best outcome.


Q: How often to apply coconut oil to dog fur?

A: You should apply coconut oil to your dog’s fur in moderation, try using it twice a month. More frequent application may leave your dog’s coat too oily. Avoid applying excessive amounts since it can cause stomach upset when licked off by your dog.

Q: Can I rub coconut oil all over my dog?

A: Yes, you can rub coconut oil all over your dog’s body for moisturizing benefits.

Q: How long should I leave coconut oil on my dog’s fur?

A: After applying coconut oil to your dog’s fur, it’s best to let it sit for at least ten minutes before rinsing. This allows the oil to penetrate and moisturize the skin and coat effectively.

Conclusion: Balancing Popular Trends with Evidence-Based Care

In the ever-evolving world of pet care, coconut oil has certainly carved a niche for itself as a multifaceted remedy. Its topical benefits for dogs include moisturizing dry skin and soothing minor skin irritation. 

But it’s important for pet owners to realize that while coconut oil is a valuable tool in a holistic pet care regimen, it isn’t a cure-all. 

Addressing issues like shedding or skin health holistically, with a balanced diet and other essential fatty acid sources, ensures that our doggos not only look their best but feel their best too.

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Related Posts

  1. Bauer, J. E. (2011). Therapeutic use of fish oils in companion animals. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 239(11), 1441-1451.
  2. Boateng, L., Ansong, R., Owusu, W., & Steiner-Asiedu, M. (2016). Coconut oil and palm oil’s role in nutrition, health and national development: A review. Ghana medical journal, 50(3), 189-196.
  3. Fat Chart & Nutritional Analysis: Canola oil. good for every body! Canola Info. (n.d.). Retrieved February 10, 2022, from https://www.canolainfo.org/health/fat-chart-and-nutritional-analysis.php 
  4. Ghazani, S. M., & Marangoni, A. G. (2016). Nutrition and food grains in Encyclopedia of Food Grains.
  5. Hand MS, Thatcher CD, Remillard RL, Roudebush P, eds. Small Animal Clinical Nutrition, 4th ed. Marceline, MO: Mark Morris Institute; 2000:725–881.
  6. Saevik, B. K., Bergvall, K., Holm, B. R., SAIJONMAA‐KOULUMIES, L. E., HEDHAMMAR, Å., Larsen, S., & Kristensen, F. (2004). A randomized, controlled study
  7. Gervajio, G. C. (2005). Fatty acids and derivatives from coconut oil. Bailey’s industrial oil and fat products, 6(6).
  8. AAFCO METHODS FOR SUBSTANTIATING NUTRITIONAL ADEQUACY OF DOG AND CAT FOODS. (2023). In aafco.org. Association of American Feed Control Officials. Retrieved August 8, 2023, from https://www.aafco.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/Pet_Food_Report_Annual_2014-Appendix_A-Revised_AAFCO_Nutrient_Profiles-Final_092214.pdf