Can Dogs Drink Coconut Milk? (Health Benefits Guide)

can dogs drink coconut milk
Can dogs drink Coconut milk? What about shredded coconut, coconut cream or coconut husk?

In recent years, we’ve seen a surge in consumption for non-dairy products, with substitutes like coconut milk taking the lead. Coconut milk has been known to feature various health benefits, including having a fair amount of healthy fats for our body.

Given the nutrients that coconut milk has, it’s inevitable for some pet owners to wonder if they could share this goodness with their dogs. 

Can Dogs Drink Coconut Milk?

But can dogs drink coconut milk? There is good news is if you’re thinking of switching your dog to coconut milk – the answer is yes, dogs can drink coconut milk – but you should only feed them in moderation.

While coconut milk is typically non-toxic to dogs, it is still known to be high in fat, leading to weight gain and may cause pancreatitis if your dog has had too much coconut milk drink.

Similarly, most coconut-based products should also be safe for your dog’s consumption when fed in moderation. Give them too much? And well… it can be a messy problem.

This article will answer some of your everyday worries on what coconut product your dog can and cannot have. We also cover concerns on what could happen when your puppy has too much coconut products.

Can dogs have coconut?
Can dogs have coconut products? What happens if your puppy eats too much coconut?

The benefits of coconut milk for your dog

While there has been no substantial evidence of dogs enjoying coconut milk before this dairy alternative became popular, it’s fascinating to see how many pet owners have now turned to coconut milk as a replacement for regular milk in a dog’s diet. In fact, just as how coconut milk benefits humans, you’re also likely to see a variety of health benefits that coconut milk can have for your dogs. Among them include: 

  • Adding shine to your dog’s coat
  • Strengthening your dog’s immune system
  • Reduces bad breath issues in your dog
  • Improved dental hygiene and reducing gum diseases

However, it’s important to note that you should try to feed your dogs with organic or all-natural coconut milk. This is because regular coconut milk may contain artificial sweeteners or added sugars. These, in turn, lead to weight gain in many dogs, with associated health issues like pancreatitis or joint trouble. The sweeteners are the worst for dogs – some are toxic!

While it’s OK to occasionally feed your dog canned coconut milk, you should always look into the ingredients list to ensure it does not contain any harmful substances that can be bad for your dog.

puppy at the vet

How to feed your dog coconut milk

Despite its benefits, coconut milk may possess a distinctive aroma that isn’t acceptable to all dogs. If you’re keen to introduce coconut milk into your dog’s diet, here are some ideas on how to feed your dog coconut milk:

  • Feed them as usual: If your dog is comfortable with coconut milk’s taste and aroma, you can feed them with coconut milk as usual and in place of regular milk. Be sure to control the volume of coconut milk they can have, so your dog can reap the benefits of coconut milk without any adverse health implications.
  • Mix it in with their food: Like children, some dogs may be picky eaters, which extends to their dislike for coconut milk. To ease your dog into getting used to coconut milk, you can mix it into their food. This helps them familiarize themselves with the coconut milk’s taste and aroma and reduce their aversion to coconut milk in the long run.
  • Freeze it as a cold treat: In summer, you may try to freeze the coconut milk and feed them to your dog as a cold treat. Subsequently, you could also stuff it into a frozen Kong with some kibbles, making the experience deliciously refreshing for your dog. Who knows, maybe your dog would even think of the frozen coconut milk as ice-cream!

Despite the benefits of coconut milk, you should always aim to keep your dog’s coconut milk or other “treat calorie” consumption to no more than 10% of their regular diet. This helps control your dog’s weight gain and avoid any severe health complications from over-consuming coconut milk.

In some cases, coconut milk or other coconut products may not sit well for your dog’s tummy. This could lead to diarrhea in your dog, although you don’t have to panic when this happens. Suppose the problem persists after a day or 2. In that case, however, it’s recommended that you check-in with your vet for professional advice in case coconut milk isn’t suitable for your dog.

puppy growls when picked up

Can dogs drink coconut water?

Coconut water has been known to carry various nutrients for us humans. It is much enjoyed on a hot summer’s day. Well-known for its cooling and hydrating benefits, coconut water is often hailed the next super drink. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for dogs. They cannot have coconut water. You should avoid feeding your dog coconut water intentionally.

This is as coconut water is known to have high potassium content that could cause health scares like slower heartbeats and, in worst cases, death. Unless you’re enjoying a sip of all-natural coconut water from the fruit itself, many commercial coconut waters may also contain high levels of artificial sweeteners.

These artificial sweeteners are terrible and often toxic to dogs.

While it’s no reason to panic if your dog has accidentally has stolen a small amount of unsweetened natural coconut water, it’s always best to monitor your pup for any adverse effects the drink has on your dog. Some key things to look out for include diarrhea in your dog, or if your dog seems lethargic and ill, it may be best to bring them to a vet for professional advice.

Can I feed my dog coconut yogurt?

Known for its probiotic benefits in humans, many pet owners may wonder if coconut yogurt is OK to be fed to dogs. Typically, the thought is that if the coconut yogurt is good enough for humans, then it should be good enough for dogs.

In general, coconut yogurt is OK to be fed to dogs, but it should only be given moderate amounts. This is as yogurts may contain too much sugar, which can be bad for your dog. Subsequently, the coconut oil in yogurts may also cause loose stools and diarrhea in your dog.

bowls with whipped cream
Create a healthier treat than a puppychino for your dogs out of whipped coconut cream.

Where possible, you should look into giving your dog ‘live’ yogurts as they are the healthiest and contain live probiotics for their gut health.  

When looking to feed your dog yogurt, you must look out for added ingredients harmful to your dog. Artificial sweeteners like xylitol may make your coconut yogurt tastier but can be poisonous to your dog and should be avoided at all costs.

It’s recommended that you look out for coconut yogurts that are plain or naturally flavored instead.

You may also consider making frozen coconut yogurts as a cool treat for your pup on hot days. After all, there’s nothing cooler on a hot summer’s day than to be sitting by the porch with your dog as you enjoy a frozen coconut yogurt together. (You can seven use it as part of a Frozen Kong treat)

mixed color maltipoo wavy puppy
A mixed color apricot and white Maltipoo puppy cuddles. A rare color of coat!

What happens if I feed my dog shredded coconuts?

For humans, shredded coconuts make a great snack. But while you’re rummaging through a pack of shredded coconuts during cooking or some bits fall off a snack during movie night, your dog may stare at you with longing eyes, begging for a bite.

Many pet owners often find it difficult to reject their dog as they beg for a snack, but what happens when you feed your dog with shredded coconuts?

Well, the good news is – nothing really happens, so you don’t have to panic even if you’ve given your dog some. Shredded coconut generally has no added benefits or adverse reaction to dogs, except that it satisfies your dog’s longing to snack on what you’re having.

However, it is recommended that you control the volume of shredded coconut you will feed your dog and stick with 100% shredded coconut. Any processed shredded coconut product may contain high amounts of added sugar and flavorings to make it more flavorful than all-natural shredded coconuts. 

Can my dog have a whole coconut on its own?

Although it seems the most natural way to feed your dog coconut (or raw coconut water –  it is not recommended to feed your dog a whole coconut on its own. This is as the coconut’s husk may not be well processed by your dog’s guts, leading to severe diarrhea and can be dangerous for your pup. The coconut shell would also be too tough on your dog’s teeth, so you may risk damaging your dog’s teeth as it attempts to gnaw through the fruit.

As such, it’s always best for you to deconstruct the coconut if you wish to have your dog enjoy an all-natural coconut. For instance, you may consider breaking the coconut to extract the water and dig out of the flesh separately for your dog.

Remember that you should only do this in moderation as coconut water may not sit too well with your dog’s heart.

Individually, coconut flesh has been known to have high-fat content and can cause your dog to gain weight. While having a fat dog may seem cute, it can be unhealthy for your puppy and should be avoided in the long run. (Did you know that up to 50% of pet dogs in the USA are considered to be overweight or obese?)

leather dog collar
What a good boy! Leather is a durable, stylish and long lasting material for dog collars.

What happens if my dog has too much coconut?

In general, it’s always best to keep your dog’s consumption of all treats (including coconut milk and other natural coconut by-products) to no more than an estimated 10% of their diet (PFMA).

This is because coconut products often contain high-fat content as well lots of calories, which can cause your dogs to gain weight or lead to pancreatitis in more severe cases. Some dogs may also find it difficult to stomach coconut milk, leading to diarrhea, vomiting, or lethargy in a short period. When this happens, you should closely monitor your pup in case of any severe health scares. 

While a visit to the vet isn’t necessary at first contact, you should always consult them in case of a prolonged discomfort in your dog. Discuss with your vet how you could introduce coconut-based products to your dog if you’re still keen to explore the benefits of coconut milk and other coconut products for your dog.

happy cockapoo puppy running
Photo by Ray Larabie /CC BY

Coconut Milk for Dogs Conclusions

While we continue to see a surge in popularity for coconut milk as a replacement for regular dairy products, it’s important to note that you should never force your dog to enjoy coconut milk if they’re not keen on the switch. 

Put simply, dogs don’t need coconut anything. Sure they can have some as a treat if it is safe and suits their stomach – but there is little proven health benefit that the regular balanced diet can’t also meet.

As pet owners, we understand how much other pet parents out there would love to give only the best to their dogs, but it’s also important to respect what your dog enjoys. Luckily, there are still many ways for your dog to enjoy the same benefits through other dietary changes if they dislike coconut milk.