You almost certainly have a container of olive oil in your kitchen cupboard right now. It’s extremely useful in the culinary world, and is generally considered a healthy food, offering us good fats, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory properties. The question is, do those health benefits translate to our canine friends? Is olive oil good for dogs?
The answer is yes, olive oil is generally safe for dogs and can benefit their health in several ways. Of course, as is the case with any foreign substance that isn’t a part of your dog’s normal diet, some precautions must be taken when feeding your dog olive oil.
Read on for more information about the benefits of olive oil for dogs, the risks involved, and how to give your pup olive oil safely.
The Benefits of Olive Oil for Dogs
Olive oil helps dogs in several ways by providing nutrients like omega–3 fatty acids, monounsaturated fats, and antioxidants such as vitamin E. For your dog, that results in benefits to the skin and fur, body weight, and cognitive and immune function.
Skin and Coat Health
Thanks to the fatty acids and antioxidants found in olive oil, it can be very beneficial for your dog’s skin and coat of fur. Olive oil helps keep the skin properly moisturized with the right nutrients, and that leads to a smooth, shiny, and healthy coat. In fact, most dog foods include fatty acids for this exact reason.
If your dog suffers from dry skin, you might try adding a bit of olive oil to their regular diet to help moisturize the skin from the inside out. Extra virgin olive oil is recommended for this purpose, as it contains lower levels of acid than regular olive oil. And remember: It’s always best to check with your veterinarian first before trying at-home health remedies.
Ingredients in olive oil also have anti-inflammatory properties, so olive oil and other oils like sunflower or coconut oil are sometimes recommended for dogs with topical allergies. This may be a good way to help your dog feel some relief from the constant irritation and itching associated with allergies — ask your veterinarian if olive oil might work for your pup’s itchy skin.
Proper Body Weight
Did you know that feeding your dog a bit of olive oil can actually help them lose weight? Monounsaturated fats in olive oil help to break down fat cells, preventing your pup from packing on excess pounds.
Don’t try to help your dog lose weight without consulting your veterinarian first. It can actually be dangerous for a dog to lose too much weight too quickly.
Immune System Function and Overall Health
Thanks to antioxidants like vitamin E, chlorophyll, carotenoids, and polyphenols found in olive oil, it actually helps boost your dog’s immune system and readies it to fight off disease. Antioxidants can protect Fido’s cell membranes from damage by free radicals, ultimately protecting against various health issues like diabetes, tissue damage, and cardiovascular disease. Antioxidants even work to fight off dementia, and may help your dog to avoid cognitive decline as they get older.
The Risks of Too Much Olive Oil
So, olive oil offers multiple benefits to your dog’s health, including coat quality, immune system function, weight control, and disease prevention. But does it come with any risks?
Yes, too much olive oil can be a bad thing. It could upset your pup’s stomach, and it adds a lot of calories and fat to your dog’s diet.
It’s possible for olive oil to upset the gastrointestinal tract of some dogs, especially those with sensitive stomachs. And olive oil can actually act as a laxative because it stimulates the digestive system.
All of this means that too much olive oil can result in diarrhea. It’s also possible for your dog to experience vomiting if too much is consumed. Stop giving your pooch olive oil at once if he or she is experiencing vomiting or diarrhea, and let your vet know if the problem persists.
Olive oil is full of healthy fats, but too much of any fat isn’t a good thing. Just one teaspoon of olive oil contains more than 100 calories, so a lot of olive oil over time could lead to weight gain. And an overabundance of olive oil at one time could result in a very dangerous case of pancreatitis, so it’s important to keep the serving size small.
How to Give Your Dog Olive Oil
How can you give your dog olive oil safely so that it offers your canine companion the maximum benefit without any risk? Here are a few tips on feeding your dog olive oil:
- Use extra virgin olive oil. This type of olive oil has a lower acid content than other olive oils and has a fresher taste. So, it’s the one that your dog is most likely to enjoy.
- Keep the portion size small. Follow this rule of thumb: Give your dog no more than one teaspoon of olive oil per 20 pounds. So, a 30-40 pound dog shouldn’t get more than two teaspoons with a meal, while an 80-pound dog could get a tablespoon of olive oil or more and be fine.
- Stir it into Fido’s food. Pour the olive oil over your dog’s meal and stir it in. It’s not worth trying to add olive oil directly to your dog’s skin or fur — your dog will probably just try to lick it off, and it might very well leave you with a mess to clean up.
You don’t have to give your dog olive oil with every single meal. In fact, that might introduce too many calories and fats to your dog’s diet. Adding a bit of olive oil to your dog’s wet or dry food now and then, though, is perfectly acceptable.
Olive oil isn’t the only type of oil that can benefit your four-legged friend. Coconut oil and fish oil are also good for your pup, so try switching between these oil types to give your pup’s health a little boost.
Keep this in mind: Just because something has “oil” in the name doesn’t mean it’s good for your dog. Tea tree oil and other essential oils, for instance, can prove very dangerous for your dog. And there are plenty of common human foods that should never be fed to your furry friend. Check out our list of surprising poisonous foods for dogs to make sure your pup doesn’t eat something they shouldn’t.
Is Olive Oil Good for Dogs, or Not Worth the Trouble?
Olive oil is good for dogs and can offer benefits like better immune system and brain function, weight control, and skin and fur health. As long as you don’t overdo it, adding a small drizzle of olive oil to your dog’s meal now and again is a good way to spice up your dog’s routine and benefit their health at the same time.
If you’re ever unsure about giving your dog a food meant for humans, always check with your vet. It’s better to play it safe than cleaning up a mess later.
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