Coconut Oil in Raw Feeding

April 12, 2022

It is often said that coconut oil is an inferior fat source in a pet's homemade diet or that coconut oil should generally be avoided because there are "better options" out there (whatever that means). And while I can agree that I am biased to including raw animal fat ahead of plant fats in my raw fed dogs' meals, is coconut oil really as evil as some make it out to be? What about some of the far reaching claims that coconut oil is the solution to all of your pets' problems (physical & dietary)?

Let's take a closer look...

Coconut Oil's Composition

Coconut oil differed from other fats and oils, in that it was found to be composed predominantly of medium chain triglycerides (MCTs).

The composition of virgin coconut oil (VCO) is mainly comprised of saturated fats as follows:
Lauric acid (45% to 52%)
Myristic acid (16% to 21%)
Palmitic acid (7% to 10%)
Caprylic acid (5% to 10%)
Capric acid ( 4% to 8%)
Stearic acid (2% to 4%)
Caproic acid (0.5% to 1%)
Palmitoleic acid

and unsaturated fats as follows:
Oleic acid (5% to 8%)
Linoleic acid (1% to 3%)
Linolenic acid (up to 0.2%)

Generally, saturated fats are solid at room temperature because the fatty acid chain has no double bonds between the carbon atoms of the chain (i.e. butter), and unsaturated fats have double bonds between the carbon atoms at some points in their chains, thus behaving more as a liquid at room temperature (i.e. vegetable oil).

With a majority composition of saturated fats, virgin coconut oil is solid at room temperature, though it will easily liquify with little added heat due to its unsaturated content.

When ingested, VCO is going to be in liquid form since internal body temperatures are generally ~98.6°F which is above its melting point.

Can I feed Coconut Oil to meet my dog or cat's daily EPA/DHA needs?

Virgin coconut oil does not contain EPA or DHA omega-3 fatty acids, which are normally found in marine plants and the marine animals that ingest them.

VCO does contain a shorter chain omega-3 fatty acid, α-linolenic acid (ALA), but it does not provide the health benefits seen with EPA and DHA. Although it is possible for the body to convert ALA to EPA and DHA by elongase and desaturase enzymes, research suggests that only a small amount can be synthesised in the body from this process (Neff 2011), therefore coconut oil should not be relied on to meet your pet’s daily EPA/DHA needs

Potential Benefits of Coconut Oil

Beyond its usage in cooking, coconut oil has attracted attention due to its alleged hypocholesterolemic, anticancer, anti-hepatosteatotic, antidiabetic, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and skin moisturizing properties.

These properties and their respective literature is summarised in the table below.

Anticonvulsant Effects of MCT Oil?

Another reported benefit of using virgin coconut oil as a dietary supplement in dogs is reduction of idiopathic epilepsy episodes.

Recent data demonstrates the addition of MCTs found in virgin coconut oil, which provide the medium chain fatty acids octanoic and decanoic acid, as well as, ketone bodies as auxiliary brain energy, can be beneficial in rodent seizure models, and dogs & humans with epilepsy (Han 2021, See Table 2 below). 

Both experimental study designs and case studies on epileptic rodents, dogs, and humans fed MCTs show promising anticonvulsant effects, however no major conclusion can be drawn with the level of scientific evidence out there at this point.

Though, it is definitely worth noting that pharmacological anticonvulsant medication has side effects on the nervous system that can prohibit certain humans/dogs from using them and thus alternative options such as MCTs have to be considered. 


Virgin coconut oil (VCO) is a versatile oil rich in saturated medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) that have a variety of known uses across many cultures. Increasingly, scientific inquiries into the medical benefits of VCO and its key components are leading to promising results in terms of pro-metabolic regulation, pro-cardiac, anticancer, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and anticonvulsant effects.

As with many non-pharmacological/natural agents with promising health benefits, the scientific research into these topics is still very young and not robust enough to determine if there is enough evidence to say whether or not we can rely on virgin coconut oil for these effects. 

Additionally, when it comes to homemade diets for pets, opting for coconut oil as a source of fat is perfectly safe to do. There are several instances in which it may even be recommended to feed plant fats instead of animal fat. Two such examples are in the event of food allergies or intolerances- if a pet cannot safely consume certain proteins, raw fat from the those same proteins would also need to be omitted. Coconut oil could be a safe alternative if pet parents do not wish to include carbohydrates or cannot source another safe protein with raw fat. Another example would be balanced cooked diets- cooked fat should not be fed to dogs or cats because it can lead to pancreatitis. If raw fat cannot be supplied for any given reason and carbohydrates are again being avoided, a plant fat like coconut oil would also be a safe alternative.

There are countless other examples that could be given to illustrate why plant fats are perfectly safe to feed and even beneficial dependant on the individual pet's needs, but we do not have an eternity to dive into each and every instance.


Please consult physicians/veterinarians, and/or other trustworthy science-based sources for advice on human and animal dietary questions.

As always, I hope this post was helpful!

Follow me on instagram @nolorlin for more raw feeding content & recipes!


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