Olive Oil For Dogs: Is It Good For Them?
Olive oil has long transcended the boundaries of the kitchen that this type of oil is now also used in different applications primarily for its many health benefits. One very interesting usage of olive oil is in a number of canine health conditions. And while there are still some of those that may consider the use of olive oil on dogs to be nothing more than the inherent tendency of man to extend every aspect of his being to that of his trusted four-legged companion, there are now growing numbers of pet parents who can readily support such claims. So, is olive oil really good for dogs? Let’s take a look at some of the more important benefits of olive oil for dogs.
One of the most important and easily recognizable benefits of olive oil on man’s best friend is an improvement in the dog’s coat. It doesn’t really matter if your pet comes with a short coat or a long and wavy coat. The point is that your dog will benefit so much from olive oil when it comes to promoting and maintaining the high-gloss, robust, and healthy look of its fur.
The antioxidants that olive oil contains are the key ingredients to the oil’s remarkable hair health benefits. Given that each hair is made up of tens of thousands of individual cells that are subjected to oxidative stress, adding antioxidants into your dog’s diet can help improve the way these cells are able to ward off oxidation. In other words, each strand of fur on your dog’s body is protected from cell damage brought about by free radicals.
There are Vitamin E, omega-3 essential fatty acids, and phytochemicals in olive oil, too. These substances also provide anti-inflammatory benefits which can further help strengthen the roots of the individual fur. Adding olive oil into your dog’s diet should help repair flaky and dry skin while also paving the way for hair’s optimum hydration. This can help strengthen the hair and minimize shedding.
So, to answer your question “how much olive oil should I give to my dog to help with shedding?”, you can always start with a teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil for every 30 to 40 pounds of your pet’s body weight to be mixed into its food twice a day.
For instance, if you have a 20-lb dog, then you will only need to mix half a teaspoon of olive oil into your dog’s food twice every day. Don’t expect the improvements to be immediately noticeable, however. Depending on the severity of your dog’s shedding tendencies, the earliest you can expect results will be about 2 weeks from the time you first gave your dog olive oil.
We also recommend giving only extra virgin olive oil since it is less acidic than ordinary olive oil. This makes it more palatable for your dog.
More Robust Skin
Just as olive oil is beneficial for a dog’s coat, it is also important in maintaining and promoting a more robust, healthier skin. Come to think of it, healthy coat starts with healthy skin.
The visible part of the dog’s hair is known as the hair shaft, much like what we humans have. What we don’t see buried deep into the dermal layer of the skin is the hair follicle which is considered to be the only biochemically-active or “living” portion of hair. In other words, the hair that we see sticking out from our skin and that of our dog is, quite frankly, “dead” already; not really dead, but biochemically-inactive.
However, given the fact that the “visible” hair still has a purpose, the hair follicle continues to support the hair shaft. It has sebaceous glands that secrete sebum to continue lubricating the outermost layer of the hair.
The hair follicle receives its nutrients from the cells of the dermis in the skin. As such, improving the health of the skin will also result in an improvement in the dog’s hair or fur.
Not only is olive oil good for promoting healthier skin, it is also good for alleviating skin problems such as itching and dryness. So, how much olive oil for dogs dry skin should you give? There are two ways you can help address skin dryness and itching. The first method is by giving the same dosage that we talked about in the preceding section – a teaspoon for every 30 to 40 lbs of body weight twice a day. Unfortunately, you cannot expect any results until about 2 to 4 weeks after the olive oil administration.
The second method offers faster results in as short as 5 to 7 days. You will need to get a cup of water. To this, you’ll need to add 5 to 10 drops of extra virgin olive oil and try to mix; although it would be clearly impossible since water and oil aren’t exactly in good terms. Look for areas in your dog’s skin that are dry or look paler than other areas. Massage the olive oil-water mixture onto the affected area. Wipe off any excess oil using paper towels. You can apply this once every day until you’ve seen improvements in your dog’s skin.
Some vets do not recommend the application of olive oil on a dog’s skin, however. The oily feel on their skin may encourage the dog to keep on licking the affected part. This can further exacerbate the itching or irritation in the skin. Diluting the olive oil with water (although technically you cannot dilute oil with water) should help minimize such an issue.
Improved Digestion and Fecal Elimination
Olive oil is also beneficial for constipation in dogs. While this and other natural home remedies can provide effective relief from canine constipation, they should not form the only management for such a health problem.
There are many reasons why a dog may be constipated. It may be because of dietary factors such as excessive fiber or even too little fiber in the dog’s diet. Constipation in dogs may also be brought about by a neurologic disorder especially one that connects to the gut. Since the nervous system is not properly conveying electrical impulses to the muscles of the gut, then it will not be able to move the bowels. Medications, orthopedic problems, dehydration, and even the presence of mats especially around the anus of the dog can also lead to canine constipation.
What we are saying is that, while olive oil for dogs constipation may offer a good solution to your pet’s difficulty moving its bowels, it is more important to bring your hound to your vet for a more thorough and comprehensive assessment of its constipation. This way you can identify the exact cause of the problem and pave the way for the more appropriate treatment.
Nevertheless, when it comes to addressing constipation in dogs using olive oil, you can increase the recommended dosage of extra virgin olive oil for your dog. If you have a small to medium sized dog, you can give a teaspoon for every 10 lbs of its body weight. If your pet happens to be a larger one, the cutoff is a tablespoon of olive oil for every 50 lbs. This should only be mixed with their food once a day.
Stronger Immune System
Another of the numerous benefits of olive oil for dogs is an improvement in their immune system. This is directly related to the carotenoids and polyphenols that are substances that are acknowledged to be beneficial in the enhancement of immune system function.
A stronger immune system simply means your dog will have a much better chance warding off infections especially those that are quite prevalent with the changing of the seasons. Viruses are more efficient with the changing of the weather, such that they can easily overwhelm the cells of a dog’s immune system.
Adding a teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil into your dog’s food for every 30 to 40 pounds of its weight should help provide your pet with the antioxidants that can help improve the immune system. Of course, you cannot expect absolute protection from olive oil. You also need to beef up on your dog’s other disease-prevention techniques such as keeping its kennel clean, giving it fresh water to drink, and providing it with only high-quality, breed- and dog-appropriate food.
The important thing to remember is that olive oil, for all its wonderful benefits, is not the panacea to all of your canine friend’s health problems. It is just one of the different ways by which you can help your dog mount substantial defense against infections and other physiologic insults.
Healthier Central Nervous System
The antioxidant properties of olive oil are not only good for your dog’s immune system, skin, and coat, but may also help improve the way how its brain works. It is not known how olive oil exactly improves the functioning of the central nervous system, especially the brain, but there is evidence to suggest that plant polyphenols found in olive oil may help minimize the effects of oxidative stress on individual brain cells or neurons.
One very particular polyphenol that is implicated in such an activity is oleocanthal. It is believed that oleocanthal can help slow down the degeneration of nervous system cells in dogs that are prone to developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
If olive oil can help slow down the deterioration of a dog’s cognitive functioning by exerting the effects of oleocanthal in the different structures of the brain, one can only imagine the health-promoting benefits of olive oil in otherwise healthy and normal dogs.
A teaspoon a day for every 30 to 40 lbs of body weight is all your dog needs to help make sure that its central nervous system is functioning at its optimum. This is welcome news for those who may have dogs that are already in their golden years or even dogs that are some of the planet’s most intelligent like Border Collies and Poodles.
Reduces Inflammatory Conditions
The same polyphenol – oleocanthal – that is responsible for helping ensure your dog has excellent brain and spinal cord functioning can also be a great anti-inflammatory agent. This is, of course, in addition to the other polyphenols, carotenoids, and flavonoids that also have antioxidant activity which can further aid in the management of inflammatory conditions.
Oleocanthal has striking similarities to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory painkillers being a non-selective cyclooxygenase inhibitor itself. As such, it can help in the management of not only swelling, but also pain and other minor discomforts. It should not be considered as a replacement for conventional pain management protocols, however, especially if you’re talking about moderate to severe pain in your dog.
More specifically, oleocanthal has been shown to inhibit the synthesis or production and the expression of certain messengers of inflammation. It inhibits the protein synthesis for tumor necrosis factor-α and interleukin-1β, among others. And if your dog is currently on Ibuprofen because of pain or inflammation, the addition of olive oil can help potentiate Ibuprofen’s anti-inflammatory activity.
Optimum Canine Health
The presence of monounsaturated fats in olive oil can help secure a healthier heart, allowing it to pump oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood to all the different organs of the dog’s body. Monounsaturated fats have been implicated in the reduction of bad cholesterol which is a major factor in the development of cardiac events. This is one of the most important benefits of olive oil for dogs. Ensuring the more efficient delivery of such substances is the key to guaranteeing optimum health for our pets.
Olive oil is also rich in an anti-cancer substance. While oleic acid doesn’t necessarily prevent cancer itself, it can help reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer in dogs. This is especially the case with breast cancer in dogs.
For our pets to reap only the benefits, it is important that we give them only the right amounts of olive oil that corresponds to their weight. Moreover, while olive oil is beneficial for dogs, it should never be a substitute for a visit to your vet.