Many microorganisms live in and on your pet's body, and normally pose no threat to their health. But under certain conditions, pets can become susceptible to a wide range of infections that can lead to illness and disease. Older pets are particularly at risk, as their immune system weakens and becomes less effective with age.
In today's post, we'll look at a few common types of infection and some of the warning signs that your pet may be infected. We'll also take a look at how coconut oil fights infection, and share some practical tips for using this healthy natural oil to protect and treat your pet.
What Causes Infections?
Infections occur when microorganisms such as viruses, bacteria, and fungi enter the body and begin to multiply. They can also be transmitted by internal or external parasites.
Some of the most common types of infections in pets include infections of the ears, skin, eyes, urinary tract, and respiratory system.
Symptoms of Infections
Due to the wide range of infections pets can suffer from, symptoms can vary in origin and severity. It's worth noting though, that the symptoms of infection caused by a particular type of microorganism can be quite similar.
- Common symptoms of viral infections include eye and nasal discharge, diarrhea, vomiting, and fever.
- Symptoms of bacterial infections include fever, vomiting, and dehydration, but also skin issues such as scaly or irritated skin, sores, and abscesses.
- Fungal infections - such as yeast infections caused by candida - commonly produce symptoms such as an unpleasant odor and inflammation of the skin, eyes, and ears.
- Parasitic infections are often characterized by fever, diarrhea, lethargy, and lameness.
The symptoms your pet displays can provide clues to the origin of the infection, but it's always best to consult with your veterinarian to identify the underlying cause and the best course of treatment.
Using Coconut Oil to Prevent and Treat Infection
Coconut oil is rich is lauric acid and caprylic acid - medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs) that have antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and antimicrobial properties. The MCFAs in coconut oil have been shown to effectively kill potentially harmful microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites. MCFAs are completely harmless to pets and people, and are actually used by the body as a source of energy.
Coconut oil can be used both orally and topically to prevent infection from occurring and to treat common symptoms. To get you started, we've listed four of the most common pet infections below, along with practical advice to help you prevent and treat them using coconut oil.
1) Skin infections
Skin infections can cause painful and uncomfortable symptoms such as rashes, excessive itching, and inflammation. Coconut oil can be applied topically to the skin or added to your pet's diet to help prevent harmful microorganisms from multiplying and causing infection.
If your pet is suffering from a skin infection, simply rub a little coconut oil onto the infected spot. Clove oil can also be added to coconut oil, as it has potent antimicrobial properties. Just 2-3 drops of clove oil mixed into a teaspoon of coconut oil is sufficient - it's very strong and can burn the skin if not properly diluted.
2) Ear infections
Most ear infections in pets are caused by an overgrowth of bacteria or yeast. Symptoms include discharge, itching, abnormal odor, redness and swelling, and tilting or shaking of the head.
Apply a thin layer of coconut oil to your pet's ears every day or two to keep them clean and healthy, and prevent infection.
Coconut oil can also be used to loosen and drain wax and control infections deep within the ear. If your pet has an ear infection, use hydrogen peroxide or a solution made from equal parts organic apple cider vinegar and purified water to clean the ears. Saturate a cotton ball or swab in cleaning solution and gently swab out the insides of the ears. This will clear out dirt and debris and kill the source of the infection. Never use cotton swabs to clean the inside of the ear canal, as they can damage your pet’s eardrums.
Allow the ear to dry, and then massage a thin layer of coconut oil onto the skin of the ear. To loosen excess wax, use an eye dropper to apply a few drops of melted coconut oil directly into the ear canal.
3) Eye infections
A few drops of melted coconut oil can be applied directly to infected eyes with an eye dropper. It's perfectly safe, and causes no stinging, burning or irritation. The antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties of the oil can reduce itchiness and swelling, clear up tear stains, and keep eyes clean and free from infection.
4) Oral infections
Oral infections are very common in pets. Symptoms can include bad breath, red or bleeding gums, and discolored teeth.
To prevent and treat oral infections, clean your pet's teeth regularly with coconut oil. An easy way to do this is by wrapping your finger in gauze, dipping it in a baking soda and coconut oil, and gently brushing the solution on your pet’s teeth and gums.
Baking soda helps balance the PH of the mouth and neutralize excess acids, while the antimicrobial properties of coconut oil help treat infection such as gum inflammation and decay caused by oral bacteria.
Therapeutic-Grade Coconut Oil
When treating and preventing infection in your pets, be sure to choose a therapeutic grade oil such as CocoTherapy coconut oil. Our oil is sourced from our USDA-certified organic family farm in the Philippines and made in our own facility. It’s high in lauric and caprylic acid - the MCFAs known for their antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties - which makes it highly effective at preventing and treating the root causes of infection.
Interested to learn more about the health benefits of our coconut oil? Head on over to our website to discover The CocoTherapy Difference.