Recently, the well-known dog publication “Dogs Naturally Magazine” (DNM) posted an astounding, anti-coconut oil article, written by its founder, CEO, & editor in chief, Dana Scott. In it, she listed several common facts about coconut oil and proceeded to interject inaccurate, false information in an attempt to legitimize her arguments.
Being in the coconut oil industry for three generations, I’ve seen my share of anti-coconut oil articles. Coconut oil is the poster child for dietary fat confusion. For many, one of them due to its unique chemistry and how it is metabolized in the body.
When we come across an anti-coconut article that warrants a rebuttal, we make every attempt to focus on scientific data and reach out to experts whose specialty is in this unique dietary fat.
So why did the Dogs Naturally blog surprise me more than the other anti-coconut oil articles? Dana repeated numerous, common fallacies about coconut oil, most of which we have already addressed in the past, so her post shouldn’t have caught me off-guard. However, on so many levels, her article was the epitome of the sensationalism many publications resort to, in order to garner response, increase readership, and invoke emotion in their readers. False information like this can hurt pets, and I think that is what struck a wrong chord in me.
After reading this flawed article, I am inspired to yet again address each of the misleading, erroneous points that are raised in the article. For each of the more complex points (where distorted coconut oil facts were used), I will address them in a separate document, with due reference to scientific studies vetted by industry lipid experts, many who have dedicated YEARS of their lives to fats, including coconut oil.
But for now, I must address Dogs Naturally’s brazen attempt to smear coconut oil’s reputation.
The title, “Coconut Oil For Dogs: New Research Says Stay Away”, implies that there's new, late-breaking research that finally got the facts straight. And yep, after thousands of years of coconut oil consumption by both humans and animals, “NEW” research finally got it right -- that coconut oil is bad for you! (note the sarcasm here.)
On the contrary, her article did not share new research: it is a repeat of countless negative, inaccurate statements regarding coconut oil that we’ve all heard before, for example: Coconut oil is a saturated fat! It is poison! It causes inflammation! And even more ridiculous, the article incorrectly states: Lauric Acid, the predominant medium-chain fatty acid in coconut oil isn’t actually a medium-chain fatty acid!! It's actually a long-chain fatty acid!
Let me point out some not-so-new “news”: Coconut oil has been around for a very, very long time. Cultures all over the world have used coconut oil as food and medicine for centuries, for both themselves and their animals. It has been a staple in the diets of millions of people for thousands of years. In fact, coconut oil has been part of Indian Ayurvedic medicine for over 5,000 years. What's more, there are thousands of published scientific studies on virgin coconut oil.
So why did this Dogs Naturally Magazine article affect me more and compel me to write this response? At the beginning of the article, Dana’s admission that she “has never given coconut oil to her dogs”, because her “gut told me it wasn’t quite right” was absurd. Why? Because for years, Dana has written and published in DNM several articles praising coconut oil, sharing links to scientific studies, and recommending it to her readers. (More on this later).
If she knew in her gut that it wasn’t “quite right”, it begs the question: WHY did she write so many wonderful, glowing blog posts about coconut oil? Why did she recommend that her readers feed it to their dogs? Why did she provide dosages and ways to give coconut oil?
First, let's address the three most glaring flaws in the DNM article:
1. She states that coconut oil is high in saturated fat and because of that, coconut oil is bad.
2. She states that Lauric Acid is not a medium-chain fatty acid (MCFA). It’s really a long-chain fatty acid, and acts like a long-chain fatty acid.
3. She states that she has never really given coconut oil, because she knew in her gut that it wasn’t right.
Let’s look at each of these points more closely:
FLAW #1: Coconut Oil is a saturated fat, which is bad for you.
As if we already didn’t know, the article boldly states: “Coconut Oil Contains Saturated Fats”. Specifically, it states: “While coconut oil does contain MCTs, it has a distinct disadvantage … it’s high in saturated fat. In fact, it’s over 80% saturated fat. In comparison, butter is 63% and pork lard is just 39% saturated fat.”
The problem with this simplistic message is that it lumps all saturated fats in the same harmful basket. Scientific research now knows and accepts that the kind of saturated fat in coconut oil differs markedly from both dairy saturated fatty acids (SFAs) and beef saturated fatty acids (SFAs) and, like dairy fat, appears to have a beneficial effect on blood lipids, weight, and cardiovascular health.
Here, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, I must repeat the same facts that we have said many times before:
Not All Saturated Fats Are Created Equal!
Saturated fats are divided into various types based on the number of carbon atoms in the molecule. Depending on length, they differ distinctly in their metabolism, absorption, and effects on lipid profiles.
Although coconut oil contains lots of saturated fat, the saturated fatty acids (SFAs) in coconut oil are drastically different from other dietary sources of SFA. The medium-chain fatty acids like Lauric Acid are absorbed and metabolized very differently from long-chain fatty acids found in animal fat. Again, all saturated fats are not created equal.
In DNM’s attempt to drive their point of the dangers of saturated fats, they provide a link to an old video (old news here) of a Harvard professor, Karin Michels where they quoted her saying: “coconut oil is “pure poison” and “one of the worst things you can eat.”
This made me shudder for various reasons: In 2018, my business partner, Carmina O’Connor and I presented at DNM’s “Raw & Natural Dog Summit”. In our 50-minute presentation, we addressed both the American Heart Association’s report, as well and the Harvard professor (Karin Michels) claims that all saturated fats were bad and her infamous statement calling coconut oil “pure poison”. Because it was necessary, we went into some depth on the chemistry of coconut oil, saturated fatty acids, and how our bodies process these different types of fats. In fact, Dogs Naturally extrapolated from our CocoTherapy presentation, to publish a blog post on their website: “Top 5 Coconut Oil Myths Busted”.
In their effort to further mislead their readers, the DNM’s anti-coconut oil blog continues to criticize saturated fats for dogs, referencing saturated fat studies on humans. However, dogs and cats are able to consume saturated fats in their diets without undue risk of coronary artery diseases and other lipid diseases that affect humans.
In contrast to humans, dogs and cats are physiologically resistant to the development of hypercholesterolemia, high triglyceride, or high blood pressure, so comparing dogs to high saturated fat studies done on humans is a moot point.
FLAW #2: Lauric acid is not a medium-chain fatty acid, nor does it act like a MCFA
The DNM article makes numerous flawed, inaccurate Lauric Acid statements as their basis to disrepute coconut oil. It states: “Lauric acid is different than MCTs.” “It uses the same metabolic pathways as long chain triglycerides (LCTs), not MCTs…. And probably ends up dumped in fat stores like LCTs.” Probably?
The article goes on to say that because half of coconut oil contains Lauric Acid, which is really not an MCT, but an LCT, “it's hard to call coconut oil a good source of MCTs if you’re after their health benefits.”
The article continues to degrade Lauric Acid, using that premise to support their view that because coconut oil is rich in Lauric Acid, coconut oil is bad for you. They failed to mention a physiological and biological FACT:
Lauric Acid, when consumed, converts to Monoglyceride Monolaurin, which is scientifically proven to be anti-bacterial and anti-microbial, thus supporting the immune system.
What a contradiction to the numerous blogs that DNM has written about the wonders of Lauric Acid and coconut oil! In fact, in a previous blog, “Coconut Oil and Dogs: Is Your Dog Missing This Important Fat?” Dogs Naturally states: “There are other benefits to MCFAs … and there are nearly 2,000 scientific studies just on the health benefits of lauric acid alone. Coconut Oil is the perfect addition to your dog’s diet.”
And the blog post provides the link to these nearly 2,000 Lauric Acid scientific studies:
Furthermore, this DNM article states: “Coconut oil also contains good amounts of caproic, caprylic and capric acid but it’s also the richest natural source of lauric acid (coconut oil is about 50% lauric acid), following by human breastmilk (which is 20% lauric acid). The health benefits of coconut oil has been proven through recent research – not just for its MCFAs, but also for its antibacterial, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Lauric acid is the best researched and most beneficial of the MCFAs, so coconut oil is a slam dunk when it comes to getting more SCFAs into your dog.”
Again, what a huge contradiction to this latest anti-coconut oil article! I find it interesting that now, this anti-coconut oil article conveniently omits the well-known fact that MOTHER’S MILK in mammals is rich in Lauric Acid. If Lauric Acid is so bad for you, then all the babies drinking mother’s milk would be very ill.
The TRUE fact: because Lauric Acid (C:12) is a slightly larger medium-chain fatty acid (MCFA) compared to Capric (C:10) and Caprylic Acid (C:8), it is converted to ketones by the liver at a slower rate, (compared to Caprylic and Capric Acids). Research has shown that if it is not converted into ketones immediately by the liver, it will travel directly to the brain and be converted to ketones by the brain itself[*1]. Furthermore, Caprylic and Capric acids raise blood ketones and peak in around 1.5 hours and is completely assimilated in 3 hours.
Lauric Acid then increases blood ketones to therapeutic levels and peaks in about 3 hours, and remains elevated for a full 8 hours[*2].
For this reason, the combination of the three medium-chain fatty acids provides overall greater and longer-lasting benefits.
FLAW #3: The author has “never really given coconut oil to her own dogs” because her “gut told her it wasn’t right”
Perhaps the most disturbing statement Dana made in this recent anti-coconut oil blog was: “But I have to admit … I’ve never really given coconut oil to my own dogs. My gut told me it wasn’t quite right.”
Wow. After years of writing about the health benefits of coconut oil, after sharing blog posts about its benefits, Dana has never given coconut oil to her own dogs?
If she knew in her gut that it wasn’t quite right, it begs the question: WHY did she write so many wonderful, glowing blogs about coconut oil? Why did she recommend that her readers feed it to their dogs? Why did she provide dosages and ways to give coconut oil?
Here’s another DNM blog, “7 Reasons To Use Coconut Oil For Dogs”, where they state “The truth is we love coconut oil for dogs.”.
In addition to their pro-coconut oil stance, DNM asked me to write an article about the benefits of coconut oil for their magazine!
Our heads are still spinning with the outlandish, obvious contradictions DNM made in their latest anti-coconut oil article. It would have been better had she claimed that she used to believe that coconut oil was good for dogs, but then later changed her mind. At least she wouldn’t have been so hypocritical. But despite the fact that she “felt in her gut” that coconut oil was bad for dogs and therefore “NEVER gave it to her dogs”, yet she encouraged her readers to feed it to their dogs in her numerous coconut oil blog posts, is truly upsetting and down-right wrong.
It makes me wonder: What other supplements is she currently promoting and recommending to her readers, that she doesn’t feed her dog because she “feels” they are bad for them? Dogs Naturally Magazine has almost a million readers, pet lovers that trust her and look to her for advice. If she even has a seed of doubt that a supplement might be remotely harmful to dogs, it is irresponsible in good conscience to promote it and encourage people to give it their dogs.
It’s no secret that a magazine’s primary goal is to sell subscriptions and gain readership. But when the publisher will resort to deceptive propaganda to sell her magazine and supplements (Full disclosure: Dana Scott is also CEO of Four Leaf Rover, Dogs Naturally’s line of dog supplements), that crosses the line.
Dana's recent post cherry-picked science and used what suited her to create an impressive-sounding article only to fool unsuspecting consumers. She may dazzle some of her readers with fanciful research studies or scare them with intimidating warnings, but the more serious fact remains: deceptive, false information is dangerous. It promotes fear, devalues legitimate science, and can hurt lives.
I love being in a pet industry with passionate, intelligent pet lovers who will do anything for the health of their animals. We have made it our mission to educate pet parents and provide as many facts as possible, so that they can make intelligent decisions for themselves and their animals. Every animal is different and has different needs, and we believe that it is our job to help, guide, and share accurate information without any hidden agendas.
Yes, it is a fact that I am a co-founder of CocoTherapy, and my family makes and sells coconut oil. But it is also a fact that coconut oil has been part of my family for three generations. My family produces small-batch, hand-crafted virgin coconut oil, with coconuts from our family’s coconut farm and made in our family’s coconut oil facility. It is something that my family had used and believed in for 90 years. My grandma made it her life mission to create a product that she relied on to keep her family, pets, and livestock healthy. We’ve been blessed by her dedication to coconut oil and have witnessed first-hand its positive effects on my family and pets.
That being said, if we ever thought in our gut, or learned from legitimate studies, that coconut oil was harmful to dogs, we could not in good conscience sell it dogs. We’d be the first to tell you to stop giving it to your pets.
The bottom line: virgin coconut oil has numerous, valuable health benefits for animals, and has been proven to address many acute and chronic health conditions. We have many testimonials and reviews from pet owners who have used our products for over 10 years.
Furthermore, we are honored to be recognized by many of the nation’s holistic veterinarians and health care professionals who USE and RECOMMEND coconut oil, and particularly the CocoTherapy brand to their patients.
It’s frustrating when a publication as big as Dogs Naturally has to resort to scare-tactics and sensationalistic articles to influence their readers. And even worse, it’s dangerous that they promote products that they themselves do not feed their own dogs, because they believe it could be harmful to dogs. Unfortunately, because of this, it’s getting harder and harder for pet owners to sort out real from fake health stories and advice.
Over the next few weeks, we will address the other erroneous coconut oil claims the DNM article made, as this blog post is long enough. But I do want to make one important point:
While we have always been advocates of coconut oil and its ability to help and heal, we do so because of our lifelong experiences, our understanding of the science, and the influence of other scientists, doctors, and lipid experts, from whom we continue to learn. It’s not our job to tell you what to do, what to give your animals, or how to feed them. It’s our responsibility to present the most accurate information we can so that you can learn and decide what is best for you and your animals.
Does Coconut Oil Cause Metabolic Endotoxemia in Dogs?
Does Coconut Oil Increase the Amount and Toxicity of LPS?
Is Coconut Oil Inflammatory and Will It Cause Leaky Gut?
“MCFAs do not transport Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) themselves. They only produce fragments of LPS that are small enough to be absorbed into the intestinal wall -- a normal healthy intestinal wall. It does not have to be a compromised leaky gut. This is how MCFAs in mother's milk trains the infant's immune system to recognize danger and respond appropriately.
Absorbing LPS is not a disease or a mistake of nature but part of the perfect design of nature. It serves a vital function. These scientists are twisting the facts to make coconut oil/saturated fat a villain when it is doing what it is designed to do to keep us healthy. Coconut oil can increase the amount of LPS in the bloodstream because it is killing these harmful bacteria in the gut and fragments of the dead bacteria can be absorbed via the chylomicrons into the bloodstream.” - Dr. Bruce Fife, ND, CN, Lipid Expert
Click here to learn more.
Dysbiosis: Does Your Dog Have Leaky Gut?
“Support Gut Healing: Use Coconut Oil or Hemp Oil to supply medium chain fatty acids. They’re also easier to digest than fish oils without the risk of rancidity. Make sure your oil is non-GMO, grown without herbicides or pesticides, cold pressed, hexane free, unrefined and unbleached. Give 1 tsp per 10 pounds of body weight but start with ¼ tsp and work up over a two to three-week period.” – Julie Anne Lee, DCH, RCSHom
3 Studies That Demonstrate the Powerful Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Coconut Oil
Coconut Oil and Gastrointestinal Disorders
Click here to learn more.