Olive oil has an array of health benefits for humans, and many of these are also applicable for our four-legged friends. These range from boosting the immune system to improving coat and skin condition. Though it's always important to monitor your pet's caloric intake, olive oil might just be worth adding to your pet's diet in moderation.
Health Benefits of Olive Oil for Dogs
Among olive oil's many benefits for dogs (and humans) are the fact that it is rich in phytonutrients as well as vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids. It can help keep Fido's skin moisturized as well as promote a shiny coat. However, that doesn't mean it's necessarily a good idea to apply olive oil directly to your dog's coat--it's far too tempting for most dogs, as they'll just want to lick it off.
Here are some other benefits of incorporating olive oil into your pup's diet.
If your dog has been balking at their kibble lately, a drizzle of olive oil should be enough to change the taste and consistency of their everyday food and could be all you need to kickstart your pup's appetite.
Of course, if your dog has been off their food for more than a day or they have other worrying symptoms or behavior, you should always seek advice from your vet.
We all want to keep our beloved pets with us for as long as we can, and offering your dog a small amount of olive oil regularly may actually help do just that. Studies suggest that antioxidants like vitamin E can help protect your dog’s cell membranes from damage by free radicals. It could also prevent over-oxidization in cells, a process that leads to tissue damage as well as more serious illnesses like dementia and cardiovascular disease.
Consuming olive oil has also been linked to lower levels of cholesterol and preventing cognitive decline.
A small dose of olive oil may help improve your dog's circulation and breathing, and even help prevent respiratory conditions like asthma. As such, brachycephalic breeds (think bulldogs and Shih Tzus) could benefit from a small amount of olive oil in their diet on a regular basis.
Better Digestive Health
Since it acts as a laxative, small amounts of olive oil can also help stimulate your pet's digestive system if they happen to be suffering from constipation or indigestion. Just be sure to introduce in moderation and back off the olive oil if your dog develops diarrhea, vomiting, or any other GI symptoms.
Potential Dangers of Olive Oil for Dogs
Even though it can have benefits for dogs, olive oil is very high in fat. This means there's always the risk of weight gain if your dog consumes too much on a regular basis.
You'll want to be sure not to offer olive oil to your pet if they already have a weight issue and, as always, be sure to consult your veterinarian before adding oil, or any other "people food", to your dog's diet.
If your dog consumes a large amount of olive oil, perhaps if a bottle is spilled on the floor or if you are not adding it to their diet with enough moderation, you will have to watch out for it causing stomach upset and possibly diarrhea. The consumption of too many fatty foods can also lead to a potentially serious condition called pancreatitis.
How to Offer Olive Oil to Your Dog
Moderation is the key, and any additions of olive oil should be introduced gradually and in very small quantities (one or two teaspoonfuls at most) on a daily basis.
The best, and easiest, way to incorporate olive oil into your dog's diet is to add about a teaspoon (which is appropriate for a medium-sized, 30 to 40-pound dog) to a meal.
Olive oil can be offered on a weekly basis, or, with your vet's OK, even every day. A larger breed should be able to tolerate up to a tablespoon-sized serving daily. It is best to start with a smaller amount to ensure your dog doesn't have a bad reaction and to allow their system to get used to this new ingredient.
When choosing an olive oil for your dog, it's generally a good idea to go for extra virgin olive oil since it's lower in acidity.
Olive oil can also be swapped for fish oil or coconut oil, which can also offer an array of health benefits for your pooch.
Jewell DE, Yu S, Joshi DK. Effects of serum vitamin E levels on skin vitamin E levels in dogs and cats. Vet Ther. 2002;3(3):235-243.