Before I get into the meat of this post, first I'll talk about how I stumbled upon coconut oil as a beneficial supplement for dogs. I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that Heffner came down with colitis. It was really unpleasant and he was obviously feeling horrible. We went to see the vet he was prescribed sulfasalazine for 10 days. However, I only ended up getting 5 days worth of it. I didn't realize this until we were practically out. He was doing so well on the medication that I figured it shouldn't be a huge deal. However, two days off of the meds and his colon got angry again. I called the vet. My vet is on vacation, but the fill-in vet was going to look over his case. Retrospectively I realize that I didn't emphasize enough then that Heffner had run OUT of his medication and had been off of it for two days. I think the vet was under the impression, from the relayed message, that it had just cropped back up while still on the medication. I had requested to get a full 10 days worth of the medication and not just the remaining 5 days worth. However, in the confusion, I only got 5 days worth. Okay. I was hoping that would do the trick.
Well, it didn't. Two days off the meds and Heffner's colon is angry again. I called the vet today and we got things figured out. He's now on a different medication, metronidazole, for 7 days. Hopefully this will kick the problem all together. Thankfully we just had the one accident over night and there wasn't anything for me to clean up when I got home from work.
As happens in most cases, when you're having problems with something, you tend to become more aware and more receptive to alternative solutions. My friend Shana recommended slippery elm to me. It's supposed to help soothe the intestinal tract. The only problem I found with it is that it's not recommended to take the supplement with other medications. Since he's getting his meds twice a day, that doesn't really leave me a whole lot of other options as to when to give it to him. I did pick up a bottle, and I do plan on trying it out with him (if nothing else, I figure it's a good supplement to have on hand for the dogs when we travel to help fend off any possible travel related diarrhea), but I'll wait until after he's off his meds.
I was reading a magazine the other day and I just happened to come across an article talking about coconut oil. I like reading random articles about using random things to help our pets and this was something that I knew absolutely nothing about and hadn't really heard anything previously about giving dogs coconut oil. Well let me tell ya, apparently I am quite behind the times! In just a short random search online I found all sorts of blurbs about the stuff and there have been articles published in various dog related magazines as far back as 2005. I do often find that until something is specifically brought to my attention, I tend to live under a rock!;o)
Do you guys realize how great coconut oil is for dogs and people? The list of benefits is quite lengthy. In a nut shell, it helps with skin and coat conditions, and more importantly it's incredibly helpful with the GI tract as a whole, and inflammatory bowel syndrome and colitis specifically. That's right, it helps with treating colitis!! Ka-ching!
Coconut oil is made up of medium chain fatty acids and lauric acid in addition to a plethora of other beneficial nutrients. The lauric acid is of special importance because the other primary natural source is human breast milk. We all know how critical it is for babies of any species to get breast milk in order to grow properly. So many of those beneficial nutrients are found in coconut oil!
This information is all pretty new to me and I only just stopped by New Season's today to pick up the coconut oil that I haven't had enough time to really test it out on the dogs and tell you what I think of it. I will update in a few weeks and give my general impression. Since Heffner is on medication for the colitis I know that any benefits he receives will be predominantly due to the medication. My hope is that by starting now and slowing increasing the amount that he gets each day, that the benefits will last well beyond the length of medication. My hope is that we won't have any further flare ups and that the coconut oil will be a good preventative. There are more than enough other benefits to giving it to the dogs that I'm giving it to both dogs right now and will continue to do so.
As always, I have some generally helpful links to share with you: