Over the past few years, coconut has skyrocketed in popularity for human and, now, pet consumption.
“Coconut is one of the few foods that can be classified as a ‘superfood,’” Chanda D. Leary-Coutu, senior manager of marketing communications at WellPet, said.
What is a superfood? Though it isn’t a regulated term, foods that are nutrient-dense and have a positive impact on overall wellness are labeled as a superfood.
As an ingredient in pet food and treats, coconut is used in dozens of ways, from its rawest form to an added element within a complex formula. It frequently appears as coconut oil or coconut flour in many formulations.
One popular coconut product is virgin coconut oil.
“Coconut is extremely beneficial for pets because it is one of the richest natural sources of medium chain triglycerides,” Charisa Antigua, CEO and co-founder of Oscar Newman LLC, said. “The most abundant medium-chain fatty acid (MCFA) found in coconut oil is lauric acid, which is considered responsible for many of coconut oil’s health benefits. Coconut oil is about 50 percent lauric acid, and the only other abundant source found in nature is in human breast milk.”
Her brand’s CocoTherapy Organic Virgin Coconut Oil and Organic Coconut Chips come from her UsSA-organic-inspected family farm and is manufactured in the family’s own facility.
“We do not take shortcuts when it comes to producing our coconut oil and chips,” she said. “So our coconut oil is manufactured to be the highest quality, therapeutic-grade coconut oil. We receive many letters from owners that tell us that their dogs with allergies, digestive issues, IBD, colitis and other inflammatory conditions often see improvement just from taking our products.”
Many other companies offer variations on the coconut oil product.
K9 Granola Factory offers a range of coconut-based products, like its Organic Banana Chips made with Organic Coconut Oil, Grain Free Atlantic Salmon Crunchers with Coconut and Kelp, and Organic Coconut Flakes. The company also offers Organic Virgin Coconut Oil in a jar.
According to Samantha Lang, director of marketing at Wholistic Pet Organics, it’s critical to pay attention to the coconut oil formulation in products.
“Coconut oil is available in different grades,” Lang said. “Depending on the grade, it will have more or less benefits to our pets. Unrefined, virgin coconut oil has the best nutritional value because it is not treated with chemicals or exposed to high heat. High-quality coconut oil should be white when solid and clear when a liquid. It should have a pleasant coconut smell and taste.”
Wholistic Pet Organics manufactures 100 percent certified organic, super premium, extra virgin and non-genetically engineered coconut oil.
“Pet parents can rest assured that by choosing our brand of coconut oil, their pets are receiving the full spectrum of benefits coconut oil has to offer,” she said. “Retailers should advise their customers that our Wholistic Coconut Oil is specifically manufactured for their pets, making it the most cost-effective option for the quality.”
As an ingredient, coconut is widely used in food and treats.
“Coconut is an excellent, low-glycemic source of fiber as well as fat, vitamins and minerals,” Lucy Postins, founder and CEO of The Honest Kitchen, said. “In addition, coconut is thought to have antiviral, antibacterial and immune-supportive properties.”
The brand incorporates coconut in several of its meals, including Embark, which is a complete dog food, and Preference, which is a dog food base. The Honest Kitchen also uses coconut oil in its treat offerings, including Nuzzles, Smooches and Pecks.
When it comes to using coconut, Postins pointed out that the company’s customers demand purity, quality and transparency.
“The Honest Kitchen’s coconut is sourced from Thailand, and is 100 percent human grade, and it’s also proudly certified organic, which means it’s produced without the use of chemical pesticides or other harmful industrial farming practices,” she said. “It’s the same coconut that people consume in human food products like trail mix and breakfast cereals.”
Wellness recently launched its first treat line designed specifically for small breeds, and the formula includes coconut as a key ingredient. In addition to the coconut, the Wellness Petite Treats Crunchy Mini-Bites with Duck, Mango and Coconut include an all-natural list of features: They’re grain and wheat free, and don’t include corn, soy, artificial colors or flavors. But, the coconut adds a flavor that appeals to dogs.
“Each mini-bite is packed with great flavor from whole foods, along with flaxseed to promote a healthy, shiny coat,” Leary-Coutu said. “Dogs are crazy about the taste of the coconut, and it is a great natural treat to give for variety.”