two coconuts, one split open

Q. I heard about eating coconut macaroons to help with irritable bowel syndrome on your radio program. Our dog was having trouble with recurrent bouts of diarrhea and the vet could not find a reason.
I gave her coconut flakes twice a day, and it worked great. So this remedy also seems to work for dogs with sensitive digestive systems.
A. We have heard from many readers who have found that coconut helps to quell diarrhea. We first heard about this remedy from Donald Agar, who used Archway coconut macaroons to treat diarrhea from Crohn’s disease. Others have found that plain shredded coconut works just as well.
Although we could find no scientific support for the use of coconut to stop diarrhea, it is used in some traditional medical systems (Journal of Ethnopharmacology, online Nov. 23, 2012).
You are not the first to report that coconut as flakes or cookies can help stop diarrhea in dogs. Others have found that pumpkin is also very helpful for this problem. One reader wrote:

“I’ve used pumpkin for both constipation and diarrhea and found that it works equally well for both. Just don’t overdo it for the diarrhea. Plain rice helps with diarrhea, too. A bland diet for a few days usually does the trick, but add back in their usual food slowly over a couple of days, at least this is what works for us. We have four dogs.”

We discuss coconut, pomegranate and a few other remedies for diarrhea in our Guide to Digestive Disorders, which also addresses flatulence, heartburn and other problems more salient to humans that to their companion animals.

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  1. Bobbie-Minnesota

    My dog had terrible stomach problems & diarrhea & our vet recommended giving him a large tablespoon of plain yogurt on top of his dry food for each meal. It has been the “miracle cure”!! No more stomach problems, diarrhea & a happy dog!! Plus, this makes a “Happy Mom”! Try it, it works!!!

  2. judy

    My dog is vexed with diarrhea, seldom but still very bothersome to me when it happens. I tried pumpkin…didn’t seem to do a thing. Started crunching up grape nuts flakes into his dog food…seems to help some. I will try the coconut flakes too. I bought the organic coconut flakes for myself one time but never thought to try it with the dog.

  3. S. Isbister, MD

    I would look at your dog’s diet. Does it contain ANY corn or wheat? It will be genetically modified, which causes inflammation in the gut. As well as other diseases down the road. Do you feed probiotics? Healthy bacteria is the mainstay of a healthy digestive tract in pets and humans. Coconut helps by healing the mucosal surface of the gut, but this will not undo recurrent damage done by poor diet, just band-aid it. A chronically inflamed digestive tract also is deficient in digestive enzymes needed to break down the food. Many probiotic pet formulas also contain these enzymes. I would suggest you get one from a pet store focused on natural products for better quality.
    Chronic inflammation is the underlying cause of many chronic diseases, including arthritis, allergies, skin disorders, heart and other organ failure, and cancer. You will save money in the long run by changing the diet to a higher quality food w/o wheat and corn. Dogs were never meant to consume these products, but they are cheap fillers for the industry.

  4. Beach Bouy

    Keep in mind that many of the top brands of shredded coconut sweeten the product with propylene glycol. It is apparently not terribly toxic in small quantities. But, who knows what constitutes a small quantity for a small pet. There certainly are brands of coconut that do not use propylene glycol. I would suggest reading the label carefully, and perhaps asking your vet if the small amount of propylene glycol in grocery store brands of coconut is safe.

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