Olive Oil and Dogs: 16 Great Benefits

  • By: Andrew
  • Time to read: 10 min.

As a health-conscious individual, you know how healthy olive oil is for your heart. With its abundant reserves of antioxidants and essential fatty acids, olive oil is also beneficial for your furry companion. Olive oil provides multiple health benefits to dogs of all ages and breeds.

Here are the 16 benefits of olive oil for dogs:

  1. Healthy coat
  2. Improved skin
  3. Reduced shedding
  4. Immunity boost
  5. Cardiovascular health
  6. Cognitive health
  7. Anti-inflammation
  8. Joint health
  9. Gut health
  10. Ear health
  11. Respiratory health
  12. Diabetes prevention and management
  13. Weight reduction
  14. Energy boost
  15. Increased lifespan
  16. Improved taste of food

Olive oil is a natural and effective alternative to many dog grooming products. Consuming olive oil regularly also keeps many canine diseases at bay or improves their symptoms, reducing the need for medications, some of which are harmful to your pet. Read on as I explain in this article how olive oil benefits dogs and what you should keep in mind when administering this oil to your pet.

1. Healthy Coat

Most dog skincare products from reputed brands contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. The market is also flooded with omega-3 and omega-6 supplements for dogs. There’s a reason.

Omega-3 and omega-6 are saturated fats essential for your dog’s normal bodily functions and optimal cellular health. A deficiency of these nutrients in the body manifests as poor health and lackluster skin and coat.

Dogs can’t produce omega-3 fatty acids in their bodies; they must receive these from their diet.

Omega-6 fatty acids are essential to maintain the health of your dog’s skin and coat.

Olive oil is loaded with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and antioxidants. According to studies, giving olive oil to dogs can help increase the shine and luster of their coats.

The oil works on your dog at the cellular level. So, you have to feed olive oil to your pet.

Give your pet no more than one teaspoon of olive oil per 20 pounds of body weight daily. Olive oil contains fats and is a calorie-dense food. Your pet shouldn’t be consuming more calories than is appropriate for their age, breed, and activity levels.

You can mix the oil with their wet or dry food.

Ensure that you introduce olive oil into your dog’s diet in moderation. STOP giving olive oil if your pet develops vomiting or diarrhea or exhibits other gastrointestinal symptoms.

Be patient. It takes about 30 days to note a marked improvement in the health of your dog’s coat.

2. Improved Skin

Besides fatty acids, olive oil also contains phytonutrients and vitamin E that keep your dog’s skin moisturized and well-nourished.

Olive oil prevents dry, flaky skin caused by fleas, allergens in the environment, or an underlying health condition. It is a cheaper and natural alternative to expensive over-the-counter shampoos and conditioners that many pet owners use to counter dry skin in their dogs.

Olive oil can help reduce inflammation and relieve itching associated with skin infections and allergies. The less your dog licks and scratches, the quicker the skin heals, and less is the chance of the skin breaking and getting infected.

3. Reduced Shedding

Shedding is natural in dogs. However, excessive shedding is frustrating for any dog parent who has to remove balls of fur from furniture and upholstery.

Excessive shedding is also a sign of an underlying condition and is most likely a skin health issue.

A healthy skin keeps infections at bay. Skin infections can cause excessive shedding by weakening the hair follicles. A dog also tends to itch and scratch at the site of infection, thereby worsening shedding.

Shampoos, conditioners, and sprays do not address an underlying skin condition. Olive oil moisturizes your dog’s skin, reduces flakiness, and strengthens the hair follicles. It provides nourishment to the skin and keeps it healthy.

4. Immunity Boost

The fatty acids, polyphenols, chlorophyll, carotenoids, and vitamin E in olive oil boost your dog’s immune system by protecting the cells from the damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals cause oxidative damage to the body’s cells, leading to illnesses.

Olive oil also helps your dog fight viruses by strengthening the immune system.

5. Cardiovascular Health

Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in olive oil are heart-healthy polyunsaturated fats. Additionally, the vitamin E and phytonutrients in olive oil keep the heart healthy.

Olive oil can increase the plasma levels of high-density lipoproteins (the so-called “good cholesterol) that protect dogs from oxidative stress caused by free radicals.

Consuming olive oil also reduces the levels of low-density lipoproteins or the “bad cholesterol” that is known to contribute to the buildup of artery-clogging plaque.

These cardiovascular benefits in dogs are challenging to obtain without feeding them expensive dietary supplements. So, olive oil is a cost-effective way to promote heart health in your dog.

6. Cognitive Health

According to scientists at the Temple University in Philadelphia and Sapienza University in Rome, there is a link between consuming high-quality olive oil and improved cognitive health in dogs. Oleocanthal, a polyphenol found in olives, has been shown to reduce the risk of developing dementia in dogs.

Multiple studies report the brain-boosting effects of olive oil. Senior dogs and highly-intelligent dog breeds like Border Collies, Mutts, and Poodles can benefit greatly from consuming olive oil daily.

7. Anti-Inflammation

Inflammation in dogs can be caused by injuries, infection, prescription drugs, processed foods in the diet, exposure to toxins, and lack of sunshine or exercise. Like humans, inflammation is a natural way for the body’s immune system to fight back and protect dogs.

However, chronic inflammation that lasts for weeks, months, or years is an abnormal condition that can lead to DNA damage, tissue death, weakened immunity, cancer, and organ disease. 

In dogs, chronic inflammation can cause diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, kidney failure, arthritis, heart disease, allergies, and pancreatitis.

If consumed regularly, olive oil can alter the fatty acid profile of dogs and increase the levels of dihomo-gamma-linoleic acid (DGLA) in their bodies. DGLA is a type of omega-6 fatty acid that dogs cannot produce in their bodies.

DGLA is a potent anti-inflammatory fat.

Olive oil helps your dog lead a healthy and active life by keeping inflammation levels low.

8. Joint Health

Sometimes you may have to administer pain medication to your dog to soothe their aches and increase their mobility. Senior dogs with arthritis, hip dysplasia, and osteoarthritis often need pain medication.

However, the immune system of dogs can be sensitive to pain medicines. Sometimes, pain medication can trigger inflammatory responses. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen, commonly prescribed to manage pain, can damage the kidneys.

Active compounds like oleuropein, oleocanthal, and polyphenols found in olive oil protect against inflammation and reduce pain and swelling in arthritic joints. In this respect, olive oil acts like ibuprofen but without the latter’s harmful health effects.

Additionally, olive oil lubricates the joints, preserves your dog’s natural range of motion, and reduces stiffness.

Olive oil can be a natural alternative to pain medication that doesn’t cause harmful side effects.

9. Gut Health

Poor gut health in dogs can cause inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, and depression. Digestive health issues can hamper the absorption of nutrients that can weaken their immune system.

Synthetic pet foods with preservatives, medications like antibiotics, exposure to chemicals like antimicrobial cleaners, and unhealthy lifestyles like being mostly indoors are just some reasons why many dogs today suffer from poor gut health.

Olive oil promotes gut health. For instance, when consumed as part of their daily diet, it works as a laxative and prevents constipation and indigestion in dogs.

However, it may take a few days for olive oil to take effect. If your dog has severe constipation, you must take them to the vet for an enema rather than wait for olive oil to work.

Olive oil can aid digestion in dogs in another way.

Gallbladder stasis is a condition where the gallbladder cannot move bile acids to the gastrointestinal tract. Bile acids help digestion. Olive oil can supplement prescription medicine by helping the gallbladder continue to move bile acids.

Vets and scientists suggest that you feed your dog extra virgin olive oil.

Extra virgin olive oil has the highest quality of all olive oils on the market. It is unrefined and extracted using the cold press method, which means the fruits are pressed and squeezed to obtain the oil.

Mechanical methods to extract oil from fruits or seeds, such as cold pressing, preserve the fruit’s minerals, vitamins, phenols, antioxidants, and fatty acids. Oils treated with heat or other chemical methods lose many nutrients present in the fruit or the seed.

Extra virgin olive oil is less acidic than other olive oils and will not irritate your dog’s stomach.

I recommend the following extra virgin olive oil products on Amazon.com for your dog:

Pompeian Smooth Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Pompeian Smooth Extra Virgin Olive Oil, First Cold Pressed, Mild and Delicate Flavor, Perfect for Sauteing and Stir-Frying, Naturally Gluten Free, Non-Allergenic, Non-GMO, 68 Fl Oz., Single Bottle

This extra virgin olive oil from Pompeian has a mild, delicate flavor that will blend with your dog’s regular dry or wet kibble. It is ideal for a fussy dog that might otherwise refuse anything with an overpowering or unknown taste.

The Pompeian Smooth Extra Virgin Olive Oil is gluten-free and is easy on your pet’s digestive system. It is also non-allergenic.

Filippo Berio Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Filippo Berio, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 25.3 Ounce

The Filippo Berio Extra Virgin Olive Oil is made from the first cold pressing of the finest-quality olives. So, it retains all the essential fats and antioxidants contained in the fruit.

It has subtle olive notes and a fresh fragrant aroma that your dog won’t mind having in food. It doesn’t contain trans fat, gluten, cholesterol, sugar, and sodium, making it one of the healthiest products in its category.

La Tourangelle Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil

La Tourangelle, Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Cold-Pressed High Antioxidant Picual Olives From Spain, 25.4 fl oz

The La Tourangelle Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil is extracted by cold pressing olives right after the fruits are harvested early in the season. This preserves the freshness and the goodness of the fruits in the oil. Most importantly, the antioxidant levels are high in early-season fruits. This oil is gluten-free and is easy on your dog’s gut. 

10. Ear Health

Dogs with floppy ears are vulnerable to ear infections. Their long ears catch and trap dirt, dust, and moisture, creating the right environment for bacteria and other microorganisms to breed.

If the ear infection is mild, you can skip the expensive ear cleaner and use olive oil instead. Olive oil is just as effective but comes at a fraction of the cost of a medicated product.

Here’s how you can use olive oil on your dog’s ears to treat a mild infection:

  1. Heat water in a bowl.
  2. Warm a dropper of olive oil by submerging it in hot water for some time.
  3. Check the temperature of the oil to make sure it’s not very hot.
  4. Pour a few drops of the oil into your dog’s ears.
  5. Gently rub in the oil to ensure it reaches the inside of the ear.
  6. Use a cotton ball to remove excess oil or any debris that the oil may have loosened.

You can treat mild ear infections in your dog yourself.

However, take your dog to a vet if the ears are red, smelly, feel hot to the touch, or are extremely painful. These are signs of severe infection and can affect your dog’s hearing and balance if not treated immediately.

11. Respiratory Health

Besides improving cardiovascular, gut, joint, and cognitive health, olive oil can also boost your dog’s blood circulation and breathing and prevent respiratory conditions like asthma from developing or worsening.

Some dog breeds, such as BullDogs and Shih Tzus, are prone to shortness of breath. These dogs can benefit greatly from consuming olive oil regularly.

12. Diabetes Prevention and Management

About 1 in 300 dogs develop diabetes during their lifetime. Females, middle-aged, and senior dogs are most susceptible to the disease, as are obese pets. Some breeds like the Alaskan Malamute, Australian Terrier, Poodle, Pug, Spitz, and Yorkshire Terrier are genetically predisposed to diabetes.

Undiagnosed or untreated diabetes in a dog can trigger severe complications and eventually turn fatal.

The long-term effects of diabetes include seizures, liver disease, neurological problems, and cataracts. Many of these complications can make a dog very sick, and they may require aggressive treatment and intensive nursing care, usually at a 24×7 specialty hospital.

Olive oil is believed to prevent the onset of diabetes in dogs and lessen its impact by managing inflammation and preventing obesity. 

13. Weight Reduction

More than 55% of America’s pets are obese.

Obesity is the common cause of diabetes, kidney and liver diseases, and heart disease. Obesity is also among the leading causes of death in dogs.

Obesity places extra strain on a dog’s joints, making moving and exercising difficult. Obese dogs tend to be lethargic and do not want to play or exercise. Lack of exercise and movement causes them to pile on more pounds, and a vicious cycle ensues.

The polyunsaturated fats in olive oil help break down the fat cells in a dog’s body and help manage their weight.

14. Energy Boost

Lack of energy in dogs can be due to many reasons.

Obesity is one of the most common causes of lethargy and weakness in dogs. Your dog may feel tired and a lot less playful if they carry extra weight, even though the weight gain may not be readily apparent.

Olive oil can aid weight reduction in your dog. Your dog will feel more energetic after shedding the extra pounds.

Joint pain can prevent your dog from being active, and this, in turn, can cause weight gain.

A sluggish digestive system can hamper the absorption of nutrients and cause fatigue and lethargy.

Cardiac ailments, diabetes, and respiratory problems can also cause weakness.

By improving the symptoms of these conditions, olive oil can boost your dog’s energy levels.

15. Increased Lifespan

One of the most potent ways in which olive oil can increase the lifespan of dogs is by reducing chronic inflammation.

Chronic inflammation is the leading cause of many diseases, such as diabetes, cancer, kidney failure, respiratory diseases, and heart ailments.

These diseases reduce the quality of life of dogs and shorten their lives, as specified by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). For instance, cancer kills more than 50 percent of all dogs over the age of 10.

Olive oil contains oleic acid, squalene, and terpenoids that are believed to stave off cancer in dogs.

Studies by the AVMA also suggest that the gastrointestinal system is the organ system most commonly associated with deaths in dogs. Olive oil promotes gut health in dogs.

Obesity increases the risk of developing many of these diseases. Regular intake of olive oil in moderation can prevent the onset of many of these diseases in dogs by keeping their weight in check or helping them shed extra pounds.

16. Improved Taste of Food

Some dogs are fussy eaters. It’s often challenging to get them to eat a new brand of kibble.

Not eating adequately can impair your dog’s immune system and drain their strength and vitality.

Olive oil can entice your dog to eat. You can mix a little oil with dry food to alter its consistency and taste. You can add a dash of cinnamon and a pinch of turmeric to spice up your pet’s meal.