Murphy's Blawg

Coconut Crazy

 What you and your dog need to know about amazing coconut oil.

COCO DOGWe use coconut oil at home for a myriad of things. It has excellent uses both internally and topically. But did you know how beneficial coconut oil can be for your dog?


For you and your dog, coconut oil when taken internally can:

• Reduces the risk of cancer and other degenerative conditions
• Improves cholesterol levels and helps fight heart disease
• Improves digestion and nutrient absorption
• Heals digestive disorders like Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcers, and colitis
• Contains powerful antibacterial, antiviral, and a ntifungal agents that prevent infection and disease
• Relieves arthritis
• Prevents and treats yeast and fungal infections, including thrush and candidiasis
• Prevents and treats viral infections, including herpes, measles, and the flu
• Helps balance the body’s metabolism and hormones
• Promotes normal thyroid function
• Helps prevent or control diabetes
• Rejuvenates the skin and protects against skin cancer, age spots, acne, and other blemishes
• Helps prevent osteoporosis
• Reduces allergic reactions
• Supplies fewer calories than other fats.

When topically applied, coconut oil also does the following:
• Disinfects cuts
• Promotes wound healing
• Improves skin health and hair condition
• Deodorizes whatever it touches (some people brush their teeth with it or use it as an underarm deodorant)
• Clears up warts, moles, psoriasis, eczema, dandruff, precancerous lesions.

All of this is excellent news for people and their dogs, for most of coconut oils human benefits are shared by canines. BONUS! – Dogs love the taste, which makes feeding coconut oil easy and pleasant.

OK, OK you say, you sold me, but what kind should I buy?

If you can, pass on refined coconut oil (often labeled RBD for Refined, Bleached, and Deodorized) is made from copra, or dried coconut meat, then treated to remove impurities. Most RBD coconut oil is inexpensive, bland, and odorless. It doesn’t contain all of the nutrients found in unrefined coconut oil, its fragrance and flavor are different, and in most cases the coconuts used to produce it are of low quality and chemicals like chorine and hexane are used in the refining process.

Instead opt for unrefined or “virgin” coconut oil, which is made from fresh coconuts, has culinary and health experts excited. Pressed by hand using traditional methods or manufactured in state-of-the-art factories, virgin coconut oil retains most of the nutrients found in fresh coconut.

Medium-chain fatty acids Most of coconut oil’s health benefits come from medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs), also known as medium-chain
triglycerides (MCTs). The lauric acid in coconut oil is used by the body to make the same disease-fighting fatty acid derivative monolaurin that babies make from the lauric acid they get from their mothers’ milk. The monoglyceride monolaurin is the substance that keeps infants from getting viral , bacterial, or protozoal infections.” Coconut oil’s capric and caprylic acid have similar properties and are best known for their antifungal effects. Like lauric acid, capric acid helps balance insulin
levels In addition to protecting the body against infection, medium-chain fatty acids are efficiently metabolized to provide an immediate source of fuel and energy, enhancing athletic performance and aiding weight loss. In fact, several coconut diet books are now in print. “The energy boost you get from coconut oil is not like the kick you get from caffeine,” says Dr. Fife. “It gently elevates the metabolism, provides a higher level of energy and vitality, protects you from illness, and speeds

In dogs, the medium-chain fatty acids in coconut oil balance the thyroid, helping overweight dogs lose weight and helping sedentary dogs feel energetic. As a bonus, coconut oil improves any dog’s skin and coat, improves digestion, and reduces allergic reactions.” Extensive research on medium-chain fatty acids has documented their health benefits.

So where do I start you say?

Dosing dogs

1 teaspoon (5ml) per 10 pounds (5kg) of body weight, or 1 tablespoon (15ml) per 30 pounds (13.6 kg) of body weight. Start slowly, for example, start at a quarter of this and build up slowly. Use similarly for cats and other animals. Simply heat and place on their food or place a tsp or so in the cupped palm of your hand and let the warmth of your hand melt the oil. Then let your pet lick the oil directly from your hand!  As with all new supplements, start with small amounts, such as 1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon per day for small dogs, puppies, cats and kittens and 1 teaspoon for large dogs. Gradually increase the amount every few days.

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Best of the East Bay – Pet Shops

Any good celebrity pitchman will refuse to endorse a product he doesn’t use. Amadeus, the seven-year-old Newfoundland that took over for Murphy the golden retriever for whom Murphy’s Paw is named, stands by this principle.

Among the things Amadeus would sit, or shake for are the American odor free bully sticks. Of course, Ami’s true love is treats, and he insists that the store carries his favorites: All U.S.A. made jerky and beef bones.

Not that it’s all work and no play.

When he isn’t working, you can find Ami greeting his furry friends at the shop’s Bark and Brew, a monthly gathering with beer and wine that will have dogs and owners alike wagging their tails.

410 Main St., Pleasanton, (925) 600-8925,  —Sarah Abfalter

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Featured Pawducts

Pet Football Jerseys

Pet Football Jerseys

Unique Gift Idea!
Football season has ended, but your spirit for your team will never leave! What better way to show this pride than by dressing your pet in your favorite team's colors? Come in to our store and see the selection!

Magnetic Pet Art Board

Magnetic Pet Art Board
If you haven't stopped by to see these crafty originals hanging from our walls at Murphy's Paw, do not wait any longer and come in! There are several different breed's images to choose from.
Jewelry Accessories

Jewelry Accessories

Jewelry at a pet shop? If you haven't already figured it out, Murphy's Paw is not your average pet store. Here we feature some local artisan craftsmanship that will guarantee to spark your interest!

Stylish Pet Accessories

All American
Stylish Pet Accessories
Murphy's Paw takes pride in utilizing a high percentage of American-Made Pawducts! Come by the store to see what is currently offered and ask us!
Hand-Made Collars & Leashes

Hand-Made Collars & Leashes

So you love your pet, and you want to get them the best on the market. We are able to provide that for you with premium collars and leashes!
Posted in Featured Pawducts

Could This Natural Remedy Relieve Your Dog’s Itching and Scratching?

By Dr. Becker

If your dog suffers from itchy skin, either seasonally or year-round, he’s not alone. Atopic dermatitis (the technical name for itchy skin) is a growing problem in today’s pets, especially dogs.

Canine atopic dermatitis (CAD) is a condition in which a dog’s skin is very itchy and can develop lesions, especially if he scratches a lot. CAD is most often caused by a hypersensitivity to either food or environmental allergens, including pollens, molds, dust mites, and insect antigens. Holistic vets also find multiple chemical hypersensitivities can contribute to CAD.

Evidence-Based Research Proves Effectiveness of Non-Drug Treatment

One reason some animals suffer with itchy skin while others don’t has to do with how well the skin functions as a protective barrier against allergens. Epidermal barrier defects caused by loss of structural proteins in the outermost layers of the skin are thought to play a significant role in the development of atopic dermatitis in dogs and other animals (including humans).

Fortunately, polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), which include omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids, have now been scientifically proven to have a beneficial effect on the epidermal barrier, probably because they are able to change the lipid composition of the skin.

The benefits of omega-3 fatty acids for pets with atopic dermatitis has been well established in holistic veterinary circles for years, but it’s wonderful to see the traditional veterinary community doing evidence-based research on a natural remedy. This will hopefully lead to more veterinarians adding omega-3 supplements to treatment protocols for itchy patients, especially since PUFAs also have anti-inflammatory and immunomodulating effects.

Itchy Dogs Show Substantial Improvement with Drug-Free Spot-On Treatment

The goal of the study, which was conducted in Munich, Germany and published in the Veterinary Journal1 earlier this year, was to evaluate a spot-on formulation of PUFAs and essential oils on patients with canine atopic dermatitis.

There were 48 pet dogs in the study, and each received a spot-on (topical) application of either a placebo or PUFAs plus essential oils to the back of the neck once a week for eight weeks. The polyunsaturated fatty acids used were alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3) and linoleic acid (omega-6). Essential oils included neem oil, rosemary extract, lavender oil, clove oil, tea tree oil, oregano extract, peppermint extract, and cedar bark extract.

The owners of the dogs reported itchiness scores before and after the study, and veterinarians determined skin lesion severity scores for each dog.

The results of the study showed that individual improvements in lesion and itchiness scores were significantly higher for dogs that received PUFAs and essential oils, and more of those dogs also showed a 50 percent or greater improvement in itchiness. Significantly more placebo-treated dogs deteriorated over the eight weeks (hopefully at the end of the study those poor dogs were also given the PUFAs/essential oils treatment).

No adverse effects were observed from the PUFAs and essential oils treatment.

“A safe long-term alternative.”

According to Clinician’s Brief:

“This study is the first to demonstrate clinical improvement in atopic dogs with a topical spot-on product. Although improvement was observed, complete remission was not. Thus, this product is likely to be an adjunct to other anti-inflammatory or immunomodulatory treatments, such as allergen-specific immunotherapy.”

And also:

“Although PUFAs are typically less efficacious than glucocorticoids and cyclosporine for CAD, they offered a safe long-term alternative and appeared useful as an adjunctive therapy.”

Glucocorticoids and cyclosporine are powerful drugs designed to suppress the immune system. That’s how they achieve “complete remission” in dogs with atopic dermatitis – but typically, symptom relief lasts only as long as the drugs are given. Once they are stopped, it’s a matter of time before the same or new symptoms reappear, because the underlying problem has not been addressed.

In addition, the side effects of these drugs can be devastating and include increased hunger and thirst, increased urination, lethargy, restlessness, mental confusion, GI problems including ulcers, hair loss, weight gain, a potbelly that often signals the presence of Cushing’s disease, blood clots, diabetes, pancreatitis, and secondary infections. The last thing you want to do while trying to relieve your dog’s itchiness is create a much more serious, potentially life-threatening health crisis.

It’s important to try to discover the underlying cause of your pet’s atopic dermatitis, whether it’s dietary or environmental. Many integrative vets see tremendous improvement of CAD symptoms by eliminating pro-inflammatory and GMO sources of grains, unnecessary preservatives, synthetic vitamins and toxic processing techniques in addition to adding omega-3 essential fats to the diet. In the meantime, for symptom relief, I always opt for safe, natural remedies rather than immuno-suppressant drugs. You can find my recommendations for treating atopic dermatitis here, and also here.

Although the PUFAs/essential oils formulation used in the Munich study is not yet available commercially, the promising results achieved by the researchers demonstrate the potential for other undiscovered benefits of PUFAs and essential oils, in this case, the topical application of both.

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