Scientists confirm benefits of coconut oil to pets
Science recognises coconut oil to be the product offering direct health benefits, and has been recommended for use in pet food production. This was confirmed by the scientific research carried out from June 2018 to September 2019 by the specialised pet food plant AKVATERA LT UAB together with Vytautas Magnus University Agriculture Academy (VDU ŽŪA), which was organised by the Agency for Science, Innovation and Technology (MITA) according to the joint project application No 01.2.1-MITA-T-851-01-0008 “Creation of new generation feed to improve animal health by using oil components”. The project was initiated seeking to satisfy the needs of the most demanding customers and their pets allowing to create products, the effectiveness of which was scientifically proven.
Finding new constituents
The range of dog and cat food is very wide, however, the search for new raw materials suitable for production of feed, offering more nutrients to a pet’s diet and producing positive effects on animals has not stopped.
“We already knew that coconut oil could be a suitable ingredient supplementing the diet of pets and improving their quality of life. However, up until now, there were no scientific studies conducted on coconut oil that would assess its use in production of pet food. This led us into cooperation with Vytautas Magnus University Agriculture Academy”, said Rūta Dambrauskienė, the plant technologist at AKVATERA LT UAB.
According to the lead researcher Senior Research Fellow Dr Eglė Sendžikienė and Prof (HP) Dr Violeta Makarevičienė, coconut oil in feed could completely or partially replace animal fats that contain saturated fatty acids. According to them, coconut oil also has more benefits to health than animal fats.
Coconut oil benefits
Various fats and oils are used in production of dog and cat food. Fats of animal and plant origin are commonly added. Recently, coconut oil gained wider use in food production, and its positive properties have been confirmed by the scientific research.
According to Sendžikienė and Makarevičienė, coconut oil has a high content of medium-chain fatty acids and is easily digestible. The MCFA contained in the oil improve metabolism and increase energy expenditure better than long-chain fatty acids.
In addition, the Lithuanian scientists state that coconut oil is also distinguished by its high content of lauric acid, which is characteristic of mother's milk and not characteristic of vegetable oil or animal fats. The content of lauric acid can reach up to 50 % of the total quantity of saturated fatty acids.
“The presence of this acid offers exceptional properties of coconut oil. The lauric acid is characterised with anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties, and serves as a natural antibiotic,” stated Dr Sendžikienė.
Moreover, coconut oil is non-allergenic, can reduce atopic dermatitis in animals if applied externally, while its internal intake can impede inflammatory processes of the digestive tract, improve metabolism and strengthen the immune system.
Scientific and commercial novelty – feed with coconut oil
The works of the Lithuanian scientists have already been applied in practice. AKVATERA LT UAB manufactures dry dog and cat food containing coconut oil – a product which, as scientifically proven, is highly beneficial for animal health.
“Business and science are complementary fields. Cooperation with the Agency for Science, Innovation and Technology and Vytautas Magnus University Agriculture Academy enabled us to apply scientific research, know-how and competences in creating a new generation food for dogs and cats,” stated Jolanta Matikienė, the Head of Quality Department at AKVATERA LT UAB plant (KIKA GROUP UAB group of companies).
HiQ dry dog and cat food is enriched with coconut oil and is a well-known pet food both in Lithuania and around the world.