What is Palm Oil?
Palm oil is an edible, colorless, odourless vegetable oil which comes from the fruit of oil palm trees. It’s an extremely versatile ingredient commonly found in dog treats and supplements; in fact, it’s so versatile that it’s also used in processed foods, toiletries, as biofuel, and even as a cleaning agent in large ships.
The palm oil that pet owners are being warned against is the palm oil discarded by these ships. It ends up on the beach in a semi-solid, gelatinous form which attracts the curiosity of dogs who then sniff and consume the oil. These lumps of white oil, contaminated by bacteria and waste, are extremely toxic to dogs and should absolutely be avoided at all costs.
As word spreads about the dangers of palm oil found on the beach, many have come to the conclusion that palm oil itself is the dangerous factor. However, this is not the case. It’s not the palm oil causing the toxicity, but the other waste contaminating the oil. Due to its semi-solid form, palm oil may also cause blockages in the digestive system. If your dog does happen to ingest contaminated palm oil, contact your vet immediately.
Now for the good news: palm oil in its pure form, which is used in products such as PetHonesty’s supplemental chews, is perfectly fine for pups. In fact, Harvard Health describes palm fruit oil as having a better fatty acid composition than coconut oil.
Can Palm Oil Make My Dog Sick?
While we have established that pure palm oil safe, this doesn’t mean you should get your pooch started on a palm oil diet. It may be easier for your pup to digest than sesame, corn, or sunflower oils, but too much of any oil (or any food, really) can cause an upset stomach with symptoms such as diarrhea, dehydration, and even pancreatitis in extreme cases. It may not be poisonous, but no one wants their dog to feel sick.
One product that commonly contains palm oil is peanut butter… which also happens to be a popular canine treat. While there is generally not enough palm oil in a jar of peanut butter to be a cause for concern, peanut butter should still be used in moderation due to its high fat and sugar content. Peanut butter containing artificial sweeteners such as xylitol should also be avoided, as it is extremely toxic for dogs.
How does palm oil get on beaches?
International law permits ships to offload palm oil residue while still at sea, as long as they are at least 12 nautical miles from the nearest land and in water no less than 25 metres deep. Palm oil also finds its way into the marine environment when ships carrying it in their cargo collide or sink.
Can Dogs Eat Palm Oil?
Palm oil is an edible vegetable oil derived from the pulp of the fruit of African, American and Maripa palms. It is used in processed foods, toiletries and as a biofuel. Large ships also use palm oil as a tank cleaning agent.