Our Response To CocoGate


Dogs Naturally has caused quite a stir on social media lately with our recent article regarding coconut oil … so much so that it’s been dubbed CocoGate!

But before we get to our response, we want to extend our heartfelt wishes for your safety and the safety of your dogs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Please do what you can to slow the progress of this disease so we can all return to enjoying each other’s company soon.

Admittedly, with thousands of people dead and millions of people worrying about their job and wellbeing today, it may seem trivial to talk about coconut oil. 

But at the same time, I feel I need to talk about it just this once. 

Because some people are saying we’re somehow endangering dogs because of a post we wrote about coconut oil.

You can click here to see the post that resulted in a public bashing from one prominent coconut oil manufacturer.

I didn’t want to be in this fight, but I feel it’s time to help you understand what’s driving this public backlash … and the role we played in it. 

Yes … I Said Coconut Oil Could Harm Your Dog

Recently, I posted research showing that the risks of coconut oil might outweigh the benefits. And I said it confirmed my gut feeling that coconut oil didn’t belong in my dogs’ diet. 

That’s what we do at Dogs Naturally … we get you the best possible information so you can make informed choices for your dog’s health and wellbeing.

Neither my article nor the underlying research singled out any particular companies or people that sell coconut oil. The article wasn’t personal. 

It was an accurate and factual report on lipid research.

So I was amazed when social media lit up with people saying that Dana Scott tells lies, that Dogs Naturally will sell you products it doesn’t believe in … and that we even published false information to sell you more of our products. 

Now THAT’s personal … and it is just not true.

So I’d like to take just a moment to address this. But first, let me address the source of these accusations … 

Why Are They So Angry About Coconuts??

Right after we published our piece on coconut oil, a newsletter was sent out and shared widely on the internet.

coconut response newsletter

It was titled “Fake News. LIES LIES LIES”

That kind of title certainly gets attention … and social media lit up with this response.

Who published this newsletter? A business that sells coconut oil. 

And it was shared widely on social media by the people who sell their coconut oil.

This is likely why, in the midst of all that’s happening in the world, so many people got so riled up about coconut oil … 

This post threatened coconut oil sales.

That is not Dogs Naturally’s fault. We simply reported the facts … that’s our job. 

If people buy less coconut oil because of those facts, so be it. Dogs Naturally is not in the business of protecting products or companies from the facts.

Those sellers of coconut oil might disagree with the research we reported.  That’s their right.  

But it is not their right to say I reported that research for some sort of personal gain. 

In fact, the opposite is true …

We Removed Coconut Oil From Our Store

When I looked at the studies and talked to the vets and researchers who don’t recommend coconut oil, I came to two conclusions:

1. We needed to share this information with dog owners.
The only information they could access online was all about the benefits of coconut oil.

There were a lot of propaganda posts but the potential downside was hidden in research. As researchers are looking at the microbiome, research showing the possible risks of coconut oil is starting to surface.

Knowing that millions of dog owners were giving their dogs coconut oil and were oblivious to the possible harm it could do, I felt Dogs Naturally needed to write about it.  

2. We had to remove coconut oil products from our store.
Because of the current research, we decided we could no longer sell any edible products that contain coconut oil. 

In this coconut oil company’s newsletter, we were accused of publishing a knowingly false piece in order to sell our magazine and supplements.

That’s just not how Dogs Naturally conducts business; in fact, it doesn’t even make sense. 

Ask yourself these questions: 

If all Dogs Naturally cared out was making money, why would we remove popular products from our store and lose sales and customers as a consequence?

Why would we risk losing even more sales and subscribers by publishing a piece that might upset those who sell and use coconut oil? Not a very smart way to make money.

We simply published this piece because it’s our mission to give dog owners information we feel will help them make healthy and positive choices for their dogs.

Who Am I Loyal To?

Dogs Naturally Magazine exists for one reason … to help a united community of dog owners fight and protect against the greed that’s pervasive in the pet industry.

Companies tend to form alliances and I think that’s a dangerous trend. For example: 

  • AAFCO does a terrible job of protecting our dogs’ nutrition because people with a financial interest in pet foods drive the association. 
  • The American Heartworm Society is run by the companies that profit from heartworm meds.
  • Veterinary associations get financial backing from companies that sell pharmaceuticals. 

These are the old boy clubs where information can be spun and sanitized before it reaches public ears. 

And that’s fundamentally wrong.

I’m not protected by this type of alliance. I’m not loyal to other companies. 

I’m loyal to your dog. Period. Full stop.

And I’m loyal to you because you’re the one person who can make the world a better place for your wonderful creature. 

So, when Dogs Naturally publishes a piece that upsets a particular company, it’s nothing personal … it’s just my job.  

Are We Really Harming Dogs?

Let’s get down to brass tacks … the newsletter response to this post was pretty over the top. 

I basically wrote a post that said, I’ve got a problem with lauric acid, I’ve got a problem with too much saturated fat and here are a bunch of vets and researchers saying they have a problem with them too. 

Differences in opinion happen every day in the nutrition world. There are probably researchers who disagree with or aren’t convinced by the studies we reported.  

But nobody gets riled up about it … unless it affects their livelihood.

So one coconut oil company fought back … hard!

The subject of their email response is: “BEWARE of this well-known pet magazine. They could be harming your dog’s life.”

Seriously … how could a dog’s life be harmed if he doesn’t eat coconut oil? Last I checked, coconut oil isn’t the new penicillin. 

I doubt a lot of dogs would start dropping dead if they stopped eating coconut oil.

But ironically, we were accused of writing a sensationalist article to somehow influence our readers. Good grief, this company says dogs can be harmed if they’re not fed coconut oil … 

… and they’re accusing us of being sensationalist?

Let’s Talk About Fake News

The coconut oil company says:

“It’s frustrating when a publication as big as Dogs Naturally has to resort to scare-tactics and sensationalistic articles to influence their readers. And unfortunately, because of this , it’s getting harder and harder for pet owners to sort out real from fake health stories and advice.”

I agree with them on that point … it is getting harder and harder to sort out real advice from fake advice. Companies who have a financial interest in whether your dog eats their products clearly contribute to this confusion. 

Let’s put their coconut claims into perspective:

  • Even though the ASPCA warns that coconut oil can irritate the gut, this company that sells coconut oil claims it’s perfectly safe and, in fact, will SAVE your dog from harm.
  • Even though there are multiple studies showing that lauric acid from coconut oil increases gut inflammation, this company claims coconut oil is perfectly safe and will SAVE your dog from harm. 
  • Even though several vets and researchers are quoted in this article saying any benefits of coconut oil are not worth the risk, this company responds that coconut oil is perfectly safe and will SAVE your dog from harm.  

It’s OK to disagree with how we, along with multiple vets and researchers, interpret study results. But, to my knowledge, there is no scientific basis to claim coconut oil carries only health benefits with absolutely no downside.

So why is this company so adamantly claiming coconut oil is perfectly safe with no established side effects … even when there are numerous studies that say there are? 

Maybe it’s because, like me, they have a job to do … and their job is to sell you coconut oil.

And when research is presented that shows the potential risks of coconut oil, at least some of them will work overtime to mitigate the potential damage to their sales. 

Is It Wrong That I Never Gave My Dog Coconut Oil?

The response contains what I think is a strange accusation:

“Our heads are still spinning with the outlandish, obvious contradictions DNM made in their latest anti-coconut oil article. It would have been better had she claimed that she used to believe that coconut oil was good for dogs, but then later changed her mind. At least she wouldn’t have been so hypocritical. But despite the fact that she ‘felt in her gut’ that coconut oil was bad for dogs and therefore ‘NEVER gave it to her dogs’, yet she encouraged her readers to feed it to their dogs in her numerous coconut oil blog posts , is truly upsetting and down-right wrong.”

So, is this company saying that if I said “I used to love coconut oil but now I see all this research showing why it’s terrible” it wouldn’t have attacked us?

I doubt that’s true. 

I’ll start out by saying that it IS true that I never gave my dogs coconut oil more than once or twice … 

But there are a lot of things I personally don’t give my dogs: 

  • I don’t use essential oils on my dogs … it’s not my thing. But I don’t condemn those who do. In fact, my job is to recruit experts who love essential oils to guide you in their use so you can use them safely and effectively. 
  • I don’t use herbs on my dogs all that much. I prefer homeopathy. But we’ve paid a lot of herbalists and vets to write about herbs because you might want to use them … and I want you to get the most out of your choices. 
  • I don’t believe any dog should be vaccinated ever. But I write posts and encourage other writers to help you make educated vaccine decisions should you want to vaccinate your dog. 
  • I don’t believe any dog should eat kibble. But I write posts that help you choose the best kibble because I care about your dog and want to help you do what’s best for him. 

Science Is Ever Changing

Dogs Naturally is in the business of educating pet owners. And that means sometimes you’ll see different points of view … all from people we feel are qualified to write about them.

So you might see some conflicting information in our blog or magazine because our mission is to educate. And with the exception of this particularly nasty kerfuffle, a difference in opinion can be healthy and can stimulate positive conversation.

It’s my job to talk about the benefits of a wide range of foods and supplements. It’s my job to support natural foods, herbs and homeopathy. 

But that doesn’t mean I have to personally give every one of these beneficial supplements to my dogs.

If I did, my dogs would eat 20 POUNDS OF SUPPLEMENTS every day!

Ultimately, I just didn’t feel coconut oil was valuable enough to bother giving it to my dogs. I bought a jar and it sat in my dogs’ kitchen for years. It might even still be there!

But here is the accusation that does not sit well with me:

“What other supplements is she currently promoting and recommending to her readers, that she doesn’t feed her dog because she ‘feels’ they are bad for them?  Dogs Naturally Magazine has almost a million readers, pet lovers that trust her and look to her for advice. If she even has a seed of doubt that a supplement might be remotely harmful to dogs, it is irresponsible in good conscience to promote it and encourage people to give it their dogs.”

I NEVER said that I felt coconut oil was dangerous to my dogs … what I said was “I’ve never really given coconut oil to my own dogs. My gut told me it wasn’t quite right.” 

Should Dogs Naturally have posted a critique of coconut oil based on my gut feelings at the time?  

Of course not … Dogs Naturally does not publish based on “gut feelings.” It reports based on fact. 

It would have been irresponsible of me to publish an article trashing coconut oil then, just as it would be irresponsible of me NOT to post such an article now

I have better information today than I did then … of course my views changed. 

Dogs Naturally thinks YOU deserve that better information too.

But to leap from my description of a gut feeling I had years ago to accusing me of selling products that I know are harmful is malicious and just downright wrong. 

Which brings me to the end …

Why We’re Not Fighting This On Social Media.

You might be wondering why we aren’t  talking back at this company and their sellers on social media sites. 

It’s simple … our work speaks for itself, and if you don’t believe that, then nasty posts on social media aren’t going to change your mind. 

Dogs Naturally and I would rather spend our time on our core mission: the health of your dogs. 

Fighting on social media? Personally, I think it’s a giant waste of time. 

The madness will have to continue without my participation or that of Dogs Naturally. 

And while they’ve been talking about the merits of their product for the last solid week, we’ve made a decision as a company that now is the time to support YOU, not us. 

In fact, we’ve just made our flagship product, our Raw Dog Food Nutrition Certification Course FREE to everybody. No sales pitches, no upsells or cross sells. 

We’re giving back to our community with free access to a $395 certification course

While others are talking about their own interests, we’ve been busy trying to figure out how to help our supporters stay busy and distracted during their home isolation. I’d rather use social media for something positive … and not use it to contribute to the hatred and ugliness in this world. 

You may not always agree with everything we write and publish … and for that I commend you! Because we should all feel free to express our point of view in a world that’s becoming less and less open and tolerant. 

No one can please all the people all the time, but I know I can  sleep at night knowing I’ve done my best to help dogs. 

Whether their owners buy our products or not, I will continue to be loyal to the most loyal of species.

All the best to you and your dog, 

~ Dana   

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