When it comes to flaxseed, there are many potential health benefits that can contribute to the increased vitality and well-being of your canine friend, especially as a regular supplement to a healthy diet.
Flaxseed has historically been used for thousands of years in the creation of things like fabrics and linen and other textiles. It has also been used to make linseed oil, otherwise known as flaxseed oil.
The flax plant itself produces little seeds that are golden and brown in color, with a taste that is somewhat nutty in flavor. The seeds can be eaten as-is, although it’s not recommended. In its whole form, it is most likely to pass right through your dog’s system undigested. In fact, they are so stable, they’ve found in-tact flax seeds in Egyptian tombs!
Other ways flax may be eaten is in its ground form, either sprinkled in your dog’s food or encased in a supplemental capsule. Sometimes you may also find certain brands of dog food that have flaxseed already added as a prime ingredient, although most dog foods tend to lack vital nutrients such as those found in flax supplements, so be sure to clearly read the ingredients label.
Fatty Acid Wonders
Flaxseed is an extremely healthy food because they are loaded with essential fatty acids like omega-3. Omega-3 is otherwise known as alpha linolenic acid, or ALA. Flaxseed is also full of dietary fiber, protein, manganese, and lignans.
Omega-3 is an essential fatty acid that has been shown to be an important factor in the good health of a dog and animals in general. Omega-3 essential fatty acids, in particular, contribute to cell function, cell membrane structure, immune function, the health of your dog’s skin and coat, normal reproduction, and even the growth of your dog.
Fatty Acid Ratios
Even more important than mere consumption of essential fatty acids, is the importance of having omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids consumed by your dog in the proper ratios they require, in order to reap the full health benefits.
It is thought that dogs that suffer from autoimmune, allergic, or inflammatory health conditions may benefit from increasing omega-3 fatty acid levels.
Flaxseed Helps Support a Healthy Coat and Hair
One of the first signs you may notice in your dog if his nutrition is suffering is dryness in his skin, and/or a lack of luster in his coat and hair. When a dog is not getting the proper nutrition that its body needs, it manifests itself in the appearance of a dog’s coat.
Hair can appear dull and dry, look wiry, and even develop dandruff and present with skin that is dry and irritated, which can open them up to potential infection. This can happen in dogs that are not eating properly, that are sick from other health conditions, or that are not getting a good balance of essential nutrients from their food source.
Plus, when the lipid barriers of a dog’s skin are reduced, which is what happens when a dog’s natural coat oils get depleted, your dog may run a higher risk of developing skin conditions, especially if they are scratching excessively.
So, supplementing with flaxseed on a regular basis could help with conditions related to the health of your dog’s skin and fur.
Flaxseed Helps Support Healthy Joints
The same anti-inflammatory properties of essential fatty acids (i.e. alpha linoleic acid) that aid your dog fighting off skin irritants, could also help your dog’s joints and range of mobility, especially in dog’s that suffer from conditions like canine arthritis.
This means that a regular consumption of adequate doses of flaxseed could provide your dog with relief when it comes to occasional or minor joint problems, as well as help to improve their ability to get around.
Flaxseed Helps Support a Healthy Immune System
Flaxseed also possesses something called lignans. Lignans are antioxidants that can help your dog’s immune system do its job, and further improves your dog’s ability to mitigate inflammation.
This means that your dog may be better able to deal with the pain of arthritis and other chronic inflammatory disorders that affect his joints and decrease his mobility, and even possibly fight off infections that may be related to inflammation.
Flaxseed Helps Support Healthy Kidneys
The essential fatty acid omega-3 can also help to reduce kidney inflammation in dogs with kidney disease, by helping your dog produce other anti-inflammatory agents in his body. Reducing inflammation of the kidneys can also help to increase vital blood flow to essential organs, and help your dog keep their lipid levels up so that they produce more triglycerides. This is beneficial for dogs suffering from kidney problems because by elevating their triglycerides, it could help extend the dog’s life.
Flaxseed May Improve the Health of Dogs with Adrenal Issues
Flaxseed may possess potential for treating dogs with adrenal problems, due to the high content of lignans that are found in flaxseed, especially in the hulls of the seed.
Adrenal issues in dogs is a problem that secretes excess hormones in a dog’s body. It’s a condition that often results from a tumor, either on the pituitary gland or from a tumor of the adrenal glands. Experiments with lignan therapies have been made in an effort to improve and increase a dog’s quality of life, with encouraging results.
Though you can find lignan in many other plant sources, flaxseed appears be the plant that contains the most amounts of it. Flaxseed hulls possess something called SDG lignan, and they contain it in levels that are 20 times higher than the entire rest of the flaxseed, making it a premium source for these valuable, health-supporting agents.
Flaxseed hulls are also loaded with fiber, which is of great benefit to many dogs since being low on fiber is relatively common in canines. This is because a lot of dog foods that are currently available on the market tend to be low in fiber too.
Because of the high fiber content, it is thought that flaxseeds help to soak up toxins as well as increase the frequency and volume of bowel movements. This makes it easier for a dog to rid itself of harmful waste in a more efficient manner, which may be the reason why it is so helpful in treating dogs with adrenal problems.
Lignans also perform other functions in a dog’s body related to phytoestrogen activity, and lignan takes the place of estradiol in a dog’s tissue estrogen receptors. Lignans also lower estradiol in their system by inhibiting aromatase enzymes, and lowers cortisol by inhibiting 3-beta HSD enzymes.
Therefore, an increase of flaxseed in a dog’s diet may be a beneficial and effective way to manage the symptoms of a dog suffering from adrenal issues.
Flaxseed Helps Support Healthy Digestion
Flaxseed is sometimes recommended for dogs that suffer from digestive disorders. Because flaxseed is adaptable, that means it is able to support a dog suffering constipation and support a dog suffering loose stools. However, it must be given in proper and adequate dosages, and every dog is different.
Generally, stools should appear firm and well-formed if they are healthy. If you notice your dog’s stool becoming softer, or your dog appears to be constipated as a result of giving them flaxseed, you may need to adjust the dosage.
Remember That Flaxseed is a Food
Keep in mind that flaxseed is a food, so there is generally very little risk of negative side effects. This is because you can’t really feed a dog flaxseed in toxic levels. However, if you do happen to feed them a little too much for their bodies to digest properly, it will become evident in your dog’s skin and coat. As far as overfeeding signs to look out for, side effects could be diarrhea and upset stomach. Because flaxseed contains a lot of fiber, it helps your dog’s digestive system clean itself out and function properly. It’s important to make sure your dog is drinking plenty of water, otherwise the added fiber won’t get excreted properly. With flaxseed especially, because of the thickening agent called mucilage, hydration is important.
What Are The Recommended Amounts of Flax?
If you are using ground flaxseed, the dosage is generally based on your dog’s weight. You can add ground flaxseed to your dog’s food in the following dosages, or administer it to your dog in supplemental capsules, then adjust the dose as needed. Be sure to follow the recommended dosage and schedules provided on the ground flaxseed product.
It’s recommended that you divide these dosages in half and administer the first half in the morning and the remainder in the evening.
- In dogs that are teacup size, you can start with 1/8 to 1/4 of a teaspoon per day.
- In small dogs, start with a 1/2 teaspoon to 1 full teaspoon each day.
- In medium-sized dogs you can start with 1 1/2 teaspoons to 2 full teaspoons per day.
- In large dogs, you can start with 2 1/2 teaspoons to 1 full tablespoon per day.
- In giant breeds like Great Danes, start with 1 1/2 to 2 full tablespoons daily.
Keep in mind that if you have a dog that is diabetic or hypoglycemic, it’s important to check with your vet before supplementing with flaxseed.
Also, remember that dogs who are fed whole flax seeds will most likely not see any benefit from them, because they will pass the seeds undigested. This makes it a wasted effort, and a waste of money. Though doing this doesn’t harm your dog, it also doesn’t do them any favors.
Also, because it is sometimes said that dogs have a harder time converting ALA into EPA and DHA, it’s important to make sure you are feeding them a very high-quality flaxseed supplement. When a dog does have a problem converting ALA into EPA or DHA, it is largely a result of feeding your dog poor quality flaxseed.
To avoid this, do your due diligence and find a quality source from a proven provider, and watch your dog flourish as a result.
Shop our high quality fresh-ground flaxseed supplements for dogs today!
*This article is for informational purposes only. Please see a vet if your pet shows any symptoms.