Is Flaxseed Good For Dogs?
Of all the superfoods, flaxseed is one of the most well-known. We know it has tons of benefits for us, but can dogs have flaxseed too?
Feeding your dog the best diet means feeding the best ingredients. Diets that include flaxseed offer many health benefits to keep your dog healthy and happy. Learn why you should include flaxseed in your dog’s diet and how to feed it safely.
Is Flaxseed Good for Dogs?
Lots of foods that are healthy for us offer the same benefits to dogs too. Flaxseed is not only safe for dogs, but it contains several essential nutrients that your dog needs to stay healthy.
Check out some of the best benefits of flaxseed for dogs:
Skin + Coat Health
One of the most common reasons to give your dog flaxseed is to improve their skin and coat health. Flaxseed contains omega fatty acids and is especially high in the omega 6 fatty acid Linoleic Acid.
Linoleic Acid helps to support skin hydration, improve healing, and reduce inflammation. It’s commonly used to reduce dry, flaky skin issues in dogs and help support healing and maintenance for dogs with seasonal allergies.
Immune System Support
Flaxseed is high in several antioxidants, but one in particular, called lignans, helps defend against cell oxidation and the disease-causing cells, free radicals. The protection that these antioxidants offer leads to healthier cell cycles, supporting your dog’s immune system and long-term health.
We often see flaxseed as a supplement because of all of its health benefits, but don’t forget that flaxseed is food too. Like other healthy carbs, flaxseed is high in fiber, a necessary nutrient for healthy digestion. Flaxseed is made up of about 30% carbs, and 95% of that is fiber.
We’ve been taught to fear carbs, but flaxseed is one of the good guys. It’s 20% soluble fiber and 80% insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber helps regulate the speed of digestion and provides a longer-lasting feeling of fullness, while insoluble fiber adds bulk to the stool for healthier bowel movements.
This can help provide relief for dogs dealing with either loose stool or constipation.
Hip and Joint Aid
Many dogs suffer from mobility issues due to their size, age, or even genetics. Inflammation in the joints from arthritis or connective tissue damage can lead to severe pain. Fortunately, the omega fatty acids in flaxseed help reduce inflammation, relieve pain, and keep your dog active.
Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA), the most abundant omega 3 fatty acid in flaxseed, has some inflammatory properties on its own, but some of your dog’s dietary ALA can be converted to EPA and DHA, two other fatty acids with even greater anti-inflammatory properties. Fish oils are a more abundant source of EPA and DHA.
On top of all of the health benefits we already mentioned, flaxseed is also loaded with various essential vitamins and minerals that your dog uses to support various systems in his body. Here are a few of the nutrients that flaxseed offers:
- Magnesium - supports bone health.
- Choline - Part of healthy liver and brain function.
- Manganese - Aids in nutrient absorption and antioxidant processes.
- Thiamine (vitamin B1) - Supports metabolism and nerve function.
- Phosphorus - Bone and tissue maintenance.
All of these extra nutrients also make Flaxseed a great supplement for puppies and seniors. They help with growth and development but can also help maintain their health as they age.
Best Ways to Feed Flaxseed
Before we get into recommended dosages, you need to figure out how you will be feeding flaxseed. There are several ways to feed flaxseed so let’s look at the options to find the easiest format for you and your dog.
We love a healthy whole grain or seed, but we don’t mean that the seed needs to actually be in its whole state. The fact is, many plant ingredients like seeds and grains are tough to digest in their whole state because their outer layer is made of an indigestible fiber called cellulose.
While the whole seed is very nutritious, feeding flaxseed in this format won’t be super effective because your dog’s body may not absorb all of the nutrients from the seed.
That being said, whole flaxseeds are the most shelf-stable variety. They can be stored in a jar or air-tight container at room temperature for extended periods.
Seed soaking is a common practice for making the nutrients more usable. In addition to being tough to digest in its whole form, flaxseeds, and any raw seeds, contain an antioxidant called phytic acid.
Usually, antioxidants are good, but phytic acid is considered the anti-nutrient. It binds other nutrients like essential minerals and makes them difficult to absorb. Soaking raw seeds overnight and rising them well will remove enough of the phytic acid to make the seeds safe to feed.
The best way to feed whole seed nutrients is to grind the seeds into a coarse or fine powder. After the seeds have been soaked and well-drained, grind the flaxseeds to offer the highest level of digestible and absorbable nutrients for dogs.
The downside with ground flaxseed is that once ground, the seed needs to be refrigerated. Grinding the seed allows oxygen to come into contact with the fats and oils in the seed, so without refrigeration, the fats can go rancid and make your dog sick.
The best and most natural way to preserve nutrition and feed flaxseed safely is to buy whole raw seeds, then soak and grind them in small batches to prolong the shelf life of the flax. This will ensure that your dog is getting the maximum benefit of this nutritious seed.
You can also look for pre-ground flaxseed powder at your local pet store or natural food store, but make sure you follow the storage and best before instructions to keep your dog safe.
Is Flaxseed Oil Good for Dogs?
For anyone looking for a less labor-intensive way to offer the benefits of flaxseed, flaxseed oil will be the solution for you. The oils are extracted from the whole seed to create a potent and healthy supplement for dogs.
Flaxseed oil offers many of the same benefits as whole flaxseeds, but not all. When you remove the oil, you keep the omega fatty acids that help support skin + coat and joint health, but you lose a few of the properties that are provided by the seed itself, like fiber.
The extraction process also leaves behind many minerals and any vitamins that aren’t fat-soluble. Vitamins like vitamin E will be present in the oil format, but others like Vitamin B1 don’t make the cut.
This doesn’t mean that flaxseed oil is bad; it just means that you should choose the flaxseed product that best suits your dog’s needs. If it’s skin and coat support you are after, then flaxseed oil will do the job. If you want all the benefits of flax, then using the whole seed will be more beneficial.
How Much Flaxseed for Dogs is Safe?
Everything in moderation, as they say. We know that flaxseed is good for dogs, but too much of a good thing can be bad. This is why it’s important to know how much flaxseed you should be feeding your dog.
The correct dosage will depend on the format you chose. To make it a little easier, we separated the general dosage recommendations by whole flaxseed and flaxseed oil.
Remember, these are general guidelines. Use these are a starting point and make adjustments as needed. Whenever you introduce a new supplement into your dog’s diet, you should start with half doses and work your way up to full doses to allow your dog’s body to adjust to the new addition.
Flaxseed in Dog Food
One of the absolute easiest ways to incorporate flaxseed into your dog’s diet is by feeding a diet that already contains flax. No extra measurements, preparation, or storage requirements are needed.
Many premium pet foods have started to add this valuable ingredient into their diets, but the best method is to choose a minimally processed diet like Grandma Lucy’s. All of the Artisan and Pureformance diets contain flaxseed.
As a freeze-dried diet, the food has the moisture removed from it but once rehydrated the ingredients regain their taste, texture, and aroma. By using this process the nutrients aren’t degraded by the cooking process that kibble and canned foods endure. This leaves the nutrients from all of the ingredients intact and in their natural state, including the flaxseed.
To learn more about different types of dog food and their benefits check out What Should I Feed My Dog? A Beginners Guide to Dog Food.
Grandma Lucy’s Pumpkin Pouches
Another way to get flaxseed into your dog’s diet is with tasty and nutritious meal toppers like Grandma Lucy’s Pumpkin Pouches. The Skin + Coat Pouch pairs flax with other delicious superfoods like pumpkin, coconut, and sunflower seed to boost your dog’s skin and coat health.
Pumpkin Pouches can be used as a meal topper or side dish with any type of diet. Just add water, stir, and serve. Your dog will thank you, and she’ll look gorgeous to boot.
Would Your Dog Benefit from Flaxseed?
Sometimes it’s hard to tell what our pets need. They can’t tell us, so you need to identify common issues so you can make adjustments to improve their health. Here are a few things you might notice about your dog that tell you that including flaxseed in the diet will be beneficial.
- Dry skin and itchiness
- Dull or brittle fur
- Hot spots
- Stiff joints or mobility issues
- Loose stool or mild constipation
- Excessive shedding or hair loss
If you notice any of these symptoms, then it’s time to consider flaxseed for your dog. As part of a complete and balanced diet, flaxseed can reduce common issues and boost your dog’s health so that they can live a long and healthy life.
Krystn is a passionate pet nutrition enthusiast and content writer for Homesalive.ca. She has worked in the pet industry for over a decade and loves to share her passion for animal welfare with others. She loves all animals but is currently channeling some crazy cat lady vibes with her four lovable, but rebellious cats.