Flaxseed is a nutrient powerhouse and has many potential health benefits that can contribute to the increased vitality and well-being of your four-legged friend, especially when used as a regular supplement to a healthy diet.
The flax plant itself produces tiny, golden seeds which are somewhat nutty in flavour and although they can be eaten raw, this is not recommended as it’s likely they will simply pass straight through your dog’s digestive system.
Flax can be eaten in other ways: it may be eaten 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. It is also worth noting that a lot of dog food is highly processed with heat which significantly depletes its nutritional value.
Flaxseed is very healthy for your pet as it’s loaded with essential fatty acids omega 3 and 6 and is also full of dietary fibre, protein, manganese, and lignans.
Omega-3 is an essential fatty acid that plays an enormous role in the good health of a dog and animals in general. Omega-3 essential fatty acids, in particular, contribute to a healthy immune system, cell function, cell membrane structure, a healthy skin and coat, energy and the growth of your pet.
THE BENEFITS OF OMEGA 3
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.
SUPPORT A HEALTHY SKIN AND COAT
If your dog isn’t getting everything it needs from their diet, one of the first signs to look out for is dryness in their skin and a dull, lack lustre coat. Conversely, if your dog IS getting optimum nutrition, it will manifest itself in the appearance of a dog’s coat and appear vibrant, soft and shiny.
In dogs with a poor diet, their coat can appear dull, wiry, dry and develop dandruff. This normally presents itself with skin that is dry and irritated, which can open them up to potential infection., This can also occur in dog’s that are sick from other health conditions, or that are not getting a good balance of essential nutrients from their food source.
Additionally, when a dog’s natural coat oils get depleted, the lipid barriers of their skin are reduced and your dog may run a higher risk of developing skin conditions, especially if they are scratching excessively.
To summarise, supplementing with flaxseed on a regular basis could help with conditions related to the health of your skin and coat.
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.
SUPPORT A HEALTHY IMMUNE SYSTEM
Flaxseed also contains lignans. Lignans are antioxidants that can help your dog’s immune system, and further improves your dog’s ability to alleviate inflammation. Essentially, this means your dog may be more equipped to deal with the pain of arthritis and other chronic inflammatory disorders that affect their joints and decrease their mobility.
SUPPORT HEALTHY KIDNEYS
Omega-3 can also help reduce kidney inflammation in dogs with kidney disease, by helping your dog produce other anti-inflammatory agents in their 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.
Again, the lignans found in 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 tumour, either on the pituitary gland or from a tumour 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.
Compared to other plant sources that contain lignans, 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.
To summarise, 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.
SUPPORT HEALTHY DIGESTION
Flaxseed is adaptable, and able to support dog’s suffering constipation and support a dog suffering loose stools. However, it must be given in proper and adequate dosages, and every dog is different.
A healthy stool should appear firm and well-formed. If you notice your dog’s stool becoming softer, or your dog appears to be constipated as a result of increasing the flaxseed in their diet, you may need to adjust the dosage.
FLAXSEED IS A FOOD
Flaxseed is a food, so there is very little risk of negative side effects, this is due to the fact 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.
The overfeeding signs to look out for are diarrhoea and upset stomachs because flaxseed contains a lot of fibre, it helps your dog’s digestive system clean itself out and function properly. Make sure your dog is drinking plenty of water, otherwise the added fibre won’t get excreted properly.
WHAT ARE THE RECOMMENDED AMOUNTS OF FLAX?
The dosage of flaxseed is generally based on your dog’s weight. You can add ground flaxseed to your dog’s food in the following dosages, then adjust the dose as needed. Please be sure to follow the recommended dosage as stated on every supplement pack.
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 very small, it is recommended to 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 very large 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 favours.
Finally, 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!