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Flaxseed for Dogs: Benefits and Uses

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Like humans, dogs can benefit greatly from getting more fiber into their diets, which has been found to improve the digestive process and boost their overall health. And by adding natural and organic sources of fiber, there are innumerable benefits besides keeping your pooch “regular.” 

One easy way to get a boost of fiber and nutrients is from flaxseed. Flaxseed for dogs and flaxseed oil for dogs can be holistic methods to supplement your dog’s food if you do it properly. Here’s what you need to know.

What is Flaxseed?

Flaxseed is the seed from the flax plant Linum usitatissimum. Flaxseeds are also referred to as linseeds. Flaxseed is one of the richest plant sources of omega-3 fatty acid, also called a-linolenic acid (ALA). 

Flaxseed for dogs can be found in whole seed form, but dogs are more likely to benefit from ground, organic flaxseed which can be found as a powder or added to dog supplements.

What is Flaxseed Oil? 

“Flaxseed oil is made by cold pressing the ripened seed of the flax plant (Linum usitatissimum) to extract the oil,” says Dr. Tori Countner, a veterinarian based in Los Angeles and founder of The Balanced Pet Vet.

Is Flaxseed Good for Dogs?

Flaxseed and ground flaxseed on table

Flaxseed has several positive uses and benefits for dogs. 

“Flaxseeds can aid in constipation relief, help increase the quality of their coat and skin, and aid in a healthy immune system,” says Dr. Countner.

One of the biggest benefits of flaxseed is its fiber content. “The fiber content is high in ground flaxseed, not flaxseed oil, so it is a great addition to your dog’s food when they are constipated,” says Dr. Counter. 

Studies also show that flaxseed can improve the condition of a dog’s skin when applied to coats after just 14 days [1].

And flaxseeds can help keep your pup’s immune system strong.

“Ligands are also found in whole or ground flaxseed, which can act as an antioxidant in the body which aids the immune system in fighting off disease and illness,” says Dr. Countner.

In human medicine, these ligands, or phytoestrogens, have been shown to reduce certain breast cancers, heart disease, and osteoporosis

“That’s very promising for our canine companions as well!” adds Dr. Counter.

How to Give Dogs Flaxseed

Woman giving dogs supplement treats

It’s important to give your dog the correct kind of flax seeds.

“The safe forms of flaxseed to give your dog are processed ground flaxseed and flaxseed oil,” says Dr. Counter. “Make sure to refrigerate the ground flaxseed to avoid spoiling.”

You can safely sprinkle some over their food or add it to a tasty treat such as yogurt or peanut butter.

“When first adding in flaxseed to your dog’s diet, be sure to watch for any loose stool! You may want to start on the low end of dosing, because the fiber content can cause stomach upset if introduced too quickly,” says Dr. Countner.

You can also look for veterinarian-formulated dog supplements that contain organic flaxseed. This will give your dog a healthy boost of fiber and aid in skin and coat health. 

“Talk to your vet about appropriate dosing for your pet,” says Dr. Countner.

Flaxseed Side Effects for Dogs

Not all flax seeds are safe for dogs.

“Unsafe forms of flaxseed are feeding the whole flax plant, raw/unprocessed flaxseed, or unprocessed flax meal, as this can cause toxicity in dogs,” says Dr. Countner. “Signs of toxicity or poisoning include: diarrhea, vomiting, weakness, abnormal breathing, rapid heart rate, or even seizures.”

And if your dog is on medications like anticoagulants, blood pressure medications, or insulin, you should use extra caution and discuss with your vet before giving flaxseed or flaxseed oil to your dog.

Wholesome Flaxseed for Your Dog’s Wellbeing

Woman giving dog supplement bar

Implementing flaxseed and flaxseed oil into your dog’s diet can reap many benefits but should ultimately be discussed with your vet before being given. 

However, if your dog is a good candidate for flaxseeds, this rich nutrient can easily be given in safe ground forms through flaxseed supplements and chews for dogs.